With a global pandemic keeping everyone in their homes, the Pennsylvania court system is facing a challenge no U.S. court has faced for centuries: how do you administer justice while protecting the public from an epidemic? Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC wanted to address some of the questions you might have, whether you have a pending claim or you’re considering filing a claim before the statute of limitations runs out.
Today, we’re talking about how the coronavirus epidemic may affect your claim—or how it already has.
On March 18, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a court order that governs all state courts, including the Superior, Commonwealth, and District courts. The order closed all Pennsylvania state courts to the public until April 3 (at the earliest) and declared a state of judicial emergency until April 14. In all state courts, the use of remote communication (by phone or video) for court proceedings is not only permissible, but “encouraged.” Cases where remote communication is neither possible nor constitutionally permissible will be delayed.
What Cases Will Be Allowed to Go Forward (& Which Are Delayed)?
Whether your case will be delayed will depend on what you want to do. Because the state courts are closed except for essential functions, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a traditional hearing on your case.
Per the order, essential functions for the Superior and Commonwealth courts only include:
- Election matters
- Children’s Fast Track matters
- Emergency filings
- Functions deemed an emergency by President Judge
Jury and non-jury trials will be rescheduled, but for now they will remain suspended.
All hearings related to civil trials—including pretrial conferences, discovery motions, and other meetings—are either postponed or must be conducted remotely. In fact, any non-emergency matter requiring the presence of an attorney or a litigant has been postponed indefinitely and will be rescheduled at a later date.
Deadlines to Be Extended for Filing, Court Orders & More
The Supreme Court’s order stipulates that all “time considerations” are suspended until April 3. If you had a case-related deadline between March 18 and April 3, that deadline has been moved. Any pleadings due between March 19 and April 3 are now due April 6 at the earliest. Local courts may decide to extend deadlines further as they see fit.
Our Unwavering Commitment to Your Well-Being
Reach out to our team if you need an advocate during these difficult times. While we may require slightly more time to return calls and emails, we are still receiving clients and building cases. You can trust we are working as hard as possible on behalf the injured and their families. State courts may be closed for a few weeks, but we will continue pushing cases forward by remaining in touch with insurers, defense attorneys, and other parties.
To our current clients: no matter what, the legal team at HHR will here for you through all of this. Even in the middle of a health crisis, our advocacy on your behalf is unwavering. We will continue to do everything we can to resolve your claims and get you the compensation you need to move forward.
Call F:P:Sub:Phone} to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania. We can answer your questions and help you navigate the court system while it’s under siege from the coronavirus.
For the latest information about the Pennsylvania state courts' response to COVID-19, visit the court website here.