The Impacts Of COVID-19 On The Personal Injury Law Firm Landscape
Author(s): Darcy R. Merkur
April 27, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has had far reaching impacts on virtually all areas of life. All businesses, including Personal Injury law firms and rehabilitation companies, are working feverishly to adapt to this new normal.
In the last decade, there has been a huge surge in the number of lawyers and law firms focusing on personal injury law. We have also seen a major escalation in the extent of mass marketing by many new personal injury law firms.
The COVID-19 emergency lockdown has essentially eliminated travel for work and pleasure along with most if not all outdoor activities. As a result, there are dwindling numbers of persons suffering injuries that warrant the involvement of a personal injury lawyer. In addition, ongoing personal injury cases have been slowed as a result of the closure of most Court activities and of most disputes with the Licence Appeal Tribunal.
Despite efforts by personal Injury lawyers to advance cases by video conference through Examinations for Discovery and Mediations during this lockdown, the Court related litigation delays will negatively impact accident victims since the key to securing a fair resolution of a personal injury claim is a looming trial and/or hearing date.
In other words, for a Plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer to secure a fair result for their client, they need the responsible insurance company to know that justice is around the corner by way of an imminent trial or hearing that could result in the insurer being ordered to pay appropriate compensation. With trials being postponed seriously injured claimants will have to go longer than ever without access to necessary funding for treatment and will have to worry about the unknown timing for their date in Court.
The enormous reduction in new personal injury claims during this pandemic period combined with the further delayed litigation process will have a host of impacts on the personal injury law firm landscape. Those impacts may include the following:
The collapse of mass marketing firms?
Mass marketing by personal injury law firms aims to raise brand awareness and secure a high percentage of calls from potential clients throughout Ontario. With the substantially reduced number of cases, those mass marketing law firms will not have the same volume of calls and will have to substantially reduce their personnel. With industry revenues expected to drop considerably, mass marketing to the same distasteful extent that we have seen in the last few years may not be an option for struggling firms.
The rise of experienced personal injury lawyers and law firms?
Experienced and well-established law firms with a long history of success in the personal injury field will have a stable of ongoing claims to focus on during this period of industry decline. Furthermore, potential clients may see the collapse of some of the mass marketing law firms causing them to be mindful of hiring a personal injury lawyer with objective credentials of experience, success and expertise in personal injury law (such as a Certification by the Law Society of Ontario as a Civil Litigation Specialist and various other reputable peer reviewed credentials). Potential clients will be inclined to search for a law firm with a long history of success as opposed to a newer firm that may struggle with the new industry realities.
Because personal injury lawsuits take a number of years from start to finish, personal injury lawyers tend to wind down their practice rather than announcing a sudden retirement. They often do so out of a duty and responsibility to their clients who expect them to see the case through. The industry impacts caused by the pandemic may provide a window of time for more senior personal injury lawyers to better plan and map out their retirement.
We all hope that the COVID-19 pandemic situation is resolved quickly and that life can get back to normal. We are looking at a “new normal,” which may very well have long lasting impacts on businesses including personal injury law firms.
Darcy Merkur is a highly regarded Ontario trauma lawyer helping accident victims such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, who have sustained catastrophic injuries.
Darcy is one of just four plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers in Ontario recognized as a Certified Specialist in Civil Litigation by the Law Society of Ontario, listed in peer-reviewed publications – Lexpert®, The Best Lawyers™ in Canada and AV pre-eminent Martindale-Hubbell ®. He is also a partner at Thomson Rogers, one of Canada’s Top 10 Personal Injury Law Firms as selected by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.
Darcy can be reached at 416-868-3176 or by EMAIL.