Will Coronavirus Affect My Missouri Medical Malpractice Claim?
Posted in Medical Malpractice on June 12, 2020
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every aspect of American life, including the lives of Missouri residents. From closed restaurants and office buildings to mandatory social distancing requirements, this virus has made an impact everywhere we look. If you are filing a medical malpractice claim in Missouri civil court, this pandemic may affect your timeline.
The Coronavirus Pandemic and Pre-Trial Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice claims begin long before you reach the courtroom, and even before you file your lawsuit. In many cases, your personal injury attorney will need to investigate your claim and inform the at-fault party of your intent to file prior to filing the claim in civil court. In this stage, you may enter negotiations with the at-fault party to reach a settlement prior to entering the courtroom process.
If your medical malpractice claim has not reached trial yet and is still in these early stages, the coronavirus pandemic is not likely to affect your claim. People who can work remotely are continuing to do so, including medical malpractice attorneys who can learn your story and evaluate your claim over the phone or via video conferencing platforms. In addition, you may be able to enter negotiations remotely as well.
COVID-19 and Medical Malpractice Evidence Collection
COVID-19 may stall your attorney’s ability to collect evidence for your case, however. Not all government or medical officials have the ability to work remotely, and may face a significant backlog when returning from office shutdowns or a swarm of patients infected with the virus.
In addition, many records offices are limiting the number of visitors to their locations, and your attorney may not be able to retrieve your documents in a timely manner. It may take longer to gather important pieces of evidence such as accident reports, medical records, and surveillance footage. The longer it takes to gather evidence, the longer it will take for your attorney to file your claim.
How Will Coronavirus Affect Civil Court Cases in Missouri?
The COVID-19 pandemic’s largest impact on Missouri medical malpractice claims is the trial process. You must attend a medical malpractice trial, usually in-person, if you wish to receive a settlement and pre-trial negotiations are unsuccessful. While the government of Missouri is easing COVID-19 restrictions as of June 2020, many courts are facing a significant backlog of cases. When the courts reopen, it may take longer for your trial to begin.
Each court in the state of Missouri must follow certain operational directives before they can open to full capacity and see cases on a regular basis as they did pre-COVID-19. As such, each court is reopening jury proceedings, including medical malpractice cases, on a different schedule. You can view the status of each court in the state on the Missouri Courts website.
Each court is under a specific operational phase that must follow specific guidelines. During all phases, everyone must follow social distancing protocols, wear masks, and undergo COVID-19 screenings.
- Phase Zero courts suspend most in-person court proceedings.
- Phase One courts can resume critical proceedings, but courtrooms cannot have more than 10 people present if possible.
- Phase Two courts can resume additional proceedings with a 25-person limit.
- Phase Three courts can resume proceedings and follow social distancing protocols.
Most courts are in the Phase Two phrase, with many others in Phases Zero and One.
Contact a Kansas City, MO Malpractice Lawyer
If you are filing a medical malpractice claim in Missouri and are unsure how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect its outcome, contact a Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Your malpractice attorney can help create an estimated timeline for your case and inform you of the protocols in your specific court jurisdiction.