How Will the Coronavirus Affect My Personal Injury Case?
Across the country, attempts to slow the spread of the deadly Coronavirus have thrown the criminal justice system into disarray as officials try to limit large courthouse gatherings, including juries, while also making sure that people accused of crimes are not deprived of their due process rights. State courts across California are implementing a variety of measures to curtail public activity in many instances, and in others to shut down completely. The California Supreme Court suspended in-person oral arguments until “deemed prudent to resume normal measures.”
While many types of cases can be postponed, many other aspects of the criminal justice system cannot be delayed. These include bail hearings, juvenile detention hearings, cases that involve children being removed from abusive homes and temporary restraining order requests in domestic violence cases.
At Duque Law, we understand that your case is still important and our team has taken a proactive approach to providing continued legal services to our current and prospective clients. Our office has been preparing for weeks for the current situation in our city and state, and we are confident in our ability to continue to serve you to the best of our ability.
What is the Status of the Coronavirus Situation in California?
As of Friday, March 27, 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 which is now being classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization is having a major impact across the world, including cities across the San Francisco Bay Area and California. So far, there are more than 500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths in the Bay Area.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered the state’s 40 million residents to stay at home, restricting non-essential movements to control the spread of the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm the state’s medical system.
His move came after counties and communities covering about half the state’s population already had issued similar orders. He said the restriction is “open-ended,” and it could raise false hopes if he predicted how long the order might last.
Your Case is Important
If you have been injured in an accident, you have many concerns. First, if you are unable to work and pay your medical bills, you may be depending on the resolution of your personal injury claim to feed your family and pay your living expenses.
As you may already know, the spread of COVID-19 has led to court closures across the country and specifically in California.
What does this mean for your case? The result of these court closures is that cases cannot proceed to trial, and your case cannot move as quickly towards resolution as it normally would under the laws of the state.
What Should I Do if I Have an Ongoing Personal Injury Case?
One vital part of the legal process that can still take place is arbitrations and mediations. These proceedings take place out of court, usually with the guidance of a retired judge or attorney where the sides meet in an attempt to resolve your case.
Arbitrations and mediations can take place in small, private offices that have not been shut down due to the Coronavirus, or they can even be conducted remotely by video conferencing technology.
Another critical factor is ensuring that the discovery process continues. Our office is relatively paperless and we have remote access can continue to submit materials, exchange discovery materials, and even make motions to the court seeking relief.
Depositions are also a significant step in a personal injury case and can be conducted remotely via Skype, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, Google Hangout, or other video conferencing methods while adhering to state and Federal social distancing recommendations.
What Should I Do if My Current Law Firm Cannot Represent Me Remotely?
Not all firms are prepared to handle a pandemic of this proportion, and your case should not suffer because your lawyers are not equipped to handle your case during this trying time. Carefully consider the law firm that is currently representing you. If they are a smaller firm or an older firm that does not have the financial and technological resources to withstand the Coronavirus and continue to be aggressive, you should consult with another law firm.
Now is the time to make sure you have the right law firm representing you. If you are not confident in the attorney you have hired, now is a great time to make sure that you have the right people behind you.
Duque Law is Prepared to Handle Your Case
The team at Duque Law knows how confusing and overwhelming this unprecedented pandemic situation can be for you and your family, especially if you have an active personal injury claim in progress. Rest assured that our firm is prepared to provide the same top-notch legal services as always, and we are actively encouraging those with other representation to consider switching to us.
We are following best practices to protect both our employees and our clients as COVID-19 continues to disrupt daily activities in our city, state, and across the country. Fortunately, we’ve already prepared for such disruptions, and our focus on paperless legal work, remote computer access, remote meetings and consultations, and other high-tech methods have positioned us to provide uninterrupted legal services.
If you or a loved one is involved in a potential personal injury lawsuit, please contact our Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.
Here’s a look at how Southern California courts are dealing with the threat of the novel Coronavirus:
Los Angeles County Superior Court
Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile on March 23 issued a new order restricting courthouse access to only those people with business before the court on a particular day. Almost 400 courtrooms remain closed and trials remain suspended. The courthouse in Sylmar was closed or three days starting March 23 after a deputy public defender tested positive for COVID-19. Judges, attorneys and courtroom staff have been told to quarantine. A juvenile dependency judge with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 was in quarantine on March 23, as were court staff in contact with him. Clerk’s offices in all courthouses are closed.
Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile announced an expedited process on March 24 that will allow certain pre-trial defendants to be released from jail. The list of those released was agreed to be sheriff’s officials, prosecutors and public defenders.
Ventura County Superior Court
The court will limit operations through April 17. All civil trials were suspended for 90 days. “A small number of courtrooms will be operating to hear urgent criminal, juvenile, temporary restraining order issues and emergency ex parte Family Law, Civil and Probate matters only,” the court said online. The chief justice issued a second emergency order for the court on March 20.
Orange County Superior Court
The court is closed to the public, with minimal exceptions, until April 24. The court has set up an email portal to answer questions about closures. The chief justice issued a second emergency order for the court on March 26. Presiding Judge Kirk Nakamura issued an amended administrative order on March 24. The court is live streaming some proceedings.
Riverside County Superior Court
The court announced courtroom closures around the county. Only limited emergency matters will be handled through April 3. The chief justice issued a third emergency order for the court on March 23.
San Bernardino County Superior Court
The court is closed for all non-emergency measures through April 2. The court’s implementation order is here. The chief justice issued an emergency order for the court on March 17.
San Diego County Superior Court
The court has suspended all non-emergency services between through April 3, according to a press release. On March 24, the court expanded the number of urgent matters judges will handle during the service suspension. The court received a second emergency order from the chief justice on March 18. All jury service through May 22 is dismissed.