In the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) climate, there is, unfortunately, a large amount of misinformation swirling around. Sadly, some of these incorrect or misleading information comes even from very high profile and high authority sources.
This disarray is confusing and complicates the national discourse around our coronavirus-fighting strategies, not to mention fracturing our sense of unity at a time when we need to be united. A few important areas in need of clarification include access to medical treatment, the status of court proceedings, and the conversations comparing COVID-19 mortality to car accident deaths or recession-caused fatalities.
At Thompson Law, our primary concern is always our clients. We are hoping that this information is helpful to you. If at any point you have questions or concerns about the impact of the current climate on your specific claim or case, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help, and your legal team is still working hard (remotely) to advance your case, help shepherd your treatment concerns, and negotiate for your best possible outcome.
Medical Treatment Availability
The first point of confusion is related to medical care. It certainly feels like every mailing list we’ve ever been on is sending an update right now. Some of these messages are helpful and needed, but some are ineffective, unclear, or even outdated by the time you see them. It’s become hard to keep track of all the updates about each company’s approach. This is only made more complicated when considering access to essential medical care and services during this time.
It is important to know that medical providers are essential services, so they remain open even during shelter-in-place orders. Your doctor, dentist, pharmacist, and any other specialists will likely have revised procedures for visiting the office and maybe limiting or postponing routine or non-emergency appointments in efforts to limit exposure of their patients and staff. If you have an appointment scheduled, call your provider for the confirmation of the details.
Additionally, more and more providers are offering telehealth services. These virtual appointments can be held from the comfort of your home by video conferencing with your doctor. This can be a great option for routine care, minor illnesses, mental health, and even physical therapy appointments.
A new development resulting from the pandemic is the availability of drive–through clinics. These locations can be extremely effective for rapidly and safely performing tests for individuals who suspect they may have COVID-19. Check listings in your local area if this is a resource that could help you or your family. Be sure to only make use of the service if you truly suspect you have contracted the virus, in order to help preserve supplies and resources at testing locations.
Finally, despite the current uncertainty and changes, it’s especially important to maintain your health. If you are injured or sick, prioritize your care. Make sure that you talk to your providers about your experience and your needs so that you can get the recovery and treatment that is essential to your health and well-being. If you are involved in a personal injury settlement, this is also important for the success of your case. Delays or gaps in treatment can be grounds for insurance companies to deny or delay your claim. Stay safe, and follow the instructions of health experts helping you, but don’t hesitate to speak up for the injury, pain, or illness relief you need.
What’s happening with courts? Are they open? How will my case move forward? These questions are heavy on the minds of those with ongoing legal concerns during this time.
The changes to court practice and proceedings have been evolving during this crisis. In Texas, all emergency orders from The Supreme Court of Texas can be viewed here. For the time being, court access and procedures have been restricted to varying degrees. Some of the changes are unprecedented, and it is a period of adjustment to work through the restrictions.
Cases continuing as usual at this time are those considered essential, such as restraining orders and family violence protective orders, Child Protective Service hearing, and criminal magistrate hearings. Outside of the essential-designated cases, videoconferencing for trials, hearings, depositions will be allowed, sworn statements outside of the court may be allowed, the statute of limitations on lawsuit filing is extended 30 days past the ultimate lift of the Governor’s state of disaster, and courts must be notified if an individual participating in a hearing has COVID-19 symptoms.
If you are currently involved in a personal injury case, talk to your attorney and legal team. They will be able to guide you through the updated processes we are facing and will keep you informed of ongoing developments and options. A small hope may come in the form of insurance companies better cooperating to resolve claims, and avoiding prolonged, costly legal battles during this complicated time.
With a large number of people impacted by these changes to court operations, we will have systemic issues that will need to be resolved after this crisis. With Thompson Law in your corner, you will have a tremendous resource and dedicated legal experts by your side to help you every step of the way going forward.
In addition to concerns around medical and legal facilities, there has also been a somewhat surprising spotlight on the danger of car accidents in the past couple of weeks. People seem drawn to the search for comparisons to the scope of the tragedy we are facing. Reflecting on the mortality and injury rates that result from motor vehicle accidents annually has prompted some to draw a line of similarity to the mortality and infection rates we are seeing due to COVID-19.
The need to categorize coronavirus impacts in relation to more familiar tragedies is understandable. However, comparing the pandemic to car accident losses is not accurate or particularly helpful. First of all, rates of infection and mortality of the virus occur in population-dense areas at a vastly higher rate than the distribution of car accidents. There are 38,000 car accident fatalities in the United States each year. The first COVID-19 death in the nation occurred on February 29th, and less than 6 weeks later, there have already been over 14,800 deaths.
Second, when a car accident victim goes into the hospital, they don’t run the risk of infecting other patients and staff with a car accident injury. Thus, the contagious nature of a virus-like COVID-19 means that it is a completely different and greater danger in the medical environment. When asked about the similarity of the pandemic to car accidents, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Disease (NIH, NIAID) and a senior member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, called this line of reasoning “an irresponsible fallacy.”
What About a Recession?
Similar to talk of car accidents, the deadliness of economic downturn and the recession has also been discussed as a point of comparison to the mortality rate of COVID-19. Statements have been made that shutting down the economy in efforts to physically distance the population would do more harm than help. The thinking goes that economic depression and the resulting stress, hopelessness, and depression amongst the population would result in high suicide rates, and the recession fatalities would outweigh lives saved from the virus during the shutdown.
In fact, the evidence from past epidemics and recessions shows the exact opposite. In a recent joint study conducted by MIT and the Fed, cities that take stronger containment measures fare better economically in the aftermath. The research comes from the flu epidemic of 1918, and by comparing similar cities with differing approaches to stopping the spread, the experts were able to isolate and evaluate the economic results of each approach. Cities like Minneapolis, Cleveland, and Los Angeles had fewer deaths and better economic recovery than their counterparts of St. Paul, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco, because of proactive and aggressive responses to slow the spread.
A different study, from research publication Social Science & Medicine in September 2017 reported on findings from the United States years 2005-2008, where unemployment levels rose. During this period mortality rates dropped, with notable decreases in cardiovascular disease fatalities, as well as a decrease in a range of causes for adults under 65. This is not the only study to report such findings. There is evidence to indicate an uptick in suicide, including accidental overdose, during recessions may occur. But experts in medicine and epidemiology have attested that the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, if left uncontained, would result in far more deaths than recession-related suicide.
Flatten the Curve
In regard to both of the above-attempted comparisons, there is another important aspect to this pandemic we must consider. While the dangers of recession and car accidents (the latter we know all too well at Thompson Law) are very considerable, the rate at which their impacts occur is spread over time. Even if there is a very large motor vehicle crash involving many people, it’s unlikely to overwhelm an entire hospital, let alone an entire region’s worth of health resources. An uptick in overdose or suicide in an economic downturn also would not overwhelm medical institutions. This is a marked difference from the danger of coronavirus.
We are already seeing health care institutions overwhelmed, as in New York where the Javitz Convention Center and Navy ship the USNS Comfort needed to support the hospital systems by providing extra space for patients and healthcare workers. The danger in overburdening our hospitals is all too clear when we see the experience of other nations like Spain and Italy in this crisis. In order to avoid the same devastating results here at home, it is essential to take containment measures and flatten the curve.
The mass global scale of this crisis does make it unique and unprecedented. Uncertainty about what will happen and how quickly events will progress is understandably worrying. However, there are historic precedents for discrete aspects of our situation that we can look to for guidance. Research from the influenza pandemic of 1918, year over year motor vehicle accident trends, and reputable current day reports provide valuable guideposts for us as we navigate this pandemic together.
Events will continue to evolve and develop, and more challenges will come, but this crisis will eventually end. For now, Thompson Law continues to adapt to our changing circumstances, in a continuous effort to provide our clients and community with the best service possible. We hope to be of aid and assistance by bringing you pertinent, timely information from our areas of expertise that helps you and your family navigate this period.
We are still open and fully operational, able to take on new clients and continuing to work hard serving our existing clients. If we can be of any assistance in the face of an accident or injury you have experienced during this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on the web or over the phone.
If you found this article helpful, also visit:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Helpful Information & Safety Tips
Car Accident Numbers Plummet after Stay-at-Home Mandates Issued to Limit Coronavirus Spread
Will Car Insurance Rates Decrease During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Texas is two years, so if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The sooner you know your options, the sooner you are on the path to recovery and your deserved compensation. Call the 4 and get the roar right away for assistance with your injury and claim: 214-444-4444, 817-444-4444, 972-444-4444, 469-444-4444, or toll-free at 1-800-LION-LAW.