Do I still have a case even with all the consequences of the Coronavirus/Covid 19 crisis?
Yes. Coronavirus/Covid 19 has no effect on the underlying merits of your case. If someone else negligently caused you to suffer a personal injury, nothing about the virus outbreak changes the laws pertaining to the liability and financial responsibility of the at-fault party or parties for the various damages you have suffered, such as lost wages/lost earnings, pain and suffering and related medical costs. Steps taken by the state government to protect citizens from exposure and spread of the virus have resulted in a number of potential delays to some cases (for example, the New York State court system is temporarily closed, so trials are not currently going forward); but these delays will not have any impact on the strength of your case. Our law firm will continue to move those cases where a settlement is appropriate toward such a resolution while the courts remain temporarily closed. When the courts do re-open, the strength of every case that proceeds through the pre-trial litigation process and through the trial process will be unaffected by the delay.
Are you still working on my case? / Is your firm open for business?
Yes. Friedman & Simon LLP Injury Lawyers continues to work on every single client case.
Yes. Friedman & Simon LLP Injury Lawyers is open for business.
Founded in 1991, our firm has operated in the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and various other weather or utility crises. These events reinforced our determination to fortify ourselves so that we could stay on-mission even if we could not physically report to work at our office. Currently, as per the “New York State On Pause” Executive Order of Governor Cuomo, effective at 8PM on Sunday, March 22, 2020, our “physical” office is closed. However, our phone system and case management software are working with remote access features. When you call our office, your call will be directed to the appropriate team member as if they were sitting at their desk in our office. When the team member needs to access information about your case, or draft correspondence or a legal instrument, they are fully able to do so.
The lawyers of Friedman & Simon, LLP and the rest of our dedicated, professional legal team hold daily online video conferences to review specific case issues, to address specific concerns that arise as a result of working remotely, and to constantly solidify our various remote operation procedures.
What specific Coronavirus/Covid19 delays and accommodations may apply to my lawsuit?
The delays are that case filings are not being accepted by the court system and that jury selections and trials are suspended. The accommodation is that statutes of limitations and litigation deadlines have been extended and that notary services are authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology.
Trials are suspended:
On March 13, 2020, New York State Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks issued a letter directing that as of March 16, 2020, the New York State court system would suspend new civil jury trials and halt jury selection. As a result, cases that were, prior to Judge Marks’ order, close to a trial date, will now be adjourned. For such cases, this will create a delay. At this time, it is our hope that these delays will generally be in the 8-12 week range. Unfortunately, because developments are fluid, we cannot say how long the delays will be with certainty. What we can say with certainty is that our firm will diligently monitor court announcements and make certain that all cases in this category are trial-ready, so that when the suspension order is lifted, we can move these cases forward toward a settlement or verdict as expeditiously as possible and with the high-level of excellence in legal advocacy that you deserve.
Statutes of Limitations & Case Time Limitations are extended, notarization is permitted using audio-video technology:
On March 7, 2020, New York State Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order Number 202, declaring a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York; which acted to, ” temporarily suspend or modify, for the period from the date of this Executive Order through April 19, 2020…” various usual state functions. More specifically, as applies to personal injury cases and lawsuits the Executive Order makes the following changes:
“Any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding, as prescribed by the procedural laws of the state, including but not limited to … the civil practice law and rules, the court of claims act, … and the uniform court acts, or by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or part thereof, is hereby tolled from the date of this executive order until April 19, 2020.”
The Governor has also ordered that notary services are authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology. While there are a number of conditions, it is a very simple and easy process and our firm has already executed notarization of client signatures using these means during the Coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis.
At this time, court filings are not being accepted until further notice. On March 22, 2020, New York State Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks issued an order directing that for most cases, the filing of case documents, by both physical and electronic means, would not be accepted. This step, together with suspension of jury selection and trials,, as a practical matter, “freezes” the activity of the court system in New York State until further notice.
Plainly stated, this means that substantive court activity in personal injury lawsuits has been suspended and that all time limits pertaining to personal injury cases or lawsuits have been “tolled” or extended. Whether it is starting (“commencing”) a case, or filing any litigation instrument or document in connection with a lawsuit, any pre-order deadline that may have applied is pushed back to April 19, 2020. (Of course, depending upon how Coronavirus/Covid 19 conditions develop, this April 19, 2020 date may be further extended. Friedman & Simon, LLP Injury Lawyers is monitoring developments throughout the day, every day, so that we may take the appropriate steps at the appropriate time to keep everyone safe, comply with any further changes in the law and advance our clients’ cases in the best ways possible.
Can my case continue to move forward with the courts closed?
Yes. Much of the work we do to optimally prepare cases for settlement negotiations and trials will continue without interruption. We are still communicating with medical providers, obtaining records and reports and thoroughly reviewing these records. We are still communicating with insurance carriers about bodily injury claims, no-fault claims and property damage claims.
What will happen to interest on my case funding advance?
How Coronavirus/Covid-19 case delays will affect interest on case funding advances is uncertain at this time but we are cautiously optimistic that we can minimize the potentially negative effects. First, each funding agreement must be reviewed to determine if such an event was in any way specifically addressed by the terms of the contract. We believe most such agreements are probably silent on the issue. Generally, this would mean the “interest-clock” keeps running during a delay. More specifically, some contracts have a “ceiling” which limits the highest amount the interest can run up, and this too must be reviewed for each individual case. As a practical matter, we anticipate that many funders will be amenable to negotiating reductions if Coronavirus/Covid-19 case delays add a significant interest charge. Since case funding companies are only paid when a case concludes successfully, these companies, while they do want to earn a profit, are also very motivated to recapture their funds and do not want to be the impediment to resolving a case.
My treatment facility is closed/I am afraid to leave home for treatment. What do I do? Will this hurt my case?
We believe that treatment lapses will be understood in a more forgiving way in the Coronavirus Covid-19 context. Generally, we anticipate that in this unprecedented circumstance, liability carriers and juries will be sympathetic to treatment delays and lapses, to a much greater degree than ever before. Everyone understands that most people are staying home and we believe that our clients’ concerns about going out for treatment will be received sympathetically.
While we understand and we believe that treatment delays and lapses will be widely understood, there are numerous treatment providers that remain open. These providers have advised us that they are adhering to social distancing, hand-washing and sanitizing protocols to the greatest degree possible Additionally, some treatment providers, such as physical therapists, are offering at-home visits and treatment, again, adhering to all recommended safety-practices. If you wish to continue treating at a facility or by having treatment-at-home, and you are encountering any difficulty, please speak with us.
What are specific examples of how you are continuing to work on cases?
We are taking full advantage of technology to keep operations as close to pre-Coronavirus/Covid-19 conditions as possible.
By way of example, since our physical office has closed pursuant to the Governor’s oder, our office has:
- Participated in EUO and EBT (Insurance carrier mandated, “Examination Under Oath” or court ordered “Examination Before Trial”) by video conference.
- E-mailed clients documents that they could sign and have notarized by one of our paralegals electronically.
- Conducted phone calls, emails and regular mail with clients, insurance carriers and defense counsel.
- Received and filed time-sensitive No-Fault documents electronically.
- Accepted new cases for prosecution via electronic signature.
- Arranged and taken part in video conferencing for the mediation and potential settlement of cases.
- Negotiated and won case settlements by telephone.
How do you anticipate going forward through the Coronavirus/Covid19 crisis, given that conditions are constantly changing?
We understand that we must remain strong to soldier through changing circumstances while remaining flexible as to specific response procedures. Below is a message we have shared with our clients that states our position:
Since 1991 Friedman & Simon LLP Injury Lawyers has helped thousands of people get through the unexpected hardships that being injured in an accident brought into their lives.
Now, with the spread of Covid-19, our entire nation and much of the world is dealing with unexpected hardships at the very same time.
We are committed to getting through this crisis with the same approach we have used to counsel our injured clients over the years.
We are going to take things one step at a time, trying to make the best decisions we can based upon the best information available.
Consistent with guidelines at CDC.gov, it is the goal of our law firm to, “… be able to respond in a flexible way to varying levels of severity and be prepared to refine… business response plans as needed.”
At this time, please rest assured, we have taken steps consistent with government and health authority recommendations, to keep our team safe as we continue to answer our clients’ calls and push their cases forward.
We hope that you and all those you care about will get through this challenging time safely and in good health.
Edward D. Friedman & Roger L. Simon
Friedman & Simon LLP Injury Lawyers