This is the second entry dedicated to the effects which Covid-19 has had upon the legal industry, and more particularly the day-to-day practice at Worby Vecchio Edelman LLP.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Personal Injury Cases
In our last column, we reported that the New York State Court system was open for essential business only, and as important as our clients’ cases remain to our firm, personal injury cases were not considered to be essential. We are happy to report that on April 13, the Courts started to hold Settlement Conferences on personal injury cases. And, while we are still not permitted to file new lawsuits, Courts are issuing rulings on Motions. There are steps being taken to re-open the New York State Court system.
Our Entire Legal Staff is Still Working and Preparing Cases to File
The accident attorneys at Worby Vecchio Edelman LLP are preparing cases to file as soon as we are permitted to do so. We continue to maintain our practice. Our entire legal staff is working remotely, and we are doing as much as we can to move our clients’ cases to resolution, just as if we were in the office. All of us have full access to our systems. You can communicate with your attorney and paralegal as you always have, either by e-mail, or by simply leaving a voicemail message at a particular extension. All e-mails and voicemails will receive a response. Our physical office is staffed every day, so all mail is received and distributed to the assigned attorney and paralegal.
The Governor’s prior Executive Order 202.8, which had suspended filing deadlines from March 20 to April 19, 2020, has been extended to May 7. Since new case filings are not possible, and due to the Governor’s prior order which extended stay at home orders through May 15, we expect that the filing deadline will be extended again.
Our attorneys speak to insurance companies on a daily basis. We are exchanging documents such as medical records and witness information. We are in communication with agencies such as CMS, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, so we can still determine and finalize Medicare pay-back issues.
The September 11 Victim Compensation Fund reports that the Fund remains operational for its most important function, reviewing claims and issuing monetary awards. Prior to the crisis, the VCF uploaded and also mailed letters to Claimants. As of right now (late April) the VCF has discontinued mailing letters; it will now only upload the letters. While filing deadlines remain – your claim must be filed by July 28, 2021 – there are other deadlines which have been modified. As an example, an Award Letter might contain a 30 day deadline to appeal that award. If the Award is not appealed during that timeframe, a new 30-day period to appeal will start when a hard copy of the Award letter is mailed. We encourage you to call us with any questions you might have about this process. You can also explore the VCF website, located at www.vcf.gov.
The World Trade Center Health Program, which must certify your 9/11-related condition in order to be eligible for VCF benefits, is also operational. Treatment appointments are still in effect, and the WTC has issued Certification Letters. We are able to upload all communications to the VCF, and original documents can still be mailed as required.
We reported last month that because of the inability to file new cases, there was reason to believe that the one year window to file Child Victims Act cases would be extended past the current August 13, 2020 deadline. As of the date of this column, that deadline has not been extended. Therefore, we encourage you to call us now to discuss these claims.
We Are Here For You
No one could have imagined the extent to which the Coronavirus would affect our practice, not to mention our daily lives. At the same time, though, the accident attorneys at Worby Vecchio Edelman LLP have risen to the occasion. We are here for you, just as we always have been. Call us at any time; we will respond to your inquiries, and continue to handle your case in an expeditious manner.