The impact of Covid on personal injury damages
The Covid-19 pandemic has been such leading to loss of life and livelihoods amongst others. The world as we knew 18 months ago is very different to the world we now know.
We have all had to adapt to the way we live, think, and work.
It is therefore of no surprise in these unprecedented times, those involved in the litigation process have found the progress of their claims affected in some form or another with delays in medical appointments and court hearings to name but a few. This is despite best efforts on the part of all concerned with virtual medical consultations becoming the norm where appropriate and remote hearings. Most have adopted the attitude “the show must go on” and it has for the vast majority, but some claimants will feel doubly hard done by following life-changing injuries.
As I, and no doubt most practitioners across the land, will now have frequently encountered, the insurance industry is throwing the impact of Covid-19 in the mix when defending or dealing with a claim and to challenge heads of claim including claimants’ loss of earnings. I recently settled a personal injury compensation claim for a client who sustained multiple and life-changing injuries in a road traffic accident pre-Covid. His activities of daily living, including the ability to work, have been compromised. Whilst expert evidence supported time off work as being reasonable, his industry, the taxi industry, which is perhaps one of the worst hit industries, meant that there have been challenges in whether he could have earned a living during the pandemic absent the accident and whether he could have earned a living at his pre-accident level for some time in the future as a consequence. My client was a hard-working person and evidence which supported a salary to reflect that was accepted by the insurers. Whilst my client’s claim settled for hundreds of thousands of pounds, he felt aggrieved, like a lot of claimants, that insurers are throwing Covid-19 into the mix of their usual arguments. He was resourceful and felt that “but for” the accident, he may have been able to find suitable alternative employment to make a living at the same level and provide for his family. He nevertheless accepted the sad reality of the situation that the Covid-19 argument was one that put his loss of earnings claim at risk. Sensibly, my client took the decision to bring a painful and stressful process to a conclusion.
My client was very reasonable in his approach and appreciated the challenges. Overall, he was happy to see an end to his claim which not only affected him but his family emotionally, psychologically and financially, as is often the case. He did nevertheless feel a sense of unfairness that insurers may get away with paying less due to the current situation.
There can be no doubt that the full impact of the pandemic cannot measured for a long time, if at all. What is clear is however, is that the Covid-19 challenge will be raised in almost all cases where possible.
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