Q: I have a current personal injury case with your firm. How will the shutdown affect my case?
A: At this time in Pennsylvania, local county courthouses, including the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, are closed to the public, as per a March 16th Order from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Under that order, time deadlines, such as those dictating the filing of certain motions and pleadings, are suspended. This protects those injured victims who have cases pending in court. Currently, business is proceeding as usual at Marzzacco Niven & Associates, as our lawyers, paralegals and other support staff continue to work remotely each day, utilizing state of the art technology and communication to fully represent our clients. Moreover, pursuant to a clarification ruling from the Administrative Offices of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) and Dauphin County President Judge John F. Cherry, issued on March 20th, our lawyers and staff are permitted to access our office and files for limited purposes since we have instituted numerous social distancing precautions.
Q: My loved one was hurt in a crash. Is your law firm able to accept new clients during the shutdown?
A: Yes. We continue to have clients turn to us to help them when injured by others. Unfortunately, people still suffer injuries from car crashes, falls and from other incidents caused by others during the state-wide shutdown for COVID 19. I represent people all over Pennsylvania so I have always had the ability to consult with folks without in-person meetings. With a full staff working every day from home and all the leading communications technology available to us, we are capable of-and have been accepting many new clients over the last few weeks.
Q: Will the insurance companies involved in my case be able to deny paying me during the shutdown?
A: No. We are in constant communication with the insurance companies that are responsible for providing medical and income-loss payments (called “no-fault” or “PIP”), and we have not experienced any instances of denials due to the COVID 19 situation. Your automobile insurer has a duty to treat you fairly, which includes paying for the medical bills you incur in a motor vehicle crash. Similarly, if you have been injured in a fall or work incident, your health insurer or your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier has a duty to pay for your treatment. Again, in our experience, these providers have not refused to pay for any treatment. With the Federal Government working on a financial package to sustain businesses and sustain our economy, it appears that insurance companies-the majority of which are financially sound and will not rely on any government financial incentives anyway, your claims should continue to get paid.
Q: Does my lawyer have access to the Courthouse to file documents in my case?
A: As indicated, courthouses are physically closed, except for some emergency matters. However, court proceedings such as case management conferences continue via telephone and other remote means. With the capability to file documents, motions and pleadings electronically, Marzzacco Niven & Associates can access your court file or docket and keep your case moving.
Q: Does my lawyer have to stop working on my case during the shutdown?
A: No. As indicated, we continue to work on your case with the same frequency and attention as we did prior to the Governor’s shutdown of legal services business due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Our personal injury department has total access to your case file each day via remote computer access, we are answering all phone calls, have a limited staff physically opening mail and distributing it electronically each day to each lawyer and paralegal in the firm, and have all the other resources needed to keep your case moving during this temporary situation.
Q: Will I incur increased costs or legal fees in my case because of the shutdown?
A: No. We honor the Contingent Fee Agreement you signed with us initially and will not impose any other fee or cost during our representation of you. Although these are difficult times, Marzzacco Niven & Associates is financially strong and has more than sufficient resources to continue advancing all the costs necessary to fully prosecute your injury claim. Remember, if we do not win your case, you never pay a fee or costs!
Q: If I need to see my medical providers for my personal injuries will I be able to get treatment during the shutdown?
A: At this time, the Governor has allowed “life-sustaining” business to remain open. Hospitals, urgent care centers, physical therapy and other specialty medical offices and facilities remain open. However, with the growing number of Coronavirus cases, it is anticipated that our hospitals and other health care providers will need to treat those patients, and in the meantime, curtail their daily procedures to comply with the Governor’s Order. Non-elective and “routine” medical procedures may be postponed. However, this will not negatively affect your case once the COVID 19 shutdown ends.