Many factors affect a personal injury case. COVID-19 is another example that shows that no case is ever a guaranteed victory. The Coronavirus is one factor that is having a big effect on many personal injury claims and settlements. Here, you will see which accident cases the Coronavirus is affecting the most.
You’ll also learn how to fight back so that your case is not wiped out. I decided to write an article about this after someone asked a question in the comments section of one of my Youtube videos.
As you can see, I gave a short response. Here, I thoroughly talk about the impact of the Coronavirus on accident cases.
Thus far, COVID-19 is likley affecting passenger and crew injury cases against the cruise lines the most. And this isn’t surprising. Just look at the image below to see how much Carnival’s (the world’s largest cruise line) stock price has dropped due to COVID-19. NCL and Royal Caribbean have also experienced big declines in how their stock price.
According to marine litigators Jack Pierce and David McMahon, large commercial ship owners like Carnival usually ask their brokers to negotiate insurance coverage with a high level of SIR. (An SIR is a Self Insured Retention).
According to Pierce and McMahon, the SIR is typically in the multi-million dollar range. This means that cruise lines, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL pay most injury claims out of their own pocket.
This normally isn’t an issue. I say this because the full value of most personal injury cases is way under a multi-million dollars. In fact, most cruise passenger injury settlements are likely under $20,000.
But with cruise lines not sailing (due to the Coronavirus), they are not taking in money. And their company values are getting hammered. One long time financial writer/contributor, Allen Farley, says that time is already running out before the cruise lines are forced to declare bankruptcy.
If the cruise lines declare bankruptcy, injury cases against them will be worth pennies on the dollar. This is often true in any case against a business that isn’t protected by Florida Insurance Guarantee Act (FIGA).
The cruise lines have already asked judges to pause the lawsuits against them. Many judges have granted extensions on the time deadlines that apply to discovery in passenger and crew injury lawsuits against the cruise lines.
Yes. COVID-19 has hit hotels hard financially. One Florida county has prevented tourists from staying at hotels to help stop the coronavirus spread.
The hotel accident cases that will be most affected are those that are managed by the 4 big hotel chains in the United States. Let’s take Marriot, for example. They are one of the big 4 hotel chains in the United States. Some Marriott hotels have insurance that does not have a self-insured retention.
Here is an example from one of my cases:
I settled a case against for $197,500 for a guest who slipped and fell at a Courtyard Marriott in Florida. In that case, a franchisee owned the Marriott hotel. (The franchisee owned several other hotels). Travelers insured the hotel.
The hotel franchisee had (dollar one) insurance with Travelers. In other words, the hotel owner did not have to pay any money towards the settlement. As you’ll see below, a claim like that may not be affected by COVID-19 as much as a claim with Marriott Claims Services.
On the other hand, I settled a personal injury case with the Marriott Claims Services for $60,000. However, here, Marriott’s claims department handled the case. In other words, the hotel’s insurance did not come into play.
As you can see from the image of its stock price below, Marriott has taken a financial beating. As you likely know, the Marriott is not an insurance company. Thus, guests who have injury claims that are being handled by the Marriott Claims Services may see smaller offers. This is because the Marriott will be paying claims with its own money.
More hotels are facing foreclosure and bankruptcy. If the Marriott files for bankruptcy, claims with Marriott Claims department could be worth pennies on the dollar. This is the worst case scenario.
Attorney’s fees is one factor that injury victims consider when deciding whether to hire a lawyer. Now is not the time to try “save” money by not hiring an attorney for your injury claim. You should contact a hotel accident lawyer who is located in the state where you were injured.
Yes, for certain types of cases. Claims against the cruise lines and large self-insured restaurants, hotels and malls will likely see the longest delay. Settlements against those companies will likely be smaller than usual.
Even without the spread of COVID-19, it takes time to get a settlement. However, the Coronavirus will add additional delay to certain accident cases. I mentioned some of those claims above.
I expect to see this. When insurance companies make less money, they often offer less. In other words, they are willing to pay less for your pain and suffering. And COVID-19 has already had a big negative impact on the value of insurance companies.
Some insurance companies have not lost as much as others. If you look at the image below, you’ll see that Progressive has not taken a major financial hit from the Coronavirus. When looking at the past 5 years, Progressive’s stock is still up (big time).
But don’t get too excited.
Progressive is one of the worst car insurance companies. Thus, Progressive’s offers should be the same. Which is, pretty bad. You still may have to sue Progressive (or its insured) to get fair value for your injury case.
Progressive insures Uber in many states (like Florida). Thus, Uber accident cases should not be affected much by COVID-19.
Car accident claims with State Farm and some others should not be as affected that much by COVID-19.
However, companies like Allstate have taken a hit. Fitch Ratings downgraded its outlook for Allstate from positive to stable. Thus, Allstate settlement offers may be smaller.
If you’re a pedestrian who is hit by a car, COVID-19 likely won’t have as big of an effect on your case as if you were a cruise passenger who has a injury case. That said, if you are badly injured in a car accident, should speak with a lawyer.
Yes, for those claims against large self-insured mall owners. Those include, but are not limited to, claims against Simon Properties Group. Simon is back to being worth what is was in 2009. They’ve been crushed by COVID-19.
On the other hand, personal injury claims against smaller companies that own malls should not be as badly affected. This is because smaller companies that own malls likely have business liability insurance without a SIR retention. Thus, these malls have insurance to pay the entire accident claim.
Sure, companies that insure malls (like Markel) have been financially hit by the coronavirus. But nowhere near the level of large self insured companies. Thus, I’d much prefer to have a claim where Markel Insurance insures a mall than a case against a mall that Simon owns.
Yes. Judges are allowing mediation to take place over the phone. Mediation is a process for resolving disputes by which an independent mediator assists the parties in reaching a settlement. In most cases, mediation only takes after the injured person sues.
Normally, the parties need to physically present. But due to the Coronavirus, Florida judges are allowing parties to mediate over the phone or on Zoom.
This is particularly good for people who are injured in another state while they were visiting it. For example, people who live in another state but are injured in a Florida car accident can now attend mediation via Zoom or the phone.
It is also good for international visitors who are injured while visiting Florida.
Self-insured restaurants will likely make lowball offers. I’m talking about self-insured restaurants like the Cheesecake factory. United States and Canada are Company-owned and operated. The Cheesecake Factory does not franchise or joint venture in the United States.
One of the worst companies to have a personal injury claim against right now is the Cheesecake Factory. They’ve already told their landlords that they won’t be paying rent for the month of April 2020.
That’s said, many other big restaurant chains have franchisees. Most franchisees have business liability insurance policies. Thus, claims against most franchisees will be similar to before COVID-19.
Let’s take a personal injury claim against Denny’s or Wendy’s. They both have franchisees. Therefore, the settlement value of accident claims against them may be similar to before the Coronavirus struck. Again, this is because most franchisees have liability insurance.
As a result of the Coronavirus, Lyft accident claims may be affected more than Uber accident claims. Lyft has insurance with different companies in the United States. In Florida, Greenwich Insurance Company insures Lyft. AXA XL owns Greenwich.
As you can see from the image below, AXA XL has taken much more of a financial beating by COVID-19 than Uber’s insurance company (Progressive in most states).
It gets worse:
Starting March 30, 2020 (in Florida), Lyft dropped its uninsured motorist coverage. This will greatly affect many Lyft drivers and passengers in Florida for accidents beginning March 30, 2020.
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I’ve been handling cases for 16 years. I was in practice when the Great Recession hit. And, even during that time (and beyond), I have had many big personal injury settlements. The best time to get an attorney is still right after your accident.