Whilst the courts had been functioning almost as normal up until last week, they are now vacating (cancelling) hearings that can only take place in person and then ordering that all other hearings that do not require personal attendance to take place by video-call or telephone.
The difficulty has been that, due to the rapidly changing situation, the courts are generally only able to deal with the hearings listed for the next day or two, so we are expecting to only be updated by the court just before the hearing date.
This means that, if you have a hearing to attend soon, we will only be able to update you a day or two in advance as to the arrangements. We have notified all of our clients of this and they have all been very understanding despite the inconvenience that is caused by effectively being on stand-by.
If you have an ongoing court case where the hearing date is much further away, we anticipate that the courts will soon be making orders to stay or extend the court timetable and we will be updating our clients on this regularly.
The vast majority of personal injury claims are dealt with by the defendant’s insurance company. Most of the insurers are now inundated with claims arising out of the COVID19 pandemic and, as such, we are finding that their capacity for dealing with injury claims is significantly reduced. As such, we expect them to be slower at responding to and processing claims, which, in turn, will impact upon our ability to progress claims on behalf of our clients.
Nevertheless, most insurers and their solicitors have confirmed that they wish for all communications to be sent electronically and, as this was largely the case already, the ability to communicate should not really be impacted too much, if at all. The bigger issue will be whether the insurers will have the staff numbers available to get through their workloads efficiently.
However, rest assured that we will take the appropriate action as and when necessary on behalf of our clients if an insurer is unreasonably delaying or if they fail to comply with specific deadlines or requirements in the case.
The medical experts
When acting on behalf of a claimant, we have to instruct at least one medical expert witness in all claims as independent expert evidence has to be obtained and relied upon by the claimant in order for them to pursue their claim.
Understandably, many of the expert witnesses we use are not currently able to take on new instructions as they are courageously dedicating their services to their NHS work. In addition, most experts are not able to offer face-to-face appointments at the current time.
However, where appointments have already been arranged, we are hopeful that we will be able to make arrangements for our clients to attend the appointment by video-link. It is hoped that, in most cases, the medical expert will be able to report based on what they have been able to discuss and see via that video-call.
Due to the recent impact of the COVID-19 restrictions, many of our clients have already familiarised themselves with video-calling which has made this process even easier.
Nevertheless, it does seem inevitable that some appointments will be cancelled until a later date.
How we can help
Our personal injury team are all set up and ready to continue pursuing and progressing our clients’ claims with as little disruption as possible.
We will continue to fight for our clients to get them the help and compensation that they deserve and need. Our lawyers are able to work remotely or in the office and our support team is in place to ensure that our service to clients is impacted as little as possible.
Nevertheless, the overall strain that this situation will cause to the courts, the insurers and to medical experts will undoubtedly have some impact on the progression of most claims and so, at this very difficult time, we are grateful to our clients who have shown considerable understanding and patience.
We hope that you are all able to stay safe and healthy and we look forward to blogging about much more uplifting subjects in the future!