Under normal conditions, courthouses are bustling with people. After all, everyone from judges and juries to attorneys and witnesses to bailiffs and court reporters is necessary for a legal case to move forward. But in March 2020, the judicial process in Virginia and elsewhere came to a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 16, the Supreme Court of Virginia declared a judicial emergency, suspending all non-essential court proceedings for 21 days. The order was extended multiple times until it was finally allowed to expire on June 7. The judicial system in Virginia is now in a phased transition from emergency to routine operations.
What does this mean for your Virginia personal injury lawsuit?
The limitations created by COVID-19 are forcing courts and attorneys to adapt so they can continue to operate with the health and safety of their clients and the general public in mind. Here’s what this means for your personal injury lawsuit:
- Remote proceedings: While non-essential court cases are now being heard, they are largely taking place remotely. Instead of in-person meetings, you may be asked to “attend” virtual settlement conferences, depositions, petitions, and motions by way of telephone calls or video conferencing.
- Slower progress: Cases were at a standstill for several months while courthouses operated with limited functionality or closed altogether. Now, the judicial system is working to catch up, which could cause holdups in your case.
- Delayed medical record retrieval: Even during pre-pandemic times, it could take weeks to obtain pertinent records for a medical malpractice lawsuit. With hospitals under added strain, further delays are possible.
- Pushed back court dates: The Supreme Court of Virginia has approved plans to restart jury trials in several of the state’s Circuit Courts by mid-September, but because of the backlog, many cases are now being pushed forward well into 2021. You are more likely to have your case expedited if it’s tried before a judge without a panel of jurors (known as a bench trial).
- Statute of limitations: In Virginia, the statute of limitations is typically two years, meaning you must file your claim before that amount of time elapses from your date of injury. Therefore, you shouldn’t wait to begin the process, even with the current limitations in place.
- Continued attention to detail: Even though COVID-19 has led to unusual restrictions and slowdowns in the judicial process, you can expect nothing less than the highest standards of representation from us. The Law Firm of Kevin Paul Childers is at work with our full staff and all client services available throughout this challenging time. Rest assured that we are following the directives established by the Court and Governor Northam to ensure the best possible care and safety of our clients.
If you need assistance filing a personal injury claim in Virginia, contact our team today. Whether we can meet in person or must communicate remotely, we will represent your case professionally and hold the responsible party accountable for their actions against you.