IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS ON 
YOUR LEGAL CASE

Public health precautions relating to coronavirus and the illness itself have affected courts which are crucial public places. Federal and state courts as well as administrative agencies have been affected. As of now, public access has been severely restricted. Many legal proceedings have been suspended or will be handled quite differently for the foreseeable future. Some emergency matters will continue to be handled by courts in the usual fashion, though with extreme precautions limiting contact.

The following is information about how your personal injury or workers compensation matter may be handled at present.

If you have a workers' compensation claim:

and your matter is not in litigation
, our lawyers and staff continue to request medical records, work with the adjusters, negotiate settlements and solve problems of all kinds, such as access to medical treatment, late checks and the like. Adjusters and many defense lawyers are working remotely, but they are accessible by telephone and email. We remain in regular contact to handle claims for our clients. In addition, PSRB has the capacity to use (and in some cases is currently utilizing) secure technology for computer and telephonic legal practice.

or if your workers compensation matter is in litigation, the Department of Industrial Accidents has modified procedures:

  • Any conciliation on an employee’s claim or an insurer’s request to modify or discontinue benefits will be done by telephone. Just as now, the employee’s attendance is not required. Lawyers for the parties will communicate by telephone with the conciliator; the conciliator will help the parties to resolve the claim or move the matter forward to and Administrative Judge.
  • Any proceeding (which we sometimes call conference) on an employee’s claim or an insurer’s request to modify or discontinue benefits will be done by video conference or telephone. Lawyers for the parties will present their evidence and arguments to an administrative judge, but from remote locations through a video conference or telephone conference system. This will be a live proceeding. Medical and other evidence will be uploaded to the Department of Industrial Accidents in the usual manner. For now, a proceeding will not require the presence of an employee or insurer representative.
  • Any hearing scheduled between March 17, 2020 and present is suspended and will be rescheduled to a new date. All other hearings are suspended and will be scheduled in the future.
  • Any lump sum settlement conference may not be done in person. However, a lump sum presentation may be done by affidavit, which means that the employee may execute a document in lieu of a. In person before and Administrative Judge to request approval of a lump sum settlement.
  • Any vocational rehabilitation mandatory meeting will be done between the Department’s representative and the employee by telephone.

If you have a personal injury case such a motor vehicle accident claim, slip and fall matter, or any of a variety of general tort concerns, 

and your matter is not in litigation
, our lawyers and staff continue to request medical records and bills, collect evidence of lost wages, perform investigations and obtain witness information and develop expert and other proof of liability, when necessary. We will continue to  work with the adjusters to coordinate benefits and negotiate settlements. Adjusters and many defense lawyers are working remotely, but they are accessible by telephone and email. We remain in regular contact to handle claims for our clients. In addition, PSRB has the capacity to use (and in some cases is currently utilizing) secure technology for computer and telephonic legal practice.

and your case is already a lawsuit and is pending in Federal or State court, significant procedural restrictions are in place:

  • public access to the Courts is extremely limited.
  • some scheduling proceedings, such as case management conferences and pretrial conferences are being handled by telephone. (In civil cases, these proceedings typically only involve lawyers.)
  • All jury trials, in both criminal and civil cases, scheduled to commence in Massachusetts state courts between March 13, 2020, and July 1, 2020, are continued to a date no earlier than October 23, 2020, on a limited basis. All bench trials, in both criminal and civil cases, scheduled to commence in Massachusetts state courts between March 13, 2020, and June 1, 2020, are currently being heard with consent from all parties
    Effective immediately, May 29, 2020, all jury trials in the District of Massachusetts scheduled to begin on or before September 8, 2020, are continued pending further order of the Court. The Court may issue other orders concerning future continuances as necessary and appropriate.
  • it is likely that depositions will be rescheduled or continued, in light of public health precautions.

If you have a Social Security case awaiting hearing, you should be aware, that all SSA hearing offices are closed to the public.

  • If you have a hearing already scheduled with one of the SSA offices, hearing office staff may be reaching out to offer a telephone hearing. Social Security Administration staff will be triaging cases to ensure that those which are designated as critical are addressed first.  They will then handle the remaining scheduled hearings.
  • If you decline a telephone hearing, your case will be postponed and rescheduled as timely as possible.
  • All other claims will be processed in the usual fashion, it appears. Most of that work is now being done electronically.