DO DOCTORS STILL SEE THEIR “PERSONAL INJURY” PATIENTS DURING THE PANDEMIC?
In the realm of personal injury litigation in California, the effect of the pandemic will be most harshly felt by plaintiffs, the parties that suffer physical and financial harms as a result of another’s negligence. Also sometimes referred to as “claimants” or “victims”, plaintiffs bear the burden of showing proof of these harms to the insurance company, the judge, and/or the jury. Unfortunately for plaintiffs, the effects of the pandemic have made it harder to get justice for their harms, including, among other things, getting timely and continuous medical care for their ongoing injuries.
It is true that there was a time period earlier this year where many found it difficult to contact their doctors or get appointments, but times and restrictions against in-person medical care have changed. These days, a plaintiff should expect to have access to an in-person medical appointment, unless the office is closed following an exposure to an infected person. Under those circumstances, the office might be closed for disinfection and quarantine of exposed staff for up to 14 calendar days or more. Otherwise, a plaintiff should expect the medical office to follow what may feel like the standard COVID-19 protocol, including a requirement of facial coverings/masks, completion of symptom screening including contactless temperature reading, and various social distancing measures, to name a few.
When it comes to proving ongoing injuries and symptoms, it is critical to obtain timely medical care and evaluations according to the strict schedule and guidance your doctor recommends! If a plaintiff encounters troubling getting a medical appointment or discovers their provider’s office is closed for a couple days or weeks, they should immediately call their attorneys to make other arrangements. In the meantime, insist upon an immediate “telemedicine”/telephone appointment with the medical office or referring physician and/or send written or electronic communications to this effect. These actions will likely be very critical to your attorneys’ ability to bring your matter to a successful conclusion.