I know that the coronavirus has affected many of my clients’ cases both workers’ compensation and others.
Here’s a short summary of how the Coronavirus may affect your case:
- Medical treatment is being limited for all patients. This means that treatment for your work injury has probably been suspended. If you are unsure, call your doctor or provider to see if they are still open. Even if they are open, you will have to make a decision on whether your want to risk exposure by going to the provider’s office. I strongly recommend you stay home if you can. If you feel there is an emergency, call your doctor or provider first. Go to an emergency room or urgent care ONLY if it is ABSOLUTELY necessary. The priority, especially emergency care, is for those with the coronavirus. While your treatment is suspended, continue to follow your doctor’s instructions, including taking your medications and following your restrictions, as much as you can. If you’re doing physical therapy and can do the exercises safely at home, please continue to do the exercises at home. You want to do whatever you can to continue your recovery. However, you always want to be safe and avoid further injury.
- The New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration is still open but most of the staff is working from home. All mediations, hearings, and trials will be done remotely for now. If your case is in litigation, I am committed to doing everything reasonably possible to move your case to resolution as soon as possible as long as it doesn’t put your case at risk. So, for example, for most cases I am recommending against video trials. The trial is your one chance to convince the judge that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The best way to do that is in person, face to face with the judge. If you are interested in a video trial, it’s something we can talk about, but that decision needs to be made carefully..
- All depositions will be done remotely, either by phone or video. In most cases, I will do depositions by phone or video because there is usually no risk to the case. If I feel there is a risk, I will probably wait to do the deposition in person. However, getting depositions done sooner often means resolving cases sooner.
- If your case is brand new or litigation has just started, you can expect a delay in resolving your case. Usually, a workers’ compensation case cannot be resolved until the worker has had substantial medical treatment. With the suspension of medical treatment because of the coronavirus, resolution of most new workers’ compensation cases will be delayed. I will do whatever I can to move the cases to resolution. However, without the required medical evidence it is very difficult to resolve a case fairly.
- The coronavirus may cause delays or interruptions in getting your workers’ compensation money benefits. Many of the workers’ compensation insurers’ employees are working from home causing disruptions to the workers’ compensation system. I know the money benefit is critical to injured workers and their families, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that any interruptions to money benefits are resolved as quickly as possible.
- If you have a case in any of the state or federal district courts, please know that the courts are either closed or doing almost everything remotely. This means that most litigation will be delayed for at least a couple of months.
- The EEOC and the N.M Human Rights Bureau are also working remotely which means that if you have a case at either agency getting a decision will take longer than usual.
I will continue to post updates periodically.
The coronavirus is serious. We all need to do our part to stop it. For most of us that means doing social distancing. So, please stay at home as much as possible. We also need to understand and accept that this will disrupt all of our lives for awhile. However, it will end, and I am confident that as long as we support and respect one another and follow the rules to stop the spread of this terrible virus, we will be okay in the end.