Since about mid-March 2020 Canada has been in an unprecedented lockdown due to COVID-19. We have all, to some degree, been affected. Those of us in the legal profession are no exception to this. Personal injury litigation cases have been impacted, and on a personal level, things at Badre Law Professional Corporation slowed down as well. The office, however, remains open to assist our clients.
How has the legal profession been impacted?
There are a number of ways in which COVID-19 has affected us and the legal profession in general. Most obvious is the cancelation of in-person meetings as well as the suspension of civil trials and motions.
As mentioned, the big change has indeed been the closure of the courts in Ontario, which affects personal injury litigation. The Superior Court of Justice suspended in-person operations effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, and until further notice. There is no official decision as to when the courthouse will open in Ottawa; however, there are talks of a September 2020 opening.
How these changes present challenges for personal injury litigation
This will pose a significant challenge to those who are unable to settle their personal injury litigation case at mediation, prior to setting their matter down for trial. First, it is currently not possible to file a trial record in order to get a pre-trial and trial date. Once the civil counter opens the next challenge will be the scheduling nightmare that comes with balancing new requests for trial dates and rescheduling all the missed pre-trial and trial dates. For those cases that are able to settle at mediation, COVID-19 shouldn’t interrupt the flow of the case as long as you are comfortable with doing examinations for discovery and mediation by Zoom or another similar program.
The absence of in-person meetings and medical assessments
As previously mentioned there are currently no face-to-face meetings with clients; however, our office can be reached by telephone or email or any other type of video conferencing of your preference. There are also no medical assessments taking place until it is safe to no longer physically distance. This may also cause a delay in settling cases because oftentimes a report is needed in order to properly assess and settle a claim.
Transitioning to a digital law practice
In order to assist in the transition to a digital practice of law a number of steps have recently taken place. First, it is now possible to file claims online. This helps us save time and money in going to court, or paying a process server to go to court, to file claims. Additionally, most counsel are now agreeing to conduct examinations for discovery and mediations online. There are also steps being taken to hear pre-trials online in front of a judge.
Strategies our office has adopted
Our office has also adopted a number of different strategies to assist our clients during the pandemic. All our files and documents can be accessed on our server in PDF format. Also, all voicemails can be checked digitally through email whenever a call is missed. This means that even though we are not in the office we can still return your call as soon as possible. We have also registered to use Zoom and Microsoft Go To Meetings in order to meet clients virtually.
If there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us. Stay safe!