There are few American industries that were unaffected by Covid, and personal injury auto accident trial attorneys like myself were no exception. There were so many questions at first, especially when the lockdown occurred. What will happen to the jury trials I have scheduled? What about my active litigation cases, including scheduled depositions, court hearings, mediations, site inspections, etc.? Now, some 13 months later, I have to admit that apart from having to reschedule some trials, my law firm really didn’t miss a beat and adapted on the fly.
Fortunately, several years ago the State of Florida changed it court filing system to almost entirely online through a court portal. Therefore, filing a lawsuit was no different than before the lockdown, and was done online. Additionally, like with many industries, our firm adapted and I cannot think of a single deposition or court hearing that had to be rescheduled. I think apart from the freeze on jury trials that depositions posed the biggest challenge because in an automobile accident case the defense like to be in the same room with my client during the deposition, which is understandable because it is their one chance to meet and question an injured Plaintiff. In one case, at the height of the pandemic, I had a defense attorney insist on an in-person deposition, which was avoided after I obtained a Court Order mandating that it take place via Zoom. Personally, I have found Zoom and other video teleconferencing sites to work very well.
During the first 8 months of the pandemic I was as busy as I’d ever been, and actually had more time to work because I did not have to drive. A specific concern was mediation settlement conferences, where parties traditionally meet prior to a jury trial in an effort to find a compromise and settle a case rather than having a jury decide the damages. Much to my relief, mediations continued via Zoom and not only were they effective, but many cases settled for far more money than had been offered before the lawsuit was filed.
Another area of concern for me personally was that I have always prided myself that I meet face to face with new clients. As I have said in other articles, this firm does not use an “intake specialist” or paralegal to meet new potential clients. I meet personally with them. How would new clients feel about that meeting taking place via Zoom or phone? As it turned out, all new clients were very understandable and had no concerns with a “virtual” free consultation. If anything, I think it made some new clients feel even more relaxed.
Now, as Americans are receiving a Covid vaccination in large numbers, the questions becomes: What will the future of representing Florida auto accident victims look like? For convenience sake will depositions continue via Zoom? How about mediations? Time will tell, but one thing is certain: the McPherson & Thomas Law Firm will always continue with the personal touch, meet with our clients and learn their story and how the injuries have affected their lives. Our philosophy remains unchanged. If you have suffered injuries from a Florida automobile accident, please do not hesitate to contact us for a Free Consultation, which can occur in our office, via Zoom, FaceTime or phone. We want you to have the option to choose the type of consultation that fits within your comfort zone. On our home page you’ll find you have the ability to schedule your appointment right now!
Scott M. McPherson