Congress failed to reach a federal budget agreement (aka “appropriations”) as of midnight yesterday, which resulted in a government shutdown. The shutdown will continue until Congress can come to an agreement. The last two shutdowns took place during the Clinton administration. One lasted for nine days and the other three weeks. The consequences of the shutdown will become more severe the longer it continues. This particular shutdown hinges on Republicans’ refusal to approve the stop-gap measure until Democrats defund ObamaCare, which Democrats refuse to do.
Government offices such as the national parks, federal museums (ex: The Smithsonian), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and more have been significantly impacted by the shutdown, while offices such as the Social Security Administration and Medicare will not stop because they do not need annual federal funding to stay afloat. However, even these offices are expected to experience delays and other minor hiccups.
As personal injury attorneys in St. Louis, we thought it appropriate to explain how the government shutdown could affect civil cases. According to the Justice Department, federal courts will continue to operate as usual for about ten days. Hopefully the shutdown does not last any longer than this. If it does, the judiciary will have to begin putting their employees on unpaid furlough starting with employees who have the least-essential duties when it comes to hearing cases.
While the Justice Department did announce that criminal litigation will continue as normal without any delays, many civil cases will be suspended. The primary implications of the shutdown are economic, but secondarily, the overall efficiency of federal programs will also suffer. This could unfortunately mean some delays in civil cases that are heard in federal court.
It is also important to note that government safety and health research programs such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Food and Drug Administration could be affected by the shutdown. If the CDC and FDA are limited in spotting food and product dangers, this could potentially result in more dangerous products being released to consumers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other work safety programs through the U.S. Department of Labor will also likely have to cease all workplace inspections and accident investigations until the shutdown is over. The only exception might be cases classified as putting workers and those in the surrounding community in “imminent danger.”
According to President Obama, “The shutdown will have a very real impact on real people right away.” The St. Louis personal injury lawyers at Fox Goldblatt & Singer PC are here for you. If you have questions or concerns about a civil case or would like to discuss legal representation, please call us today.