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How Will Covid-19 Effect My Suffolk County Accident Case?

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a pause on almost everyone’s life in some way. For a time, this included law firms and courts across the country. Especially with personal injury being an area of law that highly values a person’s safety, it was imperative that accident law firms do their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Additionally, we understand the urgency to move forward on our personal injury claims to give clients the compensation they deserve as soon as possible. Unfortunately, with the courts being closed down, cases that require trial had to be pushed back.

Suffolk County Court Changes

With the courts and law firms being closed for some time, some adjustments had to be made to move forward. There are several factors that are at play here, some positive and some negative. Overall, cases are being moved through the system at a decent pace. That is because the Court has implemented several new practices.

  1. Video conferences – When a suit is filed in Supreme Court it will eventually be assigned to a judge that will monitor the progress. The Judges are currently holding video conferences. These are more time efficient and easier to attend. So the judge and attorneys are less likely to have to adjourn due to conflicts. This is good as a plaintiff’s attorney because we want the case to progress. At conferences judges schedule deadlines for discovery, depositions, and physical exams.
  2. New Mediation Part – The Suffolk County Supreme Court started a new program that requires less complex cases to have an early settlement conference. This is good if you have a motor vehicle case or slip and fall case with injuries that aren’t too substantial. A judge will mediate and try to bring the case to an early resolution.
  3. Video depositions – This too is more convenient and therefore easier to get completed. This is because there are yet again, less adjournments. This allows the discovery process to move quickly. A faster recovery means a faster settlement.

On the negative side, trials are still not back to normal. They only recently started to hear the first few trials. The trials that have begun have had mixed success with one of them having to be suspended due to a positive Covid test. As you could imagine, nine months or so of no trials has led to a serious backlog of cases.
Ultimately what we’re seeing is if a case is able to be settled, the effect of Covid is minor or may even play in your favor. On the other hand, if a trial is required, you may be delayed substantially. So far carriers have shown an interest in settling cases at a normal pace and have not used the court’s trial backup to delay. They don’t want to have a backlog of claims either. But in those cases where there is a dispute and a trial is needed, there will be a delay.

About the Author

Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.

His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.