COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on how we do many things. It has changed how many of us work, socialise and interact with one another. You might be wondering how has the pandemic affected the legal industry? And how is your compensation claim being progressed during this time?
You’ll be pleased to know that Slater and Gordon and the wider legal community are working hard to try to minimise the impact to your claim. This article lists some of the ways we’re continuing to move your claim forward during lockdown in Victoria.
My case is going to court, how will the lockdown affect me?
This will depend on where your matter is being heard. The Victorian County and Supreme Courts converted to remote hearings and adapted to digital processes early on during the pandemic, which is great news. Although some cases were adjourned in the first few months of the pandemic, cases in the County or Supreme Courts are now generally running well, unless there is a need for in-person activities such as accident scene visits. Hearings are being held virtually using Webex and Zoom, so you can generally give evidence for your hearing right at home. If you don’t have the technology to do so, Slater and Gordon can organise an iPad to be couriered to you so you can dial in, as part of our efforts to try to minimise the disruptions to your matter and improving access to justice.
If you are pursuing a damages claim for your injury, it is important to note that trials are not currently being heard by juries in Victoria. However, in many cases they can be heard remotely with only a judge present, in yet another effort to minimise delays to cases.
Unfortunately, if your matter is with the Victorian Magistrate’s Court or VCAT there may be a delay in having your matter heard. Few cases have been able to proceed remotely in the Magistrates’ Court, whilst VCAT has not been hearing cases via video conference. However, the Magistrates’ Court has been able to hold Early Neutral Evaluations (a type of mediation) in many cases so as to encourage settlement negotiations where appropriate.
Can I still get medical reports for my case?
As the pandemic continues to progress and evolve, so has its impact on the medical industry. As you may expect, there is currently a slowdown in the turnaround time for reports from some doctors and hospitals. However, many doctors are now conducting medical assessments remotely, which ensures everyone’s safety and that reports can continue to be processed. Of course there are limitations to the assessments which can be done remotely, for example if a doctor needs to test nerves or reflexes, but in many other cases assessments have been able to continue.
Will there be any delays with insurers and other parties?
From what we’ve seen, WorkSafe Victoria, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and most other insurers have transitioned to working digitally successfully and we have not experienced many significant delays in progressing our clients' claims. Settlement conferences and mediations with insurers are continuing as normal, only it’s now done via video conferencing, and payments to our clients are now being made electronically rather than with cheques.
Even though COVID-19 has caused many disruptions to life as we knew it, the legal and compensation industry has rallied around innovations to meet the changes in our new environment. At Slater and Gordon, while the method in which we work may have changed, our mission to help our clients seek their entitlements has not, and in most cases we’ve been able to keep our clients' claims progressing as we all try to work out the new normal.
The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.