Effect of Covid-19 on pending Accident Cases

Now that it has been over a year since the Covid-19 pandemic began and its seriousness was recognized, the lawyers and legal staff at Glynn, Mercep & Purcell have received numerous inquiries with regard to their pending accident cases, or possible new cases. As a result of these inquiries, we have researched the several issues that have been raised through these trying months.

First, with respect to pending automobile and other accidents, the good news is that these matters are moving forward gradually towards resolution. For example, we at Glynn, Mercep & Purcell achieved settlements or awards in more than a half dozen significant accident cases since the end of November, 2020.  None of these dispositions were for less than $62,500.00!!  This is largely due to the fact that our attorneys rarely are required to make an “in person” court appearance, but can conduct this business electronically from our office at a set time. No more traveling 1-1/2 hours to and from Court and waiting around to see a judge, at least until the pandemic passes. Thus, we have had more time than usual to work on our cases.  During several of these electronic court appearances, the judge assigned to the case has encouraged the parties to settle their accident cases.

Second, with respect to the extension of certain time limits to serve legal papers, we have been able to continue moving our cases forward to avoid the delay caused by these extended time limits.  In spite of these extensions, as a result of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders, we have continued serving and filing all legal papers using the pre-Covid-19 extended limits. This has enabled our staff at Glynn, Mercep & Purcell to continue moving our automobile and other types of accident cases expeditiously toward resolution.

Finally, we have continued to conduct depositions of our clients and the individuals they are suing in accident cases throughout the pandemic using Zoom technology. This technology enables the lawyers to ask questions of litigants and witnesses separately from our own offices. Even our clients or witnesses can stay in their home to testify if they have or can connect to Zoom. This again saves our lawyers from having to travel to court or another lawyer’s office for these depositions. Moreover, we have already conducted arbitration proceeding by Zoom from our office with all of the participants staying at their offices or homes. One of these, a pedestrian knockdown accident case, resulted in a $125,000.00 award.

In short, the lawyers and staff and Glynn, Mercep & Purcell are utilizing technology to move our personal injury cases toward a final resolution as expeditiously as prior to the beginning of the pandemic.

EFFECT OF COVID-19 ON COURT PROCEEDINGS

As most people have heard or read, the Courts have not been operating at full capacity during the pandemic. In fact, in the spring of 2020, there were virtually no “in person” court appearances except for emergency requests, some Criminal and Family Court matters, in particular those involving prisoners or child custody, support and visitation issues. The Courts gradually began to schedule more cases to be heard in person in the summer and early fall of 2020, including some jury trials and all types of accident cases. Telephone and virtual appearances continued at the same time. However, this all changed in the late fall when Covid-19 began to rage once again.

At present, as a result of the spike in Covid-19 cases, the Court administrators have discontinued all jury trials, both civil and criminal. In addition, “in person” court appearances have again been limited to emergency requests, some criminal cases and the Family Court matters mentioned above. This reduction in actual court appearances has created a bit of a backlog in civil jury trials, but has not impeded the attorneys and staff at Glynn, Mercep & Purcell from working diligently on our accident cases, as well as more general civil cases. As a result, our cases are moving forward, steadily toward placement on the Court’s trial calendars and hopefully final dispositions.

As far as non-jury trials, the judges have been scheduling and hearing cases by electronic means using a Microsoft system similar to Zoom. In such cases, no one other than a court clerk or court officer is in the court room. The judge is usually in her or his court chambers, while the lawyers and witnesses can stay at home or in their offices. While most auto accident cases are decided by juries, some are heard by a judge only,without a jury. In automobile and other personal injury cases, Glynn, Mercep & Purcell is in a favorable position to obtain fair awards of monetary compensation as we are using technology to help settle cases. Also, the lawyers who handle these accident cases at Glynn, Mercep & Purcell, particularly Craig Purcell, a former president of the Suffolk County Bar Association, have substantial experience in presenting such cases both to juries and judges.

In fact, in November 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic basically shut down civil jury trials, Mr. Purcell and Joseph Tromba, an associate at the firm, obtained a $150,000.00 jury verdict offer in a hotly contested automobile accident trial. In that case, the insurance company for the driver that the caused the accident offered no money to our injured client. This is the kind of experienced, dogged and successful representation all accident victims have received from Glynn, Mercep & Purcell for decades.

In short, if you are injured in an automobile or other type of accident, at little or no fault of your own, contact Glynn, Mercep & Purcell for a consultation at no charge, even during these difficult times caused by the pandemic.

LAWSUITS FOR COVID-19 DEATHS

Our lawyers at Glynn, Mercep & Purcell continue to receive inquiries concerning the possibility of bringing claims and lawsuits against hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, doctors and other health care providers. Most of these inquiries involve the death of a loved one and the possibility of starting a wrongful death lawsuit. Others relate to individuals who recovered from Covid-19 but have lingering physical problems that don’t seem to be going away.

There is no simple answer as to whether wrongful death actions can be brought for the death of a loved one. There are many proposals being considered by the New York State Legislature which would confer immunity upon doctors, institutions and other health care providers for any acts, with exceptions, in connection with treating Covid-19 patients. The concept of giving immunity for these institutions and providers against wrongful death actions is that they have been suddenly faced with a novel, unexpected virus never before detected. The health care providers treating victims of the virus did the best they could under these horrible circumstances and should not be subject to lawsuits for wrongful death

The New York State Legislature has not yet acted on immunity proposals, which are being debated by lawmakers, bar associations and many other groups and organizations. And several courts have already been confronted with issues related to Covid-19 medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits throughout the State. For now, any family that feels aggrieved by the manner in which their loved one was cared for at a nursing home, hospital or any health care facility can and should start a lawsuit in order to protect against the time limit for starting such action passing. As Glynn, Mercep & Purcell and other law firms that handle personal injury lawsuits that do not charge a legal fee, but take such cases on a contingent fee basis, there is no reason right now to delay bringing an action.  If the legislature or courts ultimately confer immunity as discussed above, the lawsuit can be withdrawn or dismissed by the Court.

We at Glynn, Mercep & Purcell are continuing to monitor developments concerning the issue of Covid-19 related immunity from lawsuits so we will be in a better position to advise people who inquire about Covid-19 personal injury and wrongful death related cases.

Posted from Mr. Purcell.