Cook County Court Operations And The Coronavirus
Starting in March 2020, which seems like a lifetime ago, the COVID-19 pandemic upended everyone’s life and delayed the best-laid plans. The court system was not immune to this upheaval.
For the better part of the last 19 months, pending cases, including personal injury lawsuits, came to a grinding halt. While judges could address some pre-trial matters remotely, a jury trial was impossible while courtrooms remained closed. Frustrating as this was for injury victims who could not move their case to a verdict, it was a cause for celebration among insurance companies who were more than happy to see claims put on ice.
But time is now up for those insurers, at least for personal injury claims in Cook County. On September 9, 2021, Presiding Judge James P. Flannery, Jr. issued an administrative order that allowed matters to be set for trial – and for trials to actually proceed – beginning September 20, 2021.
Why The Restart Of Cook County Jury Trials Matters and Why Insurers Are Unhappy
After a car accident and many other types of injury-causing incidents, it is the defendant’s insurance company that defends any personal injury lawsuit against their insured, and it is the insurance company that will likely pay any settlement or judgment for compensation.
Needless to say, car insurance companies and other casualty insurers don’t like paying claims. Despite claiming to be a “good neighbor” that is “on your side,” insurers know that every dollar they pay to an injury victim is a dollar less in profits. And make no mistake, insurance companies are in the business of making money.
As such, they will try to nickel and dime injury victims from the first moment they receive a claim. They will try to bully and pressure injury victims into settling quickly and on the cheap so they can close the books on a claim for far less than the victim deserves. They may also deny any liability whatsoever and refuse to pay a dime.
That is why filing a personal injury lawsuit is often the only way to get an insurer to come to the table and step up with a reasonable settlement offer. About 95 percent of all personal injury cases settle before trial.
But an insurer will only settle a case and pay significant compensation to an injury victim if it believes there is a risk of getting hit with an even more substantial verdict after a trial. Juries and judges are unpredictable, and the attorney’s fees and other costs involved in taking a case to trial can be enormous.
But take away the risks and costs involved in a trial, and an insurer has little motivation to settle a case. After all, what’s the rush when the courthouse is closed indefinitely and no trials loom on the horizon?
Sadly, that is the scenario that personal injury plaintiffs have faced for over a year and a half. But no more. With jury trials resuming in Cook County, and other counties likely to follow suit, personal injury victims may now be able to get the long-delayed compensation and justice they deserve. Insurers now must once again face the possibility of a jury hitting them with a significant verdict in the near future. This means they can no longer drag their heels on cases and are more likely to come up with settlement offers that are reflective of the injuries and damages incurred by injury victims.
Contact Our Cook County Personal Injury Lawyer
If the pandemic or the closure of courthouses kept you from pursuing a personal injury claim, the time to act is now. The pandemic may have put trials on hold, but it did not change the deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or reckless conduct, please call personal injury lawyer, Kirk Moyer, today at (847) 244-3444 to arrange for your FREE initial consultation.