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Can Covid-19 impact a personal injury claim?

The pandemic presents a number of interesting legal issues.

China has been sued in a class action lawsuit out of Nevada alleging the Chinese government caused the outbreak of COVID-19 and for failing to act appropriately to contain it. The “Class Action Complaint” can be found at this link: Class Action Complaint https://images.law.com/contrib/content/uploads/documents/392/85094/Coronavirus-China-class-action.pdf.

Another class action alleges that Purell hand sanitizer was falsely marketed as being able to prevent disease and reduce illness. That “Class Action Complaint” can be found at this link: Class Action Complaint http://casefilingsalert.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Purell-Hand-Sanitizers.pdf.

There is also an abundance of COVID-19 related legal issues much closer to home. I will be writing a short series about how COVID-19 might impact on a personal injury claim.

One potential impact has to do with the temporary shutdown in hands on care. Physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists and other hands on practitioners have shut their offices.

A delay or interruption of care can have long term impacts on recovery. I’ve just finished a column series about how ICBC can challenge your claim if you fail to diligently pursue and follow through with care.

How is your personal injury claim impacted if something totally unrelated to the crash, i.e. a pandemic, causes a worse outcome?  Will you be compensated for that?  Will a COVID-19 care delay or interruption allow ICBC to slither out of fairly compensating you?

And COVID-19 has slammed the brakes on our economy. Many business operations are drastically reduced or shut down entirely. Scads of employees are out of work.

How is your claim for income loss impacted by an intervening event like a pandemic?  If you were disabled from work before the pandemic hit, does your claim for income loss continue even though you would have been laid off anyway?  And does ICBC get credit for emergency financial relief?  What if COVID-19 causes a lay-off, but it’s your crash injuries that disable you from finding alternate work?

And COVID-19 will take some lives.

What if an injured victim, pursuing compensation for their injuries and losses, dies because of a COVID-19 related death?  Will their rights arising from the claim be passed on to the beneficiaries of the their estate?  Is it any different if they would have survived COVID-19 had their health not been compromised by crash injuries?

Do any of you have any other questions or concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic might impact on your ICBC claim?  Please e-mail me and I will either respond directly or address them in a column in this series.

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2 Comments

  • I’m in the middle of a claim, and no longer able to receive physio treatments because of COVID 19 closures. Increased daily pain. Could this increase my possible tort settlement?

    • Jolene,

      Injured victims are entitled to fair, financial compensation for all of their losses arising from their injuries. One type of loss is “pain and suffering” which encompasses your experience of symptoms (pain, stiffness, etc.) and how those symptoms impact on your activities / enjoyment and experience of life. The more significant your symptoms and the more significant the impact of those symptoms on your life, the greater your “pain and suffering” losses, and therefore the greater your entitlement for compensation for those losses.

      But when the value of “pain and suffering” losses is assessed, long term / permanent symptoms and impacts tend to be much, much more significant than temporary ones such as a temporary worsening because of lack of access to care, such that I would not expect that the increased symptoms you are experiencing will have anything of an impact on a fair valuation of your claim. But this is my off the cuff musings without having anything more to go on than your very brief e-mail. Please ensure you get legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer about the value of your claim.

      And please ensure that you very diligently inquire about what care you might be able to access by video conference with your physiotherapist and / or a kinesiologist or other care giver, and what you might do on your own on advice from your doctor to assist your recovery until COVID restrictions are lifted.

      Paul

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