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Coronavirus Legal FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the New Federal and Maryland State Tax Filing Deadlines?

Both the federal and Maryland deadlines for filing 2019 taxes have been extended to July 15th. October 15th is the deadline for those who filed for a federal extension.

Will COVID-19 Affect My Personal Injury Case?

In Maryland and around the country, courts have closed. They have now reopened. But the court as backlogged and the most pressing cases, mostly criminal and family law cases, are getting priority. Still, we have tried three personal injury cases in 2021 already.

The courts are still in the process of working out the many issues presented by this unique moment. At Miller & Zois, we are watching the situation closely and doing everything in our power to get the best possible results for our clients.

Will the Value of Personal Injury Cases be Affected?

We expected the value of personal injury cases to decrease as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. But it really did not. Insurance companies tried to take advantage of COVID and the financial stress it brought on and made lowball settlement offers. It didn't work and things are mostly back to usual.

Will Maryland Court Closure Delay My Personal Injury Case?

The courts in Maryland have been closed to the public since March 16th and are currently closed until June 5th. However, essential personnel are still working and hearing emergency cases. This includes things like bail review, criminal arraignments, and protective orders, but not personal injury cases. All personal injury hearings, trials, and other proceedings will be rescheduled.

However, it is still possible to file documents and pleadings for both pending and new cases with the courts. The statute of limitations (typically 3 years) and filing deadlines for personal injury cases have not been extended, so it is important that documents are still filed. Documents can be filed on the MDEC system, by mail, or in a drop-box. The “filing date” for mailed documents is the mailing date, and the previous day for documents placed in a drop-box.

Will I Benefit from the Federal Stimulus Package?

The federal stimulus package, known as the CARES Act, will provide up to $1,200 to eligible Americans. Married couples who file jointly will receive $2,400. Parents can also receive $500 for each child age 16 or younger. These stimulus checks are tax-free, and eligibility is based on the adjusted gross income on your 2019 tax return (or 2018 if you haven’t filed yet). Those who didn’t have to file in 2018 or 2019 but receive social security payments will get a check.

You are not eligible if:

  • You do not have a social security number
  • If you are claimed as a dependent on somebody else’s taxes (children and adults)
  • If your income is above $99,000 for single filers, above $136,500 for head-of-household filers/single parents, and above $198,000 for married couples with no children
Can I be Evicted, Foreclosed on, or Have my Utilities turned off in Maryland During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Governor Hogan issued a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures while the state of emergency is in effect in Maryland. He also prohibited utility providers from shutting off service or charging late fees during the state of emergency.

However, there is currently no rent freeze in Maryland. Renters are still expected to pay rent and may still face eviction once the state of emergency is lifted. Those who have lost their income due to the virus can apply for unemployment, as discussed below.

Where Can I Get Help if I Lost my Job and Cannot Pay Rent?

Unemployment benefits have been greatly expanded to help Marylanders during the crisis. You should apply for unemployment if you:

  • Were laid off
  • Your workplace is closed or went out of business
  • You were temporarily laid off
  • Your hours were reduced
  • You cannot work because you were told by a doctor or healthcare worker to isolate due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19
  • You are taking off from work because you are sick but are not eligible for/have exhausted your PTO
  • You decided to leave your work because you were concerned about getting the virus
Do I Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Maryland if I Lose my Job due to COVID-19?

Workers’ compensation is different from the expanded unemployment benefits discussed above. Essentially, workers’ compensation is supposed to compensate those who were injured on the job due to a hazard commonly associated with the occupation.

To have a viable workers’ compensation claim, there must be a connection between the employee having the virus and the circumstances of their employment. This may be challenging to prove since the virus is so contagious and its symptoms have a delayed onset.

In order to have a decent claim, there would have to be either a single event that could explain the employee’s infection, a refusal on the part of the employer to implement health guidelines, or a high probability of exposure related to a particular field.

Where Can I Get Help for my Maryland Small Business?

Maryland has a $175 million relief program in place to help businesses survive the COVID-19 shutdown. The program breaks down into several different funds targeting small businesses who will have a harder time losing a few months’ revenue than large companies.

  • Businesses with less than 50 employees that are able to demonstrate financial distress can apply for an up to $50,000 loan [note: this application closed on April 6th]
  • Small businesses and nonprofits that have lost revenue and whose annual revenues are less than $5 million can apply for an up to $10,000 loan. [note: this application closed on April 6th]
  • Small businesses can apply to receive up to $50,000 in funding from the “layoff aversion” fund [note: this application closed on April 6th]
  • There is a $5 million incentive program to help Maryland manufacturers produce PPE equipment [apply here]

For information about additional funding and federal funding, follow the links below:

Does my Employer Have to Give me Paid Sick Leave if I Get the Virus?

According to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), federal, state, and local public agencies and companies with fewer than 500 employees must provide their employees with up to 80 hours of sick leave. Employees are eligible for this sick leave if they are full-time workers and have either been diagnosed with the virus, have been told to quarantine, have symptoms of the virus, who are caring for a family member who has the virus, or who have a child younger than 18 who is at home due to schools closing.

Is my Employer Allowed to Take my Temperature?

Yes, employers have been given the right by the EEOC to take the temperature of an employee exhibiting symptoms and send them home for the safety of employees and to prevent the spread of the virus. Employers are allowed to require a doctor’s note, too, before allowing employees to return to work.

One of my Employees is Sick, What Do I Do?

There are no legal requirements that employers must follow in this situation. The best practice is to send the employee and anyone they worked with home.

Am I Allowed to Lay Off an Employee During the Maryland State of Emergency?

Laying off an employee due to financial difficulties is allowed and is not wrongful termination. Additionally, if your business is an essential business, you are most likely able to terminate an employee for not coming to work.

Can Child Custody be Changed While Maryland Courts are Closed Due to the Coronavirus?

Family law emergencies, including custody cases, are considered priorities and are still being heard in Maryland courts. Your case may need to be heard in person, rescheduled, heard via videoconference, or resolved without a hearing. Contact the Circuit Court or District Court.

Can Someone be Arrested or Sued for Exposing Others to the Virus?

People have been arrested in Maryland for willfully ignoring the stay-at-home order. Throwing parties, for example, has gotten people arrested. There have also been cases of people diagnosed with the virus spitting and coughing at other people, a misdemeanor charge called “exposure by an infected individual.” There will also be hundreds of civil cases filed as a result of the pandemic. Plaintiffs will sue over things like insurance claims, gross negligence, medical malpractice, and even battery.

How will my Criminal Case be Affected by the Maryland Court Closure?

Maryland courts are closed until June 5th. This date may be extended. Most criminal cases are being rescheduled. However, emergency matters are still being heard. These include but are not limited to:

  • Bail review hearings
  • Bench warrants
  • Criminal arraignments
  • Emergency evaluation petitions
  • High-risk protective orders (domestic violence emergencies)
  • Family law emergencies (custody, etc.)

For both new and pending cases, statutory and rules deadlines have been extended. You can still file documents with the court electronically through the MDEC system, by mail, or via the court’s drop-box.

Client Reviews
They quite literally worked as hard as if not harder than the doctors to save our lives. Terry Waldron
Ron helped me find a clear path that ended with my foot healing and a settlement that was much more than I hope for. Aaron Johnson
Hopefully I won't need it again but if I do, I have definitely found my lawyer for life and I would definitely recommend this office to anyone! Bridget Stevens
The last case I referred to them settled for $1.2 million. John Selinger
I am so grateful that I was lucky to pick Miller & Zois. Maggie Lauer
The entire team from the intake Samantha to the lawyer himself (Ron Miller) has been really approachable. Suzette Allen
The case settled and I got a lot more money than I expected. Ron even fought to reduce how much I owed in medical bills so I could get an even larger settlement. Nchedo Idahosa