I’m a Chicago lawyer and haven’t gone through every county in Illinois, but I am 99.9% sure that the entire state is handling the COVID 19 crisis the same way. There is so much you need to know if you have a legal issue. I will list them in no particular order. If you have any questions or concerns, you can call me for a FREE consultation any time at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.
- Until the State or Federal government quarantines everyone, most law offices I know are open. They may have a skeleton staff or be working remotely, but they are still handling cases. We are open and when we aren’t in the office, our calls are forwarded to an answering service. This is how we always operate.
- Most civil courts are closed for the time being except for emergency situations like a child custody issue. I can tell you that most cases are not considered emergencies. As of now the closure is to the end of the month in most places but I expect that courts won’t open as normal until June at the earliest. Hopefully I’m wrong and it’s much sooner.
- Even though courts are mostly closed to the public, cases are still being filed electronically. So if you have a lawsuit to file, I wouldn’t expect that you’d get out of a statute of limitations violation because you can’t get in the court building.
- Many lawyers, including most of the ones we work with, do everything electronically already. Beyond that, nobody wants to travel right now or should travel much. That doesn’t stop you from getting a lawyer. You can expect attorneys can sign your case up electronically and meet with you via Face Time or video conferencing. Some attorneys are behind the times when it comes to technology and this is going to hurt them.
- The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is also closed, but they will consider some emergency cases. No word on how they are going to process settlement contracts yet, but I expect that the Arbitrators will have them mailed to them.
- Criminal courts are mostly operating as normal although in many areas they are not pushing low level misdemeanor cases very hard. If you don’t have a violent crime charge or a serious felony, you might be able to negotiate a better plea than you would at other times.
- It’s not illegal for an employer to let you go right now over Coronavirus making their business slow. If that happens or your hours get cut, you should immediately file for unemployment.
- Evictions are mostly being halted right now. If you don’t pay your rent it’s likely you won’t get evicted, but not guaranteed and of course when this all blows over it could be trouble for you.
- Don’t let your attorney tell you that they can’t do anything on your case right now. Depositions can still happen. Court filings can still happen. Negotiations can still happen. COVID 19 is bad for everyone, including those with legal matters, but it’s not shutting everything down. If your attorney can’t do an in person deposition then they should seek to do it by video conference or telephone if appropriate.
- One thing this virus is going to reveal is that some attorneys who are overly reliant on their support staff are going to be exposed. If your attorney is never available by phone and usually has his clerk talk to you, what are they going to do when that person is working from home or let go. You should demand/expect to talk to a lawyer anyway.
- Be very wary of hiring a one person law firm right now. We have no idea how widespread this disease is going to get, but if your one attorney shop is suddenly quarantined it could greatly harm you.
- Nobody has called me looking to sue someone who gave them the virus, but I’m sure that is coming. If you can prove you caught it work that might be a case. But suing someone who gave it to you is likely a long shot because you can get this virus from anywhere. It’s one reason you don’t see people suing someone who gave them the flu.
I have other thoughts, but 12 tips is a good start. Stay safe and please call us any time with legal questions.