We at Schreuders have continued to seamlessly progress claims throughout the uncertainty of COVID-19. We have adapted quickly to the changing times to ensure the safety of our clients and team. With the ability to work from home or the office without interruption or compromise, we are able to get you the results you deserve as quickly as possible.
We believe that each matter and individual is unique. All of our solicitors offer video calls wherever possible so that you have an opportunity to meet your solicitor personally. We have ensured our conferencing software is easy to use and are always able to troubleshoot with you if there are any technical issues.
If you need to get a physical document to us quickly, you can scan or take photographs of the documents to send by email. If this is not an option however, then we are able to accept documents by post. We will ensure that your documents reach the appropriate person as quickly as possible.
During such difficult times, we understand our client’s needs and concerns, with traveling due to the COVID-19 Public Health Orders and we provide all our clients with the option to have meetings through, video-link, emails, telephone, Zoom meetings, and other means of electronic communication so as to avoid and eliminate any delay or concerns that client’s may feel during the course of their case with Schreuders. We provide all our clients with the best option that suits their needs and what they feel comfortable with, when communicating their instructions or questions to our legal team.
In many areas of the personal injury sector such as those suffering from worker’s compensation or motor vehicle accidents, the medico-legal groups or Commission are taking steps to minimise the disruption to the dispute resolution process caused by the COVID-19 Public Health Orders and ongoing lockdowns across NSW and other states. In order to reduce such delays they are identifying medical assessments that can be undertaken on the papers or with a combination of on the papers and video assessment and also acknowledging the vaccination status of clients requiring in-person examinations. This has been the approach of many medical-legal doctors and Medical Assessors in recent times for such medical appointments.
Also, for medico-legal appointments that have been booked for new or existing clients, where they must attend as organised by their solicitors and our firm, the same approach of video assessment or a review of the medical documents, has been taken by these doctors to ensure there are no delays in the medical assessment of our clients.
Medical panel appointments are still ongoing. A pre-appointment telephone screening will be done to confirm whether it is safe and necessary for an in-person assessment to occur, and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. To minimise the risk to clients and practitioners, most assessments will occur by telephone or video chat.
Mediations and settlement conferences are continuing as planned, without interruption. If any changes are to be made for a mediation date or settlement conference, your Solicitor will be in touch directly with those details.
We understand that certain documents will need to be signed during the course of your claim, and we at Schreuders offer our clients the choice to have their documents signed through scanning and sending via email, also specific software such as Pandadoc who we use for online signing of documents, this streamlines the process through a professional, timely, and engaging experience.
Also, should you not prefer this manner of Electronic signing, we also can express post documents and enclose a pre-paid envelope for you to sign in the comfort of your home and to return to us via express post. We give all our clients the option of their preferred manner they wish to return and complete documents to our office.
In response to the ever-evolving global COVID-19 pandemic, the legal industry has had to adapt to ensure matters are still being attended to in accordance with timetables and already set court dates, this includes important court hearings which often provide a resolution to a client’s case. With thanks to advancements in technology, courts across Australia have been able to implement various contact tracing systems and facilitate court hearings via video link where possible. It is important to know beforehand whether your upcoming court hearing, depending on the jurisdiction, will be via video link or still require attendance at the relevant court. If you are unsure about any process of your upcoming Court Hearing, please contact your Solicitor at Schreuders and we’ll be more than happy to assist.
Further to the above response regarding court hearings, the NSW Supreme and District Courts have released public factsheets announcing any changes to court processes. For example, the Supreme Court of NSW has introduced the Virtual Courtroom which allows a physical court setting to be conducted virtually to avoid participants needing to attend court in person. This has been particularly helpful given the extensive lockdown across greater Sydney in 2021. The courts have put a lot of time and effort into ensuring the Virtual Courtroom and other video link systems work to a high standard to ensure all matters are heard properly and thoroughly, even if they have to proceed virtually and not in person. You can expect all court matters are still given the same attention as pre-covid times.
As the public health orders have made travel restrictions in place for all parties in NSW and some states, we will ensure to contact insurers and other related groups, all through electronic means such as emails, telephone, and video conferences, which allows cases to still be handled and managed by your solicitor without any disruption to your matter, and this has been a standard practice even before the COVID-19 Public Health Orders were introduced, where parties have always communicated through many electronic means to streamline and progress all cases.
One of the most important factors of the legal industry is that it relies heavily on time frames, meeting deadlines and adhering to strict time limits to ensure client’s entitlements are protected and explored when necessary. COVID-19 presented all industries with the challenge of quickly adapting to suit unprecedented times and goes without saying that the legal industry was also heavily impacted by these unprecedented adversities.
For example, the lockdown in 2020 put a sudden halt to in person medical examinations which subsequently delayed every client’s matter where a medical examination or assessment was required for potential settlement or finalisation of a claim. It saw organisations like the Workers Compensation Commission (now known as the Personal Injury Commission) suffer a severe backlog of matters which could not proceed without a medical examination. All clients have the right to their cases being heard in a timely manner and so the legal industry adapted to the ever-changing government directions during the pandemic to minimise the inevitable impact on a client’s case.
On a positive note, the legal industry has also accepted that COVID-19 is one such extenuating circumstance and time limits can be increased or worked around if the client has a reasonable excuse for causing a delay or not adhering to a deadline.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your claim, our team is able to provide you with full and complete legal advice and assistance over the phone, email, or by video chat. We are here to help.
Legislation dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic was enacted across Australia and can be found online for your review. The main purpose of these Acts across Australia is to protect the health, safety and welfare of Australians who may be affected by the COVID-19 emergency and to ensure all industries continue to operate during and after the COVID-19 emergency by facilitating procedures and assistance throughout this pandemic. However, often legislation can be full of legal jargon and hard to understand so you should contact your Solicitor at Schreuders Lawyers if you have any queries regarding the same and how it may affect your claim or case and we’ll be happy to assist you.