The following article is a general update for individuals with pending claims or civil court cases regarding a personal injury. It is not intended as specific advice for your case, which may have special circumstances that apply.
If you are a current client of Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C., or you wish to speak with an attorney regarding an injury claim, call us at 770.822.0900 or use our online contact form.
Georgia Supreme Court Announces Emergency Order, Delaying Trials and Extending Filing Deadlines
The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is causing major disruptions throughout the country.
To slow the spread, many businesses and public entities have had to amend, reduce, or cease operations. This encompasses adjustments like:
- Closing facilities to the public or limiting access
- Postponing in-person activities that require more than 10 people to gather, including jury trials
- Moving activities to digital venues, such as filing court documents online, holding hearings through video conferencing software
- Delaying deadlines for necessary filings and other activities
In response to these guidelines, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton issued an order declaring a statewide emergency on March 14, 2020.
The order officially extends any filing deadline until 11:59 p.m., May 13, 2020. This date may be extended further depending on how the situation evolves.
Upon the conclusion of the deadline, attorneys will have the same amount of remaining time to file as they did before the order took effect. For instance, if an attorney had an April 30, 2020 deadline at the time the order went out, then they will now have until June 29, 2020 to submit the required paperwork.
Statewide circuit and local courts have followed suit, closing facilities except for “essential activities” and postponing key trial and case dates.
What does this mean for your case? It varies on a case-by-case basis. Most likely, it means that if your case has advanced to litigation (a civil complaint or lawsuit) your case timeline is being delayed by at least 60 days.
Duluth Area Court Information
You can review the status of the current Duluth court system your case was assigned to below:
- Gwinnett County Courts – Public offices closed until at least April 13, likely later, excepting those entering in a criminal complaint or a plea in-person. Social distance-compliant services are being offered via web-hosted technologies. Civil documents can be filed online 24/7.
- Forsyth County Courts – Offices are opened on a limited basis from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Trials involving civil cases have been suspended through April 28. Online filing available. Temporary free access to the Cooperative Authority search site provided.
- Fulton County Courts – All hearings and jury trials suspended until further notice. No public facility closures announced to date, but services operating in a limited capacity.
- Duluth City Administration – Public offices closed until further notice.
- Duluth Magistrate Court – All municipal court cases suspended until at least April 13, likely later. Any pending hearings and trials suspended on a case-by-case basis, for which you should receive notice.
What You Can Expect for Your Ongoing Case
Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. is continuing to work on your case during this time. While we have been granted extensions on key filing dates, we intend to file each necessary document or request as soon as we can in order to expedite your case as much as possible.
These efforts are in accordance with the guidance issued to our various public administrators working in the court system:
“With regard to matters not deemed essential functions under the Statewide Judicial Emergency Order, courts and litigants are encouraged to proceed to the extent feasible and consistent with public health guidance, for example through the use of teleconferences and videoconferences, to reduce backlogs when the judicial emergency ends.”
However, certain case activities may be delayed. This is especially true if your case requires a hearing, has mediation scheduled, or was proceeding to a jury trial.
Furthermore, just because we are continuing to file necessary documents expeditiously does not mean that other parties will. Many may opt to wait until the actual deadline before submitting their necessary documentation. Simply put, many individuals are overwhelmed at this time. This can just as easily apply to an insurance company as it can to a defendant or their representing attorney.
Therefore, your case may be put on a partial hold while we wait on filings necessary to proceed.
That does not mean that we will simply be waiting. We can still conduct investigations, petition interrogatories, send correspondence, and otherwise perform activities to sustain and advance your case.
There is also the chance that your case can be resolved through an amicable settlement agreement. Some parties may be encouraged to settle to free up their resources to focus on other matters related to the ongoing pandemic.
Insurance Claims Still Going Through with Minimal Delays
If your case is being conducted purely through the insurance claims process, then you can expect minimal delays. Insurers are working to prevent a backlog and address new claims as they come. They have been granted partial relief from certain regulatory obligations in order to keep up with their ongoing workload.
We recently posted a blog about what to expect with insurance claims and how to handle your claim being delayed during COVID-19. You can refer to it for more information and guidance.
Let Us Answer Your Questions and Provide Assistance
Because of ongoing complications related to COVID-19 spread and management, you may be anxious to hear updates or pivot to a new case strategy. We are here and available for you to provide any service or information we can.
You can reach out to your case’s attorney via her or his contact information, by calling our main office number at 770.822.0900, or by using our online contact form.
If you have recently been injured and need legal assistance, we are still available to answer your questions and take on new clients. Call 770.822.0900 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Duluth.
We hope everyone out there is being safe, keeping an eye on those who are most vulnerable in their community, and doing everything they can to get through this crisis. We hope to see you – either in-person or on-camera – very soon. Until then, be safe, and be well!