How Virginians Are Coming Together During the COVID-19 Crisis

How Virginians Are Coming Together During the COVID-19 Crisis

helping each other during coronavirus

Coronavirus has presented humanity with apparently insurmountable challenges, but it may have underestimated us. People across the world have stepped up, embraced their humanity, and shown that we will not let a virus bring us down.

This is especially true in Virginia. Alongside news stories about the virus’ death toll, case numbers, and updates, you’ll find no shortage of heartwarming stories highlighting how Virginians have come together during this time. There are reports that COVID-19 cases have been on a downward trend for three days in a row in Virginia, and these news stories bring much-needed hope and optimism.

Celebrating the Graduating Class

The loss of the rest of the school year is hard for parents and students everywhere, but perhaps no one is more disappointed than the 2020 graduating class. They’ve lost prom and the graduation that their families have looked forward to for 18 years. In Chesapeake, Virginia, the community decided to honor these graduates with a drive-by parade. The streets were lined with supporters (practicing social distancing, of course) who cheered as graduates drove by and waved out windows, wearing their caps and gowns. It may not be the graduation ceremony they anticipated, but it’s definitely one that they’ll be telling the next generation about.

Supporting Those Without Reliable Access to Food

Those with limited access to housing and food are at serious risk of coronavirus because they often do not have the luxury of social distancing or ingesting healthy foods that support their immune system. To combat this, a food pantry in Northern Virginia has started giving away thousands of dollars in grocery store gift cards. The pantry’s shelves were bare due to a dwindling amount of volunteers after Virginia residents were ordered to shelter in place. They chose to give away the rest of their remaining food, take donations online from the community, and use those donations to give gift cards to those in need of assistance. This gives families on the brink one less thing to worry about during one of the greatest challenges most of us will ever face.

Testing for Those at Risk

Everyone has seen how coronavirus tears through nursing homes and hospitals, due to the at-risk populations and the proximity of those living in these facilities. However, few have thought of the effects on those in jails, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities. In Virginia, 139 inmates and 50 DOC staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as 25 kids at a juvenile facility. Thanks to advocacy from legal aid groups, the Virginia Department of Corrections is now dramatically ramping up its testing of inmates.

Celebrating a Veteran’s 101st Birthday

Everyone wants to feel special on their birthday; unfortunately, COVID-19 has canceled thousands of celebrations and will inevitably lead to the cancellation of many more. What about those who have milestone birthdays? When one of their own had a 101st birthday to celebrate, the Richmond community made sure he got a chance to celebrate.

Norbert Kopecko is a Richmond resident, World War II veteran, and a cherished member of his community. For more than 70 years, he celebrated his birthdays with his beloved wife until she passed away. To commemorate his impressive 101st birthday milestone, the people of Richmond gathered outside his house while maintaining social distance and sang to him. Many brought party hats, posters, and noisemakers.

This is just one example of why many are pushing for the term “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing.” Yes, we are all physically apart during this time, but we are definitely not socially isolated from our communities.

Rallying Support for Essential Workers

A heartwarming story out of Ashburn, Virginia highlights the ingenuity of children and the pure hearts they have when they learn of others’ struggles. Zohaib Begg, a seven-year-old boy living in Ashburn, learned about PPE shortages at hospitals in Virginia. His first thought: sew masks to help them.

When he realized he didn’t know how to sew, he shifted to focus on gathering unused gear from hotels and donating it to hospitals. He collected over 6,000 face masks, shower caps, and gloves. His efforts got so much attention that he was acknowledged by Barack Obama in a tweet. In true kid fashion, when asked “What has the reaction been to your donations?”, the little boy responded, “I don’t know, because I am in quarantine.”

How is your community coming together during these unprecedented times? How are you giving back? What would you like to see from businesses and individuals in your neighborhood? Reach out to the team at Pack Law Group if you are experiencing legal troubles during this time; we are always here to help.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents Could Increase During Coronavirus Shutdown

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents Could Increase During Coronavirus Shutdown

pedestrian deaths in virginia

COVID-19 has had a ripple effect on every sector of society, leading to strange changes in trends that few anticipated. One good example: changes in car accident statistics, including accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists. If you are using this time to get more outdoor exercise and stay active, know what to expect, how to protect yourself, and why you need to be extra cautious.

Vehicle Crashes May Decrease During This Time

Across the United States, cities are reporting significantly lower levels of traffic. Stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders are in effect in nearly every state, and even among those that do not have official orders, many people are staying home to limit their exposure to coronavirus. More people are working from home, and there are no school drop-offs or pickups to schedule anymore. When you add all these factors together, you get substantially lower levels of road traffic and less risk for accidents.

However, some believe that lower traffic rates don’t cause an equal decrease in accidents. Emptier roads may leave some drivers more space to drive recklessly, putting them and those around them at greater risk. Similarly, distracted driving accidents could tick up during this time as people try to focus on driving while grappling with the weight of coronavirus-related worries.

The Safety of Pedestrians in Virginia

Heading into the COVID-19 situations, pedestrians were already at risk of being injured or killed in accidents in Virginia. From 2015 through 2018, pedestrian deaths increased in the state. The state responded by implementing rigorous safety standards and technology in areas with high accident rates. Early reports indicate that these efforts are working and that pedestrian accidents are decreasing. Activist groups have fought for clearer signaling, more bike lanes, and other necessary changes.

Why Bicyclists and Pedestrians Are at Risk Right Now

So why are pedestrians and bicyclists at greater risk now than in the months leading up to the COVID-19 crisis? To start, there are simply more bicyclists and pedestrians on the roads than there were before. Shelter-in-place orders allow for outdoor exercise, and more people are taking advantage of this opportunity now that there is little else to do. Busier sidewalks and roads naturally increase the risk of accidents.

Additionally, those who are just now starting to walk and stretch their legs on their bikes may not know the rules of the road or understand what it takes to stay safe. This group could be at substantial risk for injuries or fatalities.

To complicate matters further, in some parts of the state, officials are using this time of decreased traffic to get started on important road construction projects. This could cause people to reroute, causing traffic jams at major streets.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

You don’t have to lose sleep about accident rates in Virginia right now. The state’s residents are doing well when it comes to abiding by the stay-at-home order, and this decrease in traffic should make roads somewhat safer for the length of the shutdown.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you can be careless or unaware as you explore your neighborhood on foot or on bike. It is crucial to avoid accidents right now. If you are injured in an accident in normal times, the hospital has the staff, equipment, and technology needed to help you. If you require emergency care right now, you run the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 through the glut of patients filling ERs across the country. Furthermore, some hospitals may not have the staff, protective equipment, or technology to give you the help and care you need. For this reason alone, it’s worth looking twice before you cross the road.

If you are willing to make slight changes to your routines, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe during this time. Try to hit the roads and trails at non-peak hours. Stay off the roads at times when essential workers are filling the streets and heading to their shifts. Try to only travel at times when the streets are well-lit. If you do exercise at night, put reflective strips on your clothes or bicycle to make sure you are visible to drivers and other exercisers.

No matter how careful you are to avoid accidents, they do happen. If you are struck by a vehicle, make sure you seek medical care and get the person’s contact information. Then, reach out to a local personal injury attorney to get the support you need. The team at Pack Law Group is committed to helping victims get the compensation they deserve after they are hurt by someone else’s negligence. Contact us online or call us at 540-586-7225 to discuss your next steps.

How Will COVID-19 Affect My Accident Injury Claim?

How Will COVID-19 Affect My Accident Injury Claim?

how will the coronavirus affect your car accident case in Virginia?

As we head into the second month of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are anxious about how different areas of their life will be impacted. If you have an ongoing accident injury claim, you are likely concerned about court shutdowns and law firm closures. Whether you are handling an existing injury claim, or you’ve been hurt during this time and you want to know your options, find out how COVID-19 could affect your accident injury claim.

Court Closures and Your Current Claim

Courts around the country are closed indefinitely except for emergency proceedings, leaving many in the midst of family, criminal, and personal injury cases concerned about what comes next. If your personal injury claim does have to go to court, it’s likely that you will be waiting quite a bit longer for any resolution to your case. When courts do reopen, judges’ dockets will likely be filled with backlogged cases, and it could take months to work through that backlog and get the court running as normal again.

All that said, it is important to remember one key fact about personal injury claims; very few actually go to court. Going to court adds an element of risk for both parties, and in most situations, both parties benefit by settling the issues outside the courtroom. If your lawyer successfully negotiates a fair settlement on your behalf, the court shutdown could have a minimal impact on your personal injury claim.

How Insurance Companies Will Use This to Their Advantage

Insurance companies are always looking for ways to decrease payouts and boost their bottom lines, and a crisis like COVID-19 gives them an opportunity to do both. Insurance adjusters know you don’t want to go to court, and they know you especially don’t want to go to court when doing so could mean waiting months for a payout.

They may use this information to negotiate more aggressively and hold back on offering more money. They will bluff that they cannot give more and are willing to handle the matter in court, knowing that most people will back down and accept a lowball settlement.

Does this mean you have to buckle and accept a low offer? No. But it does make it all the more important to have an experienced attorney on your side throughout this process. Seasoned attorneys know how insurance companies use situations like this one to help themselves, and they know what it takes to bring them back to the negotiating table.

Remember, it is also bad for insurance companies to have claims sit for months while they wait for a court date. They want to close the claim, write off the amount, and move on. Your attorney can use factors like these that work in your favor to secure a fair settlement.

New Injury Claims

The process may be more challenging for those who suffer injuries during this time and need to seek compensation. Finding a lawyer is the easy part. Even though most law firms have their offices closed, the attorneys themselves are still working from home. You may be able to get your case started with a phone consultation or video conference.

However, personal injury claims rely heavily on medical evidence and treatment to determine the severity of your injury and the expenses related to it. Many medical clinics and hospital departments are closed right now to limit unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 patients and to free up medical staff to help out in the ICU/ER as needed. This may make it difficult to get your injury assessed, and ongoing treatment may be even more challenging to secure. As a result, your case could drag on indefinitely until medical care becomes more widely accessible again.

For the best outcome, work with an experienced injury attorney that has contacts throughout your community. They understand the importance of medical treatments for a PI claim, and they may be able to find doctors who are still providing necessary screenings, assessments, and treatments during this time.

Getting What You Deserve

This process may be longer than you once expected, but don’t lose hope. COVID-19 won’t last forever, and neither will your personal injury case. Despite court closures and other business closures, the legal system is still quite efficient during this time.

As we touched on earlier, while it is always recommended that you work with an attorney for personal injury matters, it is even more important during this time. Trying to handle your own claim could be very costly.

Insurance companies aren’t going to spend time haggling with individual victims when their case count is growing by the minute, so you could be forced to accept a low settlement or lose your chance of receiving any settlement. If you hire an attorney, they know you are serious about your claim and that they should come to the table ready to play fair if they want to close it out.

If you need assistance with a personal injury claim, we are here for you. Reach out to the team at Pack Law Group to discuss your legal needs today.