How Covid-19 Has Affected the Personal Injury Legal Landscape in Ireland

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It is no secret that COVID-19 has changed the world forever. It has affected just about every industry, but it has impacted no field more than medicine and the legal landscape related to it. For example the personal injury sector has been greatly changed by the virus. This includes purchased insurance products and their coverage. The role of technology is huge, tech now provides for the possibility of an efficient, transparent, and consistent claims that are being handled across Ireland.

The Impact

While it is not clear how much the Coronavirus is impacting the personal injury field, the debate will continue for quite some time. There are many questions how COVID-19 will change the government and legislative priorities. The courts will increase their focus on digital platforms to handle cases related to the personal injury industry and others. Technology will need to improve the sector and meet the anticipated shifts in the legal landscape in the middle. Policies will also need to be revised by insurers to allow for more rabid digital dispute resolution.

Cyber infrastructure is greatly affected, with Ireland changing the way it is working with these resources. Using computers and mobile devices, personal injury cases could be heard remotely. This is perhaps the largest impact of the pandemic on personal injury cases according to McGinley, which is a legal team that works on personal injury claims. With social distancing measures, more cases will need to be held virtually.

Advantages of Remote Personal Injury Cases

The most obvious benefit of remote personal injury cases is that the people won’t have to interact with each other. This will help mitigate the number of COVID-19 cases and keep everyone safe, allowing them to litigate personal injury cases.  It can also help speed up these cases and provide the courts the ability to take on more. There is also inconsistency among the courts in terms of their approach. Some are conducting all of their hearings with audio or video while others are only adopting this method only for interim hearings.

Disadvantages of Remote Personal Injury Cases

While remote court cases can be fulfilled quicker with remote hearings, an increasing back-log of cases is inevitable. With some injury cases, the court may need to see the injury with their own eyes. This could, of course, change the outcome of the case if they only see it on a screen.

There could be a delay of at least six months for the most contentious cases. The delivery of health care over medical legal work has resulted in the cancellation of medical legal appointments. Other times virtual examination is simply not feasible. Postponements will inevitably impact the cycle of many of these cases. Claimants may seek sub-prime cases that may otherwise not have been done previously. There could be little or no action taken for months, even years. Though some cases may be accelerating, there is an expected lag in personal injury claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Future

The biggest difference that COVID-19 will leave in its wake is that the digital infrastructure will be set up and running. By accelerating the availability of resources, there will be more options for personal injury courts in the future. Even when the pandemic is over, having multiple avenues to litigate these cases will make the system more efficient.

There will be greater collaboration when it comes to dealing with court timetables. Some firms are pursuing disproportionate and premature action disclosure applications or immediate enforcement actions. Careful consideration will need to be given to virtual examinations, and for some cases a physical examination may be necessary. The increased prevalence of fraudulent claims should be considered through the context of an economic downturn and with a potential increase in staged accidents and exaggerated claims.

The implementation of new reforms have been pushed back to April 2021. Insurers will be mindful of this, and some experts have suggested that the further delay may see a slow in reforms. While no one knows for sure how everything in the personal injury legal landscape will change, it will continue to evolve during this turbulent time. Although it might take a while for cases to be litigated, in the end the obstacles will help the courts diversify.