We can all agree with Schrier Law Group, that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the entire globe on its head. As more and more of the population develops immunity, we can expect a slow return to something resembling “normal”.

That said, the pandemic continues to affect every industry, including the legal industry generally and personal injury practitioners in particular. Many aspects of how we learned to deal with COVID-19 will likely stick around for long after the pandemic is over and may permanently change the way we all do business. For example, virtual consultations with injured clients may become actually become the norm, and clients may routinely sign fee agreements online rather than in the office.

While technology has allowed many lawyers to continue taking cases and fighting for their clients’ rights, it is undeniable that COVID-19 has put a damper on the personal injury industry and that the road to recovery will be long.

 

Here are five specific ways that the pandemic has affected injury attorneys and their practices are discussed in greater detail below.

 

1 – Victims Unsure of Whether they can File a Claim

One of the issues that may be causing a lull in business for personal injury lawyers is that many victims are not sure whether they can file a claim during the pandemic. Many courts are still operating with restricted hours or only adjudicating particularly pressing matters, which victims may take to mean that they cannot proceed with a claim.

Similarly, people who are hurt in accidents may be hesitant to reach out to a lawyer, thinking that they will have to come into the office to discuss their cases, share paperwork, execute a retainer agreement, or conduct other tasks.

Many of the issues are based on misconceptions on how personal injury claims operate. Attorneys and law firms can combat these issues by making efforts to educate potential clients about how claims can proceed during this time. For instance, many victims may not understand that most claims settle and that insurance companies are fully operational even if the courts are not. Similarly, attorneys should make it clear that they are able to take on and represent clients without having to meet in person.

 

2 – Fewer Accidents?

As people hunkered down and stayed home, there was a dramatic decrease in the number of personal injury cases being filed. In fact, according to data analyzed, personal injury filings were down a whopping 46 percent in early April of 2020.

 Now, one can begin to speculate that empty roads and people staying home from work caused fewer wrecks, slip and falls, and other accidents. Collected data supports this. Interestingly, however, data released by the National Safety Council indicates that traffic fatalities actually increased during the lockdowns – an outcome many observers attribute to people speeding on emptier roads.

 

3 – Courts Are Backlogged

Many personal injury cases have life cycles of several months or years, so it’s important for injury lawyers to have cases in the pipeline at all times. Cases that are in litigation may take much longer to resolve than they would have prior to the pandemic, leaving many personal injury lawyers waiting for large cases to conclude. 

 

4 – Victims Failed to Seek Care

Another issue is that many accident victims failed to seek medical care for injuries that required medical attention. Often, injured victims who would have otherwise sought care did not do so for fear of exposure to the virus.

Of course, a lack of medical documentation regarding an injury can be devastating to the outcome of a personal injury claim, as victims do not have records describing the nature and severity of their injuries or causally connecting them to the accidents in which they were sustained.

In addition, as all personal injury practitioners are well-aware, failing to seek medical care can allow insurers and at-fault parties to argue that victims failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate their damages. Combined, these issues can result in significantly lower settlements and awards than victims would have obtained had they sought timely medical attention.

 

5 – Personal Injury Practitioners Get Ready

The United States is getting close to turning the corner and achieving some semblance of normalcy in the upcoming months. For this reason, many people are considering how they can position themselves to hit the ground running and build businesses back up to pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible once restrictions are lifted.

It’s reasonable to suspect that personal injury lawyers are going to see an influx of injured clients who have put off filing claims until after the pandemic ends. Unfortunately for personal injury lawyers in certain states, this may mean that you are working with much less time to file than usual.

In fact, in states like Tennessee and Louisiana that have a one-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, you may actually meet with clients whose claims are already time-barred. That said, courts or legislatures may toll statutes of limitation due to the Coronavirus pandemic, allowing otherwise time-barred claims to move forward.

The Schrier Law Group handles many personal injury cases, and Schrier Law has the resources necessary to help you and your family score a successful outcome in any personal injury case before or during COVID-19. It is important that you have your rights defended by someone who knows the law. Contact the Schrier Law Group for a personal injury attorney in Florida today!

In these days and times, COVID-19 lawsuits are becoming quite the norm. Schrier Law Group is here to represent you should one need representation regarding the virus. In recent news, three Utahns and two Arizonians are suing Disney Cruise Line after they claimed that they contracted the coronavirus while onboard the Disney Fantasy ship in March 2020.

Four lawsuits have been filed in a federal court in Orlando, Florida, nearly a year after all five tourists were aboard the cruise ship. All of them saying they contracted the virus and began feeling sick.

 

Disney’s Reaction

In a statement shared with the media, Disney Cruise Line spokesperson Cynthia Martinez says, “We disagree with the allegations and will respond to them in court. No guests or Crew reported symptoms of Covid-19 while aboard the Disney Fantasy during the March 7, 2020, sailing. Disney Cruise Line communicated health and safety information with guests in advance of and during their sailing and had numerous protocols in place at the time.”

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Utah resident Kailee Taylor says that she was traveling with family members that suffered from autoimmune diseases and compromised health conditions placing them at greater risk of contracting and suffering from the effects of COVID-19.

Because of this, the lawsuit says Taylor contacted Disney Cruise Line to cancel or postpone her cruise, but was told she could not, despite the COVID-19 concerns. Left without any option and having trusted Disney Cruise Line would not place her in harm’s way, she embarked on the cruise line’s vessel on March 7, 2020, according to her lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Taylor contracted COVID-19 while aboard the ship and began suffering symptoms of the virus as a result of Disney’s careless conduct.

 

Another Lawsuit Filed

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Scott and Jana Olson of Utah, says their child, who had an unspecified autoimmune disease, had to be taken to a hospital intensive care unit in mid-March with a high fever and difficulty breathing. On May 1st, the lawsuit says the child tested positive for COVID-19, as did the parents.

The lawsuits allege Disney Cruise Line knew of the virus and its contagiousness, as well as its effects, before the March cruise, but “negligently exposed” the victims to COVID-19. The cruise line is also accused of not enacting quarantine or physical distancing measures aboard the ship.

Disney says its buffet line was closed on March 12, 2020.

The plaintiffs allege Disney Cruise Line was or should have been aware of a memorandum from the CDC that outlined guidance for ships at the onset of the pandemic. The lawsuit continues, saying Disney, like other cruise ships, received “an early, dire warning” of how easily the virus can spread on ocean liners after the first cases emerged aboard another vessel in Yokohama Harbor, Japan.

The lawsuits accuse Disney Cruise Line of negligent failure to warn of the dangers of COVID-19 aboard the ship and general negligence.

Disney Cruise Line shared an email sent to all guests on March 7, 2020, sailing received ahead of their cruise, that reads in part:

“Information continues to evolve quickly and we are closely following guidance from health officials and authorities in the ports of call we visit. As always, your health and safety, as well as that of our crew, is our primary focus. We are also committed to keeping you informed and updated, and are happy to address any questions you have in advance of your cruise and once you’re onboard.”

The email goes on to outline guidelines for those onboard, including temperature checks, screening for symptoms, extensive cleaning, and, if applicable, prohibiting guests to disembark in any Bahamian port if they had been to China, South Korea, Italy, or Iran in the 20 days before arrival. All four of those countries were the hardest-hit by the virus at the time.

A future court date has not yet been set.

The Schrier Law Group is ready to handle any coronavirus / COVID-19 case and Schrier Law has the resources necessary to help you and your family score a successful outcome. It is important that you have your rights defended by someone who knows the law. Contact the Schrier Law Group for a personal injury attorney in Florida today!

There are many, and Schrier Law Group would like to reiterate, many COVID-19 lawsuits being filed all around the country. One company in the crosshairs was Tyson Foods. Iowa State and federal legislation has shielded Tyson Foods from a negligence claim filed by a family who says their father contracted COVID-19 at the meatpacker’s Storm Lake, Iowa, pork plant and later died, the company says in new court filings.

Tyson is seeking a dismissal, saying the lawsuit is barred by Iowa’s new COVID-19 Response and Back-to-Business Limited Liability Act and former President Donald Trump’s designation of meatpacking plants as critical infrastructure with a responsibility to continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tyson also contends that the family of Michael Everhard has not proven that he contracted the virus while at work and that the claims should be adjudicated by Iowa’s worker compensation system.

What are the Details?

A 27-year Tyson employee, Everhard, 65, of Fonda, Iowa, died on June 18th, three weeks after being hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID-19. His family sued Tyson for gross negligence in December, saying that Everhard was forced to work in a confined work environment without proper safety measures while Tyson knew it was not implementing the necessary precautions available to protect workers from the virus.

In its motion to dismiss the suit, Tyson says the issue must be adjudicated through the Iowa Division of Worker’s Compensation and that Everhard’s family is circumventing the process.

The Everhard’s family attorney has said that Tyson can only claim immunity from liability for injuries or death of its employees if worker’s compensation or occupational disease compensation benefits were recoverable by a worker’s family or estate. Tyson has denied that Everhard’s family has a claim for worker’s compensation, he said, so it loses that immunity.

The COVID-19 Response and Back-to-Business Limited Liability Act shields businesses from virus-related lawsuits unless plaintiffs can show a company acted with actual malice and intentionally and recklessly disregarded its workers’ safety.

 

Tyson’s Court Filings

Tyson said in previous court filings that since the beginning of the pandemic it has followed federal workplace guidelines and has invested millions of dollars to provide workers with safety and risk-mitigation equipment. Tyson, which employs more than 2,300 workers at its Storm Lake turkey and pork processing plants, conducted mass testing of its Storm Lake workers in May, and in June announced that 591 workers at the pork plant there had tested positive for COVID-19.

Tyson said in its dismissal motion that Trump’s declaration of meatpackers as critical infrastructure gave him the discretion to determine the manner, conditions and extent of their operations during a national emergency. That shields the company and others deemed as critical from lawsuits such as Everhard’s, Tyson said, because imposing liability on the company would undermine the emergency declaration.

At least one judge in Iowa has ruled otherwise.

The Schrier Law Group handles many cases. COVID-19 cases are new to the legal world, but Schrier Law has the resources necessary to help you and your family score a successful outcome in any case (including COVID-19 cases). It is important that you have your rights defended by someone who knows the law. Contact the Schrier Law Group for a personal injury attorney in Florida today!

Schrier Law Group, as well as all of America, is paying attention to the lawsuits that are popping up due to COVID-19. One of the lawsuits getting the most reporting is about an employee at a Publix supermarket in Miami-Dade county Florida, that was allegedly prohibited from wearing a mask at work. Now his family is suing Publix over his death.

The coronavirus had already made its way to the US by the time Gerardo Gutierrez, 70, asked his employer if he’d be permitted to wear a face mask while he worked. Despite the fact that his deli counter co-worker was showing signs of the illness as they worked together on March 27th and 28th, Publix told him that masks were not allowed because they may “scare” customers, the family’s lawyer has claimed.

About a month later, Gutierrez died alone in a hospital from complications related to COVID-19. His family was forced to say their goodbyes over a video call.

 

“A Devastating Loss”

The co-worker has recovered, and Publix later reversed course on their maskless rule on April 20th, according to Publix’s website. However, a Tampa Bay Times report on April 30th showed the supermarket chain had yet to consistently adopt a mask policy, lagging behind their competitors at the time.

So the family filed a suit alleging the Florida-based company had acted with negligence. Lawyers for the Gutierrez family say Publix should be held accountable. They’re asking for more than $30,000 in damages. The lawsuit also cites multiple complaints submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the grocer prohibiting masks and gloves earlier this year.

Gutierrez’s daughter Ariane, 43, called the passing a “devastating loss”.

Publix could not be reached for comment by multiple news outlets.

 

What are the Details?

Gutierrez arrived at work on March 27th and 28th to find his co-worker exhibiting symptoms of the COVID-19 illness. The company lifted their ban on some types of face coverings by April 30th, after refusing to allow Gutierrez the same, because deli workers were reportedly still prohibited from wearing them, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

On April 2nd, Gutierrez was sent home to isolate following the co-worker’s positive test results confirming they’d been infected with the coronavirus.

By April 6th, Gutierrez had a cough and fever. At the same time, Publix finally announced that all employees could wear surgical or reusable cloth masks.

It was too late for Gutierrez, who wound up passing away on April 28th.

The news isn’t good for other “essential businesses”. Walmart as well as Tyson Foods face lawsuits by employees over coronavirus deaths. Anticipating more, federal and Florida lawmakers have debated legislation to prevent workers from suing their employers if they contract COVID-19 on the job.

Something is going to happen one way or another because as long as Covid-19 sticks around, these lawsuits are going to follow.

The Schrier Law Group handles many wrongful death cases. Schrier Law has the resources necessary to help you and your family score a successful outcome in your case. It is important that you have your rights defended by someone who knows the law. Contact the Schrier Law Group for a personal injury attorney in Florida today!

One thing for sure that is coming out of the pandemic is the growing number of lawsuits that are tied into wrongful death and/or negligence from COVID-19.

In Montana, The families of three residents who were infected with and died of COVID-19 at a local care/rehab center are suing the facility for negligence and wrongful death. They are alleging its corporate owners failed to establish basic infection prevention criteria during the outbreak of the deadly virus while ignoring sanctions from state and federal regulators.

 

What are the Details

As a result of the negligence, the lawsuit alleges a total of 13 residents died at the long-term care facility, including the three men on whose family members are seeking damages.

All three men died within weeks of one another, and the lawsuit outlines alleged instances of neglect, abuse, malnourishment, and other forms of mistreatment that led to their contraction of the virus, deteriorating health and ultimate death.

To be specific, the families allege that Whitefish Care and Rehabilitation Center, failed to establish and maintain a basic COVID-19 infection prevention and control program for an at-risk population of residents, even after a series of complaints.

These complaints led to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to investigate the facility, leading to warnings, violations, and a corrective enforcement plan. A plan that was disregarded.

 

The families also allege the facility “failed to provide adequate and basic personal care to residents during the pandemic, failed to inform resident representatives of the deteriorating conditions inside the facility, and have concealed their neglect behind COVID-19 restrictions,” according to the lawsuit.

 

Across the nation, nursing home residents have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19, with outbreaks spreading rapidly through the congregant settings and disproportionately impacting vulnerable seniors.

One example mentioned in the lawsuit describes a period during the outbreak in which 58 residents were living at the facility while new intakes were mixed into the general population, in violation of rules requiring a 14-day isolation period for all new residents.

On Aug. 31, more than two weeks after the first positive case of COVID-19 inside the facility, and after four residents had died, regulators conducted a second survey and documented numerous instances of non-compliance with infection control guidelines, despite the earlier warnings and violations.

The lawsuit also names as a defendant, the executive director of Whitefish Care and Rehab, and accuses him of ignoring complaints, guidelines and agency recommendations, and requirements, while allowing the unsafe conditions “to persist until nearly the entire population of residents at the facility had become infected with COVID-19.”