The pandemic might raise legal standards for the duty of care in personal injury cases

PopDiaries Desk
·5-min read

The persistent health crisis has plenty in store for the United States now and beyond. There’s no way of telling how much virus transmission will decrease following vaccination, but it’s certain that we’ll continue to live in a world where wearing a face mask is the norm and social distancing will still be needed. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic won’t stop even if the vast majority of the American population gets immunity. While the prospect of the COVID-19 vaccine is indeed exciting, it doesn’t replace need to continue to follow the CDC’s guidelines, not to mention government regulations. Given that the coronavirus outbreak is an extraordinary event, it’s worth looking into the ways it has impacted the justice system.

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People continue to deal with events such as slip and falls, auto accidents, medical negligence, and so on. Coronavirus restrictions brought about harsh consequences. To be more precise, numerous issues involving the courtroom have been postponed until the emergency comes to an end. Personal injury cases can’t be solved in a timely manner, which means that victims face delays in obtaining compensation. Due to stress caused by the ongoing health crisis, many choose to settle out of court. They are either in a tight financial situation or are coping with job loss and need the money to prevent a genuine disaster. Collecting compensation might be more challenging because many businesses are taken back by the economic pressure; even if a business is insured, it might not be able to pay.

It’s important to change the current perspective and be more positive. As the epidemic continues to unfold, those in the legal profession are working harder for their clients and local communities. Some personal injury attorneys have succeeded in reopening office locations for the general public and pushing cases forward during these highly uncertain times. It’s not recommended to delay personal injury claims due to the coronavirus outbreak. Claims might take longer to process than before the pandemic, the deadlines and the statute of limitations are pretty much the same. Additionally, legal professionals work on a contingency basis, which translates into the fact that the fee is payable only if there is a winning case. The point is that life needs to continue, despite the pandemic.

The duty of care element in personal injury cases

Legal professionals have started to contemplate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the laws. Some personal injury attorneys believe that the coronavirus outbreak will change the legal standards when it comes down to the duty of care. For the purpose of clarification, duty of care is a legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of others. Put simply, you have to take the necessary steps to not cause foreseeable harm to another person. If anyone fails to meet this obligation, they can be held liable for their actions. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that each state has laws concerning negligence. If you plan to file a lawsuit in Texas, you can’t do so without getting a good understanding of the state’s negligence laws. Otherwise, you must pay the legal fees or risk facing a countersuit from the defendant.

Proving negligence remains the same no matter the state’s negligence laws. The plaintiff is required to demonstrate that the defendant didn’t act as a reasonable person under the circumstances. They have to prove duty, breach, causation, and actual harm. The duty of care depends on several factors, including but not limited to the relevant statutes, rules, and regulations, not to mention the relationship between the parties. The question now is: What is a good example of a breach in the duty of care? Imagine the following situation: You’ve bought a product designed with flaws. Your injury was caused by the defective product. According to the experts at Baumgartner Law Firm, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers have a duty of care to make sure that the product is safe for use. If duty of care was breached resulting in an injury, the person in question deserves compensation for medical bills, lows wages, and pain and suffering.

A changing law landscape means we might have new standards for the duty of care

The pandemic is slowly but surely changing the legal landscape, both in America and abroad. It’s necessary to specify from the very beginning what makes a reasonable duty of care. What was adequate in the past might not be sufficient today. The common law doctrine “duty of care” helps us understand ourselves and our obligations, so how does it translate in the context of a persistent health crisis? Many argue that the standards for what is considered reasonable are stricter, especially when it comes to business owners who have to take care of their employees’ health and safety. In this case, reasonable care means that the employer is obligated to evaluate possible risks and provide a safe place to work, safe work equipment, personal protective equipment, and competent colleagues.

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, corporations were held to a higher duty of care to ensure safety. With the changes looming on the horizon, it will be necessary to undertake higher levels of action. To be more precise, a higher standard of care is expected from businesses such as nursing homes. Very few claims involving nursing homes have been received by the U.S. courts. Nonetheless, a breach of duty can lead to a claim under tort law. If someone catches the deadly coronavirus in a nursing home, they can accuse the business of poor practices. The way in which legal obligations function have, therefore, suffered a change during the pandemic. Establishing that duty of care is breached is situationally dependent on dynamic factors.

All in all, we might be facing potential changes regarding what’s acceptable as duty of care. In other words, there will be a new normal. If you’ve suffered harm as the result of someone else’s careless actions, it’s paramount to reach out to a personal injury attorney and review your case. The legal professional will determine whether the company owed you a duty of care and what negligence they have allowed.