The effects of COVID-19 have been truly stunning in terms of the effects of people remaining in their homes. Pollution levels have been lowered and roads are safer than usual. The fact that drivers are complying with stay-at-home orders issued by the CDC has drastically lowered the number of traffic accidents.
In fact, one of the major beneficiaries of this is the auto insurance companies who clearly have to pay out fewer claims than usual. In fact, they are taking the unheard-of step of giving drivers back some of their premiums.
The fact that many people are no longer commuting to work due to the Covid-19-outbreak has had many different impacts on road safety. Of course, the obvious effect is that the number of car accidents has fallen. Fewer drivers on the road mean drivers further apart and fewer opportunities for car crashes involving injury and fatal accidents.
However, this can also mean that the severity of a motor vehicle accident may be worse. Without drivers on the road, motorists may be emboldened to drive faster and more recklessly. There may also be fewer speed traps since the police are busy elsewhere.
This can result in a higher likelihood of crash-related injuries the other driver may be driving in an egregiously unsafe manner. Generally, the higher the speed, the more serious the accident injuries are. With empty roads, there are fewer things keeping drivers from speeding behind the wheel.
Statistics are showing that even though there are fewer crashes, the number of auto accident fatalities is actually on the rise. Even if fatalities are declining in some jurisdictions, the drop in the fatality rate is lower than the percentage decrease in car accidents.
Because road usage has fallen so dramatically, auto insurers are actually giving money back to drivers. GEICO has informed customers that it is unilaterally cutting the prices on policy renewals by 15 percent for the immediate future.
Farmers and State Farm are giving drivers, even more, dropping their rates by 25 percent. The companies are also giving drivers rebates for their policies that are in effect by calculating the amount of driving that they are currently doing as opposed to the one on which the policy is based.
Auto insurance companies are even reported to be working with customers who cannot pay their premiums. They have been accepting reduced premium payments and some have been giving customers a longer time to pay.
While this is a welcome relief for all drivers who get to save money, there is still an incentive for the insurance companies. In other words, insurers are not doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts. California is actually requiring insurance companies to give money back to customers. At the time of this writing, they are the only state with this requirement.
These insurers are one of the few industries that are making inflated profits during the coronavirus outbreak. They run the risk of drivers who are financially strapped cancelling their insurance.
Some people who may have lost their job and are not leaving their home for the near future may decide that they can save money by cancelling car insurance temporarily even though it is a legal requirement. By giving a discount, the insurers are persuading their customers to keep insurance for now and not take the risk of cancelling it.
For full-price insurance companies like Allstate and State Farm, they do not want you to downgrade your car insurance to a cut-rate provider. If they lose you as a customer right now, there is a strong chance that you will stick with the lower price insurer even after the economy turns around.
Similarly, insurers also do not want you to reduce your coverage to the policy minimums. This is also not something that you may raise back to higher coverage levels after the crisis recedes.
One possible effect of COVID-19 on car accident lawsuits is that insurance companies may temporarily be more willing to settle claims on fair terms. Insurance company profits are sky-high right now because they are paying out so little because there are much fewer car accidents.
Even with the discounts that insurance companies are giving, they are still taking in much more than they are paying out and they are flush with cash. Thus, they may temporarily be a little more generous in settlement offers. This is even more of a reason to hire a personal injury lawyer to negotiate the best possible settlement for you if you have previously filed a claim or if you have just had a car accident.
In other words, if you suffered an injury in a car accident before the COVID-19 crisis began but still have not filed your claim, now is the time to do so. Car insurance companies have never been making more money than they are now. At the same time, they will be fighting to retain the customers that they have given the extreme dislocation in the economy will mean to job loss and customers who cannot pay their premiums.
Since we are taking the time to give information about coronavirus and car accidents, we should tell you the following. When it comes to COVID-19's impact on a car accident lawsuit, do not count on it giving you more time to file a lawsuit.
While the courthouses may be closed to in-person things such as trial and hearings, the coronavirus does not give you more time to file a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations still apply, and the mere fact that COVID-19 has closed the physical courthouse does not mean that the court is not working.
They are still processing complaints and filing and judges are still working so you should not let coronavirus delay you from filing your lawsuit.
At the same time, we must also remind you of different risks that may be present when driving right now.
First, because grocery store shelves are constantly being picked clean, there will be higher truck traffic on the road right now as distributors are shipping products to the stores that are continuously running out of goods.
Second, even though there are fewer cars on the road, you never know if the car that you are in an accident with is driven by an uninsured driver. The economic devastation has led many to cancel insurance even if it is a legal necessity.
Thus, you may be relying on your own uninsured motorist coverage to pay for your injuries. You should even consider underinsured driver protection to cover injuries in excess of the other driver's policy limit since many drivers may be cutting the amount of car insurance that they carry.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, we are still on the job and here to help you. We are still working every bit as hard on behalf of our clients as we were before COVID-19. If you have been injured in a car crash, call us today to find out how we can help you.