Coronavirus Blog: Coronavirus and Auto Accident Claims

June 16th, 2020 | by RON BELL

Coronavirus Blog: Coronavirus and Auto Accident Claims

In another installment of our ongoing series about the current pandemic’s impact on personal injury claims, we analyze how motor vehicle accident trends have changed during this pandemic. We also provide some practical advice to help you secure your compensation rights despite certain challenges caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. 

As we noted in one of the previous blogs in our ongoing coronavirus series, the pandemic has changed our daily lives in many unexpected ways. Transportation and travel are two areas where the impact of the sudden spread of the disease is, perhaps, most readily perceivable. Shortly after stay-at-home orders began to be issued, the media outlets and our social media feeds alike were flooded with pictures of once-bustling streets and avenues now eerily abandoned. 

According to one study, nationwide traffic dropped by as much as 30 percent as working from home, social-distancing, and obeying stay-at-home orders has increased. In some major cities, this drop was even more pronouncedfor example, San Francisco saw 51 percent less traffic at certain times of the pandemic while New York experienced a 43 percent decrease.

Naturally, it is expected that changes in travel and transportation patterns would have a significant impact on motor vehicle accident claims. Less traffic, in principle, should translate into a smaller number of car crashes and claims. Indeed, at first glance, statistics from all over the country seem to confirm this.

However, a closer look at this issue reveals a more complex picture of the situation. For example, while it is true that in general, traffic volume has plummeted, the distribution of that change hasn’t been uniform. In Albuquerque, many citizens found respite from sheltering at home by taking longer drives to reach open space and hiking areas. That’s why, during the pandemic, we have seen an increase in accidents on Alameda Boulevard, Montaño Road, and I-40. Unfortunately, these mini-road trips may have contributed to the number of serious car crashes in both April and May, some of which have proven fatal. 

Worrying Motor Vehicle Accident Trends During the Pandemic

Similar worrying patterns of traffic accidents have been observed across the US. While the overall number of car crashes has decreased, some cities have seen the number of fatal accidents rise considerably. Disturbingly, some areas have seen twice as many fatalities in 2020 than they have in any year going back to about 2015. In other places, the number of injuries per crash is higher than before the pandemic, even though the general numbers are down.

One possible cause of this increase may be driving over the speed limit. Emboldened by decreased traffic volume and less congested streets, some drivers abuse the speed limit which leads to more dangerous collisions. Indeed, data show that police patrols in some US cities are issuing more citations for speeding than in the same period last year. In Minnesota, dozens of drivers are being stopped and cited for driving over 100 miles per hour on a weekly basis.

Closer to home, another worrying and dangerous trend that has been observed in Albuquerque is a sudden spike in street racing. In early May, the Albuquerque Police Department issued over 100 tickets during an operation aimed at cracking down on street racing. Street racing is a major traffic safety concern during the pandemic, as exemplified by a video recorded by helicopter camera, showing a motorcyclist weaving in and out of traffic and ART bus lanes, traveling over 100 miles an hour. 

What You Can Do When Injured in a Car Accident During the Pandemic

As shown, the risk of getting into a dangerous car accident and suffering major injuries is still high despite the overall drop in traffic volume caused by the pandemic. How can you protect your right to financial compensation if you have recently been injured in such an accident?

The first thing you must realize is that, potentially, the pandemic and all its impacts may make the personal injury process more challenging for you. Why? First of all, some hospitals and other healthcare providers may be overwhelmed while others are bracing themselves for a potential increase of COVID-19 patients. That’s why accident victims may find it difficult to maintain continuity of their treatment after their initial injuries have been treated. 

Maintaining treatment continuity and ensuring that this process is well-documented is of tantamount importance from the perspective of a personal injury claim for at least two reasons. First, as an injury victim, you must achieve what is known as maximum medical improvement (MMI) in order for your lawyer to be able to accurately estimate the impact of your injuries on your life and put a monetary value on your claim. Second, thorough medical documentation of the injuries and subsequent treatment is a vital element of a strong legal claim, serving as proof of the extent of your injuries and their impact on your life.

How can you ensure that you will be able to achieve both of these goals even if you’re finding it difficult to access medical services? Here are a few practical steps you may take without delay:

  • Document your injuries and your improvement. Start a journal and take pictures. Be specific.
  • Obtain medical attention that you need electronically as much as possible. Research to find out if any of your local health care providers have begun offering virtual consultations.
  • Stay in touch with your local hospital, clinic, or other medical providers to learn when you may be able to obtain the treatment you need in person.

Despite these challenges, you shouldn’t get discouraged and put your auto accident claim on hold. Most personal injury lawyers, including Ron Bell Injury Lawyers, have managed to move their operations online and are still offering personal consultations on injury claims via electronic means. One of our personal injury lawyers will also be able to give you more specific advice, tailored to your unique circumstances. This will help you ensure you will still be able to obtain the financial compensation you deserve as soon as possible even as the pandemic rages on.

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