The spread of COVID-19 across Canada has forced businesses, private citizens, and even critical public servants to fundamentally change their everyday behaviour. Even the courts, which are essential to the functioning of our society, have severely curtailed operations. The result is a nationwide slowdown in court proceedings that may affect personal injury claims for months.

As every medical malpractice lawyer knows, personal injury claims involving the medical system are complex and time consuming. Often, they rely on the testimony of specialized medical experts, many of whom are now tied up with the battle against the coronavirus. As a result, lawyers fear that medical malpractice plaintiffs may be more acutely affected by the pandemic than other participants in the Canadian justice system.

“I’ve had neurologists, experts in the field of neurology and neuroscience, tell me they can’t devote any time at this point to either speaking with me or to reviewing a new file,” one medical malpractice lawyer told Canadian Lawyer.

There is no way to predict how long COVID-19’s assault on the medical system will last, or how long it will take for the courts to catch up.

“It depends how this thing lingers on in the medical system,” the lawyer continued. “Even once this is back to normal and the courts are open is the medical system still going to be under a huge amount of stress and pressure? I think that remains to be seen whether doctors are going to basically say they’re unavailable for trials next fall.”

If working medical professionals remain unavailable for the foreseeable future, lawyers may have to look elsewhere for expert opinions.

“You know, a retired physician can be just as competent to be your expert, as someone who’s not retired on certain issues,” the lawyer said. “We may have to think a little bit more of using doctors who are retired to a greater extent if we can, if it’s appropriate.”

What’s clear is that the spread of COVID-19 will affect every level of Canadian society. People who contract the virus, their families, and the frontline workers who treat them will bare the brunt of its impact, but the nationwide measures needed to arrest its spread will be felt by all.

Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers will remain operational throughout the COVID-19 lockdown – our team is actively working on existing claims and available to assist new clients. If you or a member of your family have been injured in a medical setting, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

Greg Neinstein