COVID Client Letter

Posted by Scott A. Staples | Apr 03, 2020

COVID-19 has changed our day to day reality quickly, including how our cases are handled at this time. I'll share an e-mail, a version of which I wrote to several clients lately, because I think it fairly summarizes the state of things right now. I wrote this a little less than two weeks ago. It's largely still accurate, except I'm happy to report we have been having success with reliable video conferencing platforms that are making it possible to carry on the business of our clients' cases more seamlessly than I had imagined.  Here it is:

I just wanted to check in with you about your case and how it relates to the state of the world right now.  We are still working on a solution for the mediation that will allow all parties to connect via video, and I will keep you posted.  My office is now closed to outsiders, and even to attorneys and staff, except a skeleton crew for necessary in-office physical tasks.  Most law offices are doing the same now, trying to do our work remotely to help “flatten the curve” of the virus. 

Clark County Superior Court is basically closed to jury proceedings and even in-person motion dockets until (as of now) April 27.  If I were betting, I'd bet that will be extended.  Even if it weren't extended, we do not have guidance yet as to what that means for trials like ours that come in the weeks and months after April 27.  It is quite possible that the backlog of untried cases during those six weeks will end up causing ones like ours to be continued to a later date to be determined.  This is especially so because criminal trials are currently suspended as well, and there are constitutional reasons they need to get back on the docket as soon as it is safe to do so.  Civil trials like ours are not subject to the same concern, and therefore are more likely to be pushed off. 

I'm not yet sure what this means for our efforts to get your case settled short of trial.   It is possible that insurers will clam up more than usual, knowing that trials are likely to be delayed (so they can hold onto money longer), thinking claimants may be more likely to settle in these times of uncertainty, and also maybe predicting juries will not have tremendous sympathy for injury case plaintiffs when the world at large is really panicked and hurting.  It's possible they want to get these potential liabilities off their books and will give good faith efforts to settle.  I just don't know how this is going to play out yet.    

For now, we proceed onward with all activity necessary to get your case ready for trial, albeit often in a way adapted to the needs of the current situation.  I'd encourage you to think on this and get in touch with me if you have any questions.  Stay safe. 

About the Author

Scott A. Staples

Scott Staples came on board in 2006 as a clerk during law school, and joined the firm as an associate attorney in 2007. He was made a shareholder in the firm in 2010. Scott graduated, cum laude, from Washington State University Vancouver with a BA in English, and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Willamette University College of Law, with cum laude honors there as well. He has successfully represented clients in a variety of different types of injury cases, including auto collisions, premises liability, animal attacks, watercraft accidents, and construction site injuries. He has appeared, and won, before the Washington State Supreme Court (Weismann v. Safeco, 2012). Scott has volunteered time for the past several years at the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Housing Justice Project. He has previously served on the new member and membership committees for the Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), and has acted as chair and co-chair of the WSAJ Clark County Roundtable. He is a member of the Washington and Oregon State Bar Associations, WSAJ and OTLA (state trial lawyer organizations), and is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Washington and Oregon. Scott was born and raised in Vancouver, attending Vancouver public schools and graduating from Hudson's Bay High School. He enjoys playing recreational basketball and softball, skiing, and spending time with his wife and three children.

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