Florida’s Miami Courts Delay Reopening Until Late July (And What That Means For Your Personal Injury Case)
The immediate future of the court system is, due to COVID-19, uncertain – just like everything else in Florida in 2020.
While other states like Oregon have eased restrictions and begun holding jury trials again, Florida is seeing a sharp increase in cases which have led most court proceedings to be delayed until late July at the earliest.
Florida courts have remained closed except to essential functions through July 20, and statewide grand jury proceedings will not commence until July 27, but even this is subject to change. An administrative order also delayed the July 31 deadline for reports on testing for remote civil jury trials until October 2.
The pushback in deadlines is due to the declining health situation statewide – on July 12th, Florida recorded over 15,000 new daily cases (the highest daily numbers yet) and on July 16th reported 156 deaths attributed to COVID-19 (the highest daily toll yet). According to some expert health professionals, Miami could now reasonably be considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Our state, and especially South Florida (which is home to over half of the state’s cases), is now the nation’s hotspot for new cases, which is a fact that came as an unhappy surprise to many Floridians.
Many attorneys, judges, and clients are wondering when things will be able to return to “normal”, but it is apparent that courts will likely not resume “normal” operations for a long time – and will probably not even open until July, or August, or September, depending on how the situation unfolds.
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady said that “getting back to jury trials anytime in the foreseeable future, in a way that is going to be at all like we had before this hit us, is probably unrealistic.” He also revealed that plans for the phased reopening that was supposed to start in June and lift the March order suspending jury trials has been changed due to the resurgence of cases.
There is a special COVID-19 work group (like a task force) of the Supreme Court that is making decisions and planning for reopening when it is possible and safe to do so.
Trial courts are continuing to hear absolutely essential matters in person, but anything else that is high priority that can be is being conducted over Zoom or other videoconferencing technologies. The Florida Bar shared that the 11th Circuit completed Florida’s first partially remote jury trial as part of a five-circuit, voluntary pilot program that Canady authorized for civil trials. This trial was non-binding and used Zoom for jury selection and strict health protocols for in-person proceedings to hear an insurance dispute regarding Hurricane Irma in November 2017.
Because the situation is so uncertain, and unusual, many injured victims may be hesitant to seek medical attention during the outbreak following an accident, but it has never been more important to get the help of an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer on your side. Because insurance companies (like nearly everyone else) are experiencing financial challenges in the form of narrowed profit margins, they are more likely to scrunitize any insurance claim and attempt to minimize their liability in order to avoid paying higher settlements in injured plaintiffs. Crises like COVID-19 often lead to a surge in fraudulent claim, so you need to build a strong case for compensation. A local auto accident lawyer can help you strengthen your claim, understand all of your legal options, and discover the true value of your case.
The Florida Law Group has over 100 years of combined experience litigating personal injury cases in Florida. We have office locations in the Greater Tampa Bay Area, Orlando, and Miami, and are offering virtual consultations to keep our clients safe. While no lawyer has faced this before, we are nationally recognized as being in the top 1% of law firms for our ability to recover sizable settlements for injury accident victims; we are confident in our ability, even now, to advocate for you against intimidating insurance companies and fight for justice.
You deserve to be compensated for injuries that occurred as a result of someone else’s negligence, even during a pandemic. Do not let the current uncertain circumstances keep you from pursuing the financial restitution that can help you heal fully! Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.