Frequently Asked Questions on Personal Injury in Rhode Island
- What steps should I take when I have been injured in an accident?
- What are the "do's and don'ts" if I am involved in an accident?
- How do I determine who was at fault?
- What is my claim worth?
- How long do I have to file a legal claim?
- Will I need to go to court?
Free initial consultation and interview
If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Attorney Ray Pacia as soon as possible to learn your options and protect your legal rights. We operate on a contingency basis – there is no fee until we achieve fair and adequate compensation for your harms and losses. Call us at 401.727.2242, or contact us online. Out-of-state clients can call toll free 800.933.0390.
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When you have been injured by someone else's negligence, seek any required medical attention first. But, as soon as possible, take the following steps to protect your rights and ensure a fair settlement:
- Try to write down every detail about the accident. You should record contact information about the negligent party as well as witnesses, all available insurance information. Obtain a police report, if available, and, if the accident is a workers' compensation issue, make note of the insurance company name and contact information.
- Before making any written or verbal statements to insurance companies or other claims handlers, call Ray Pacia for a free initial consultation so you can make sure your rights are protected.
- Obtain all possible evidence that will prove your injury. Take pictures of the accident scene, if possible. Retain any clothing or damaged property, or anything that might provide evidence for your case.
- Do maintain a medical diary and history until your recovery is complete.
- Do, without delay, use your own camera or cell phone to photograph the scene of the accident from all angles. Be sure to photograph all automobiles, including the other automobile involved, if possible. Show all traffic controls and background. Save all negatives or digital image files, if applicable.
- Do photograph yourself to show your injuries at various stages.
- Do without delay, send us the names and addresses of any and all witnesses.
- Do without delay, send us all information you receive about the accident.
- Do send us a copy of your entire auto insurance policy and any accident and health and medical payments policies, and detail any medical coverage for your benefit that your employer or union may have.
- Do notify us from time to time, in writing, of all of your medical care, including names of doctors and when treated.
- Do save and send us the following documents:
- All medical, hospital, and appliance bills, receipts, and notes from doctors.
- All drug and medicine bills, even aspirin, no matter how small.
- All bills for repair and cleaning of destroyed personal property such as clothing, glasses, false teeth, etc. If any item was damaged in the accident, do not throw it away.
- Bills for braces, appliances, canes, and crutches.
- Do keep all appointments with doctors. If you cannot keep an appointment, notify the doctor as much in advance as possible, make another appointment, and advise us that you did not keep the originally-scheduled appointment.
- Do keep us informed of anything important, and, if possible, in writing. Be sure to send us the following:
- Newspaper accounts of the accident. Please do not assume that your lawyer must have seen it. He may have been out of town, or it may be in a different edition of the paper.
- Reports of convictions and/or news accounts of anyone involved in the accident.
- If anyone from the other side or from an insurance company communicates with you, and what was said.
- Anything you receive from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
- Do always notify us of any change of address or new telephone numbers.
- Do always immediately respond to our correspondence to you.
- Don't talk with any insurance adjusters, but do learn their names, claim number, telephone number, and the company they are representing. Notify us immediately with this information.
- Don't sign any papers, such as insurance forms, statements, etc., without first obtaining your attorney's approval.
- Don't discuss your accident with friends and neighbors because the insurance company often assigns investigators to speak with your neighbors to learn what you have told them about the accident and your injuries.
- Don't throw out collars, casts, crutches, medicine bottles, and other special medical devices that you have used to help in the cure of your injuries.
- Don't rush into settlement until you are sure that your injuries are fully determinable.
To collect on an injury claim in Rhode Island, you must prove the person who caused the injury was negligent -- which in Rhode Island requires these four components:
- Duty: A person is responsible for acting properly in a given situation.
- Breach: The person failed to act properly.
- Causation: The negligent conduct caused injury to person or property.
- Damages: The harms and losses must be quantified into a specific amount of money that provides full and adequate compensation to the injured person.
Rhode Island uses the pure comparative fault rule, which means that you can recover damages in proportion to the amount that you and the other party were at fault. So, if you both equally share responsibility, you can still collect 50 percent of your damages. Taking that situation a step further, you can potentially recover all of your damages from one negligent person even if several negligent people were involved. In that case, after you recover from one person, that person may seek contribution from the other people involved.
Under Rhode Island law, the person who injured you is responsible for any costs associated with the injury, including (but not limited to) these expenses:
- Any medical expenses, including future ones, incurred as a result of the accident
- All lost work time, all lost earnings, which includes the time you must be away for medical and associated time
- All property that has been damaged
- All expenses related to caring for you and your home when you are incapacitated
- Any permanent injuries, including disfigurement or disability
- Emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and any interference with your family relationships
- The reduction or loss of future earning capability resulting from the injury
- Pain and suffering, physical and mental
Ray Pacia knows what type of expert witness to hire to best explain and prove your damages.
Most personal injury claims in Rhode Island have a three year statue of limitations, which means you will only have 3 years to file a law suit against the person who injured you. In many instances the three years statue of limitations may not apply and it may be longer or shorter. Attorney Ray Pacia will make sure that your legal rights are properly protected and that a law suit, if necessary, will be filed before the expiration of the statue of limitation
There are a number of options available to you when you have been injured:
- Settlement: You may be able to achieve a reasonable settlement through direct negotiation, but a lawyer will most likely achieve the best results. Ray Pacia is experienced at negotiating with all parties involved in personal injury cases.
- Arbitration: Both sides may agree to use a professional arbitrator to determine who is at fault and the awards that should be paid. You need an expert like Ray Pacia to protect your rights by selecting a fair arbitrator and handling the case in a manner similar to a court-run proceeding.
- Mediation: You may choose to use an impartial mediator, who helps you and your opponent reach an agreement by facilitating the negotiations.
- Court case: At times, a trial in court by a jury or judge is your best option to obtaining the maximum awards due to you. This is especially true when insurance companies are treating you unfairly.
Ray Pacia knows that you may be most comfortable working outside of the court system. He will clearly explain all your options, along with the results you can expect from each one. Ray never loses sight of the fact that this is your case. If you prefer to stay out of court, and if you are willing to accept a potentially smaller settlement, he will proceed in the way that is best for you.