As Americans continue to take precautions, the situation in Europe is more dire. In one news story from the BBC, the defendant’s travel plans were interrupted, interfering with a hearing regarding a fatal crash in Moray, Scotland.
The crash caused the death of 5 people, including a 4-year-old boy, and was allegedly the result of an Italian driver falling asleep at the wheel. On March 6, the 47-year-old defendant was unable to travel from Sicily to the High Court in Glasgow due to travel bans in Italy. The travel bans were put in place to address the rapid spread of coronavirus; in Italy, there are more than 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827.
Because the defendant was not able to make it to his hearing due to extraordinary circumstances, his lawyer asked to go ahead without him. The judge granted this request “in light of geography,” and the defendant’s attorney entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf to the charge of “causing deaths and serious injury by dangerous driving.” The trial is now scheduled for August 7 in Edinburgh.
How Does this Apply to the United States?
Right now, it doesn’t. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“For the majority of people [Americans], the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.”
Despite the CDC’s risk assessment, many places across the country are canceling or postponing public events. Some companies, like Google and Twitter, are asking their employees to work from home. Nevertheless, the legal system continues to function according to plan.
In short, coronavirus probably won’t affect your lawsuit, and if it does, the court will likely make adjustments to keep justice on track.
Follow the hyperlinks throughout this article for the most accurate and up to date news on COVID-19. WHO and the CDC are especially useful resources.