Personal Injury Lawyer
As a personal injury lawyer who handles lawsuits involving medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and neglect, catastrophic car, bus and truck accidents and wrongful death cases, an active trial calendar is part and parcel of my business. We consider trial dates to be sacrosanct; it is a mortal sin in our business to continue a trial due to lack of preparation. Trial dates are critical to our clients because the trial date drives resolution of the case either through settlement or a jury verdict if the case cannot be settled. Without a trial date, defendants and their insurance companies have no incentive to settle cases. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, jury trials have been put on hold throughout the United States. This stalling of the civil justice system is both tragic and unwarranted.
Trial courts have a constitutional duty to administer justice. While a temporary cessation in jury trials was clearly required as society adjusted to life after coronavirus, we are approaching the one-year anniversary of many court closures. A few courts have adjusted by creating safe arenas for trying cases, such as large classrooms where social distancing can be practiced, along with other requirements such as masking and frequent handwashing. Other courts have plowed ahead with business as usual without any reports of the trial turning into a “super spreader” event. Still other courts have adapted by undertaking trial by videoconference or Zoom with success. However, the vast majority of courts have shut down, giving judges a one-year vacation with pay and costing civil litigants dearly.
According to an article published in the N.Y. Daily News, “according to the (N.Y.) Office of Court Administration data obtained by the News, lawsuits filed in the State dropped by 24% in 2020, but the number of lawsuits resolved went down at an even sharper rate, 39% compared to 2019. The State’s backlog of open cases grew by 8%, according to the data.”
It has long been said that “justice delayed is justice denied.” This saying holds true more than ever as individuals suffering severe personal injuries or wrongful death as a result of another’s negligence are deprived of the opportunity to both settle their case or, when settlement cannot be achieved, have their day in court. Courts who have failed to adapt to the coronavirus epidemic, like every other industry in the United States has, and thereby failed in their constitutional mandate to administer justice in this country.
We continue to make efforts to resolve cases through mediation, which is a glorified settlement conference, but defendants and their insurance companies are reluctant to engage in settlement discussions without a pending trial date. As such, many people who have been injured or suffered fatalities as a result of medical negligence, nursing home negligence or other preventable accidents continue to wait. If you have a case, contact a lawyer from a firm like Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. today.