How COVID-19 Has Impacted Personal Injury Legislation in Ireland

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It is no secret that COVID-19 has greatly affected the world, and the medical industry in general. While every sector of medicine has been changed by the virus, personal injury cases are particularly impacted. With social distancing and quarantine measures, these court cases are being moved online. The courts have been forced to set up the cyber infrastructure to hold remote hearings. The system is definitely not perfect and will need to be perfected, when this is all over the courts will be diversified.

COVID-19 & Personal Injury Claims

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer, which can include purchased insurance products and their coverage. It has changed the role of technology in the courts, it now provides a more efficient and transparent way to handle claims in Ireland. There are many questions about how this will all impact the court cases. The debate will continue through a political and medical lens. There will be undoubtedly increases in the focus on digital trading platforms, there is also an increased call for clarity on government-led plans for modernizing the courts. Technology will improved the litigation landscape, the attitudes will need to evolve with the tech.

Immediate Implications

The virus has already made a significant implications for the court system in Ireland. With practical issues for the management of litigation, the courts will change and go through uncertainty. By implementing social distancing measures, technology has increased the number of remote litigation. However there appears to be an ever-increasing backlog of cases that need to be litigated.

There are also local variations to how this is being handled despite the general consistency of remote court cases. While some courts are conducting all of their hearings virtually, others are only adopting virtual options for interim hearings. There is an absence of specific rule amendments, which has resulted in local practice directions. People are expecting a delay of at least six months for contentious cases. There has also been cancellations of medico-legal appointments, which is due to social distancing measures and priortising health care.

Disadvantages of Remote Court

While personal injury cases may be accelerated, the accuracy will also be impacted. According to the personal injury solicitors McGinley, virtual examination is not always feasible, cancellations and postponements will inevitably impact upon the cycle of many cases. With a backlog of cases, some may be sped up unnecessarily, negatively impacting the results. This also increases the possibility of people trying to get a settlement for an illegitimate incident. Furthermore, with reduced frequency in claims some cases have been extended, often resulting in an increase in their settlement value.

The Future of Courts

The future of courts is uncertain, but we know some things already. First there will be more collaboration when it comes to court timelines. Not all insurers are following this proposal; some are requesting extensions to the limitation in forensic context. The speed of cases is fluctuating a lot, and will likely not stabilize for a while. There has also been careful consideration given on each case before agreeing to virtual examinations. In addition, a case could require a physical examination at a later date.

However, in-person examinations may be preferable where credibility could be an issue or where the injuries do not lend themselves to a remote hearing. Claims will need to be watched carefully for fraud. There will be a potential increase in contrived accidents that were caused with a settlement in mind. More hearings will be conducted remotely even after the pandemic is over, which is arguably the biggest positive of the transition.

When Ireland is done with social distancing measures, the courts will have more options to litigate cases. Some will still be done in person while others can be handled remotely. While it may not be as efficient as it could be now, virtual courts are opening the doors by setting up the cyber infrastructure. It will ultimately lead to more productivity when there is more stability in the courts. However you look at it, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to impact our lives for months, if not years, to come. While only time will tell how this will pan out, we are watching the changes every day.

July 28, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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