For the last few months, courts across the State of New York have not been receiving new complaints, except in certain extreme cases. On March 22, the chief administrative judge of New York State Courts barred all new filings in nonessential matters and extended the tolling for statute of limitations until June 6, 2020.
Now that New York courts are beginning to reopen, what does that mean for personal injury clients who have new filings? Littman and Babiarz, personal injury lawyers in Ithaca and Auburn, NY, are prepared to handle your claims according to the latest court guidelines as they unfold through each phase of reopening.
COVID-19 Lockdown and Court Matters
In actual practice, the statewide courts never closed. Certain criminal and family matters were still allowed, and by mid-April, the courts were referring many litigants to conference cases for possible resolution or disposition. In fact, over 50,000 matters have been handled by conference across the entire state.
But this left many other legal matters hanging in the balance, awaiting even a chance to file, much less a fair hearing. Of course, the unknown and potentially horrific dangers of COVID-19 led to unprecedented actions across the state and the nation, which included seriously curtailing legal proceedings in group and/or face-to-face settings.
What Do Courts Reopening Mean for Personal Injury Filings?
When New York State’s e-filing system reopened on Memorial Day for new filings, the normal load of cases tripled and quadrupled in some county courts. According to the latest declaration before this writing, all regional courthouses, judges and court personnel should be back to work in their assigned locations, in either phase one or phase two of the planned reopening protocols, by June 10.
As the courts reopen slowly, litigants can expect a huge backlog of new filings and long waiting times for cases to be heard. Reportedly, some busy jurisdictions plan to obtain additional staff and provide extra times for handling the expected deluge of cases. The Court System of New York believes it is essential that every person who has been victimized get their day in court, so all possible measures will be utilized to speed the process along.
Two main questions concern those wishing to file new claims for personal injuries:
- How will the reopening affect my new personal injury filing?
- Should I be willing to settle quickly out of court instead of waiting much longer for a court date?
Littman and Babiarz, personal injury attorneys in Syracuse, advise new clients to discuss their claims with us personally for specific advice regarding their personal injury incident. We can arrange to consult with you via videoconference if necessary. All new claimants should be prepared for long waits for filings to be accepted and processed, even as the courts move through the planned reopening phases and allow more people to access the courts.
Claimants should also be aware that insurance company attorneys will always exert pressure toward accepting a quick settlement that is usually far less than adequate. Or you may feel internal pressure to settle for at least some amount if COVID-19 has severely impacted your job and you’ve been out of work. Littman and Babiarz, your personal injury law firm in Ithaca and Auburn, NY, can advise clients on a case by case basis regarding settlements. Every claim is different – a settlement could be in your best interests.
Call or message us online today for counsel regarding your personal injury claims in Auburn, Ithaca, Syracuse and all across Central New York.