Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer

Aug 14

RI SSDI/SSI Lawyer: Disability Review

            Obtaining benefits through a federal program such as SSDI or SSI, offered by the Social Security Administration, can often times be a difficult process. The procedures that must be followed can be lengthy and complicated. Our Rhode Island SSDI and SSI lawyers can assist you in the application process and represent you through the process to ensure that you are treated fairly and that your interests are properly presented to make sure that you receive the full amount of benefits that you are entitled to.

            Even after a determination in your favor that awards benefits, it is important to understand that the extent of your disability can be reviewed periodically, which may affect the amount of benefits that you receive. A RI SSDI and SSI attorney can assist you in understanding what to expect and how to proceed, so that your benefits are not incorrectly terminated.

            There is no set schedule of how frequently a disability can be reviewed. Generally, the severity of your disability and future prognosis will dictate when the disability will be reviewed. For those who have a condition which is expected to improve, disability reviews will be scheduled approximately every six to eighteen months. Those who do not anticipate improvement in their physical condition can usually expect a review every seven years.

            A representative from SSA will contact you to inform you of the review process. An interview will be conducted to update the agency on your physical condition and any changes that have occurred since they last contacted you.  They may request that you be examined by a physician. All the relevant evidence will then be assembled and your case will be analyzed by a member of the Disability Determination Services.

            If after the disability review, your benefits are stopped, there are ways to appeal the decision. You have sixty days to urge for reconsideration. There are other levels of appeal, including filing suit in federal court if lower appeals prove unsuccessful.

Aug 09

Massachusetts Car Accident Lawyer: Assigned Claims Plan

            Massachusetts car accident lawyers understand that the Massachusetts laws regarding automobile insurance create a no-fault scheme designed to allow an insured to recover from his or her insurer after an accident regardless of the allocation of fault. Personal injury protection, or PIP, benefits are often available to compensate injured victims for any losses they sustain, however, there are times when an injured person may be left without access to any PIP benefits after an accident.

            For these times when there are no available PIP benefits, the state legislature has authorized the creation of an Assigned Claims Plan to provide assistance. Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90, Section 34N,

Insurers authorized to provide personal injury protection in this commonwealth are hereby directed to organize and maintain an assigned claims plan to provide that any person … other than the owner … of a motor vehicle not insured by a policy … providing personal injury protection … who suffers … an injury arising out of the … use of a motor vehicle … may obtain personal injury protection benefits through said plan in any case where no personal injury protection benefits are otherwise available … [T]he following shall not be entitled to such benefits:
(1) a person entitled to payments or benefits under the provisions of chapter one hundred and fifty-two, or
(2) a person who is subject to exclusion from personal injury protection benefits by insurers under section thirty-four A of this chapter …

            The Automobile Insurers Bureau of Massachusetts, a longstanding organization which has provided various important services to the auto insurance industry in Massachusetts since 1925, explains this statute as follows:

…[T]he assigned claims plan offers PIP coverage to individuals who may have been in an accident, but don’t have access to an auto policy. These may include non-auto owning pedestrians, or even guest occupants in an uninsured vehicle.

            An experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyer can analyze the facts of your particular situation and best explain the circumstances under which a person might be eligible to take advantage of the assigned claims plan. Although designed to be a fail-safe for when there is no PIP, there are still times when even the assigned claims plan will be inapplicable and a party will be left only with the option to file a lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court to recover for damages.

Aug 07

Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer: Pedestrian Safety

            The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a government organization that is dedicated to serving the public through research, investigation and education of issues that relate to driving and vehicular safety. Recently, as seen in an August Press Release, NHTSA has begun a new campaign called “Everyone is a Pedestrian” that aims to increase awareness of the dangers that affect pedestrians in crowded cities. As RI personal injury attorneys know, pedestrian accidents can result in significant injuries and death, among other disastrous consequences. Pedestrian accidents are far more likely to result in brain and other serious injuries than many other types of accidents.

            The initiative is undertaken in conjunction with the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration as a response to an increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities that has occurred over the last two years. Despite an overall reduction in injuries and deaths to pedestrians over the last decade, NHTSA claims that “[o]n average a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes.”

            The new initiative presents a wealth of research and statistics compiled by various government agencies that paints a picture of the recent trends in pedestrian accidents. It further directs people to additional resources that can enhance their understanding of the public safety concerns that many large cities and towns in the United States are facing. The organizations are accepting applications for several two million dollar grants that states will be able to use for education and enforcement efforts related to pedestrian safety.

            RI car accident attorneys frequently advocate for pedestrian safety as a way to decrease the incidence of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, these accidents still frequently occur. For those who have experienced injury after a pedestrian accident, utilizing the services of an experienced local attorney is perhaps the best way to aid in understanding the laws that govern pedestrian accident cases in our state.

Aug 02

RI Workers’ Compensation Attorney: Who Must Carry Insurance?

            The Rhode Island workers’ compensation system is designed to be an efficient way for injured workers to receive the medical treatment they need after experiencing an injury so that they can return to work as quickly as possible. Frequently, RI workers’ compensation attorneys receive questions about whether their particular employer is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

            In Rhode Island, the law is one of universal coverage. This means that all employers are required to provide this insurance. RI General Laws Section 28-29-6 states that

[e]very person, firm, and private corporation, including any public service corporation, including the state, that regularly employs employees in the same business or in or about the same establishment under any contract of hire, express or implied, and a city or town in this state that votes to accept the provisions of those chapters in the manner provided shall constitute an employer subject to the provisions of chapters 29 – 38 of this title. 

            Notwithstanding this universal coverage, there are a few notable exceptions. RI General Laws Section 28-29-5 provides that the provisions of the state work comp act do not apply in certain circumstances. According to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, some of these exemptions include

… sole proprietors, partners, and independent contractors. Certain real estate, agricultural and domestic service employees may be exempt.  Any person who was appointed a corporate officer between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2001, and was not previously an employee of the corporation is exempt, but can elect to be covered …

            Rhode Island work comp lawyers understand the issues that may arise after a worker experiences an injury on the job and can assist an employee in understanding if he or she is eligible for benefits under the comp system while facilitating the legal process in an effort to achieve efficient results.

Jul 31

RI Boating Accident Lawyer: Recent Boating Accident

            The dangers of drinking and driving are widely known thanks to the efforts of various public agencies who work hard to bring awareness to this serious public safety matter. Statistics are frequently published and show the current trends and successes of the numerous campaigns aimed at reducing the number of injuries and deaths that result from drinking and driving.

            Similarly, drinking and boating is an equally dangerous concern that RI boating accident lawyers frequently encounter. The consequences of this dangerous behavior are the same as for drunk drivers.  There are significant criminal and civil penalties that could attach after an incident of this type.

            WPRI News recently reported on a drunk boating arrest where a Portsmouth woman caused a collision with another boat in Newport, RI. State police caught the woman attempting to flee the accident scene and arrested her after she failed several field sobriety tests.

            Aside from the criminal penalties, such as arrest, fines, and jail time, there are also several additional consequences which may arise from state civil law. RI personal injury lawyers may be called upon to prosecute an action for damages in RI Superior Court to recover for harm caused after a boating accident.

            Recognizing the seriousness of the issue of boating safety, the state legislature has passed laws, including the RI Alcohol Boating Safety Act, in conjunction with various agencies that promote boating safety and encourage stiffer penalties for those who violate the law. These efforts have resulted in fewer deaths in the state’s waterways over recent years and hopefully these positive results will continue into the future.

Jul 26

RI Slip and Fall Lawyer: State and Municipal Liability

            A recent RI Supreme Court case that was decided earlier this month discusses some issues that RI premises liability lawyers frequently see in the practice of law. Understanding the RI statutory scheme related to the interaction between the state and municipal authorities regarding a certain premises is crucial to success at both the trial court and appellate court levels. An experienced RI slip and fall lawyer will prepare your case for presentation before a jury in RI Superior Court and ensure that any potential delays are anticipated in order to allow for the quick and efficient resolution of your case.

            In the 2013 RI Supreme Court case of Lombardi v. Providence, et al., No 2012-86-Appeal, the plaintiff tripped on a sidewalk in the city of Providence, and sustained personal injuries. The plaintiff’s RI slip and fall lawyer served the city with the appropriate notice required by RI Gen. Laws Section 45-15-5 and eventually filed suit against two defendants: the city of Providence and the State of Rhode Island for negligent failure to maintain or repair the sidewalk where the plaintiff fell.

            In the trial court, the case against the city was dismissed after the city argued that it did not owe a duty to the plaintiff because the state was responsible for maintaining and repairing the sidewalk under, inter alia, RI Gen. Laws Section 24-8-9, which regulates the construction and maintenance of state roads, and states:

The director of transportation shall have the power and authority to alter, to maintain, to keep in good condition, to remove ice and snow therefrom, to remove posts, steps and any other obstructions therein, to regulate the placement, structure, and alteration of curbs constructed adjacent to state roads, to regulate the height, size, and shape of awnings, signs, and any other structures which project over all curbs and all sidewalks now constructed, in the process of construction or to be constructed on state roads; except, on portion or portions of state roads in cities or towns where the territory contiguous thereto is closely built up.

            This case shows that there are circumstances where the state can assume full legal responsibility for a roadway in a certain municipality. Understanding the proper parties who may be responsible after a slip and fall is a necessary step before filing a lawsuit. In most circumstances, using the services of a RI personal injury lawyer can be highly beneficial.

Jul 24

Rhode Island Dog Bite Lawyer: Dog Bite Injuries

            Rhode Island personal injury lawyers understand the law regarding dog bite cases and can assist victims in obtaining compensation after experiencing injuries due to a dog bite. The complexity of the legal issues surrounding these cases frequently depends upon the location in which the tort occurs.

            The law relevant to this issue is RI General Laws Section 4-13-16, which states that an owner is liable for damages when a dog bites “any person while travelling the highway or out of the enclosure of the owner.” Thus, dog bite cases generally fall into one of two categories: bites inside the enclosure and bites outside of the enclosure. Strict liability applies to outside the enclosure cases. Bites that occur inside the enclosure are met with a higher standard, the common law “one-bite rule.” A victim must show that the owner knew of the dog’s vicious propensities.

            Unfortunately, the question of whether or not an attack occurred within the enclosure is a difficult one. An enclosure is defined in the statute as a

“fence or structure of at least six feet (6’) in height, forming or causing an enclosure suitable to prevent the entry of young children, and suitable to confine a vicious dog in conjunction with other measures which may be taken by the owner or keeper, such as tethering of the vicious dog. The enclosure shall be securely enclosed and locked and designed with secure sides, top, and bottom and shall be designed to prevent the animal from escaping from the enclosure.”

This definition is very specific and gives the impression that the enclosure must be a physical barrier designed to keep the dog confined. However, case law has developed over the years and interpreted the statutory law and the meaning of enclosure. These cases clarify that the enclosure need not be a physical barrier, and serves mainly as a form of notice to individuals on the property rather than a way to contain the dog. In the recent case of Carreiro v. Tobin, et al., 66 A.3d 820 (R.I. 2013), the plaintiff’s RI dog bite lawyer argued that a second floor apartment could be a separate enclosure for dog bite purposes. There, the dog was owned by the first floor tenant and the victim was injured in the second floor apartment. The court held that whether the second floor was an enclosure was a question of material fact for the lower court to decide.

Jul 19

Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyer: Due Care for Emergency Vehicles

            The typical work performed by first responders and other emergency personnel is hindered by serious time constraints. In recognition of the need to respond quickly to emergency situations, the law allows for certain vehicles the designation of emergency vehicle. When operating as an emergency vehicle, the driver is allowed certain privileges that would normally constitute a traffic violation for any ordinary vehicle. Unfortunately, RI car accident lawyers are sometimes called upon to pursue an action for negligent operation of an emergency vehicle which has resulted in some harm or injury.

            Rhode Island law has acknowledged the need for special privileges applicable to emergency vehicle drivers. See RI General Laws Section 31-12-6 et seq. Our state’s current law is modeled after guidelines published by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws & Ordinances, a respected organization which has promoted uniform laws across the country in past years.

            Specifically regarding police vehicles, § 31-12-6 calls for the adoption of uniform rules and regulations that will govern high speed pursuits by police officers in accordance with nationally prominent standards. In the meantime, each individual department must maintain an active policy regarding police use of emergency vehicles and high speed pursuits. This means that different cities and towns may have differing policies and therefore varying duties to the public. In recognition of the difficulties that this may present, the  RI Law enforcement Accreditation Commission was set up to establish a uniform series of laws the can be used throughout the state for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

            As RI personal injury lawyers understand, despite the privileges allowed for emergency vehicles, a driver is not relieved of an obligation to drive safely and responsibly. Rhode Island has clarified this in RI General Laws Section 31-12-9, stressing the “duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons” and that a negligent driver will be held responsible for the “consequences of … reckless disregard for the safety of others.” 

Jul 16

Rhode Island Dog Bite Lawyer: Recent Dog Bite News Story

            As a firm of local Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, we handle various types of cases, including vicious dog attacks. A victim of a dog attack faces unique circumstances regarding medical treatment and the ensuing course of legal action. An experienced RI dog bite lawyer can advise you as to the current local laws and assist you in obtaining relief after experiencing such an injury.

            The state statute regarding dog attacks is RI General Laws Section 4-13-16, which states

If any dog … assaults, bites, or otherwise injures any person while traveling the highway or out of the enclosure of the owner or keeper of that dog, the owner or keeper of the dog shall be liable to the person aggrieved, for all damage sustained, to be recovered in a civil action, with costs of suit. If afterwards any such damage is done by that dog, the owner or keeper of the dog shall pay to the party aggrieved double the damage … and an order shall be made by the court … for killing the dog … [I]t shall not be necessary, in order to sustain this action, to prove that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that the dog was accustomed to causing this damage.

            WPRI Channel 12 recently reported about a 12 year old boy who was attacked by a pit bull while playing baseball at a local public field. The boy experienced physical injuries including wounds to his extremities that required 36 stitches to close. Authorities later identified the dog owner and captured the dog before discovering that the dog was not up to date on its rabies vaccines. Unfortunately, this meant that the victim in this case would need to endure several rabies vaccinations in addition to the physical and emotional injuries that the attack caused.

            A victim of an attack by an unvaccinated dog must himself undergo the unpleasant experience of rabies immunization. The National Network for Immunization Information states the facts related to rabies. If not vaccinated, an infected person will likely die. The vaccination process takes several weeks and several rounds of injections. Luckily, with immediate vaccination, the harmful effects of rabies can be virtually eliminated. In fact, very few people die annually from rabies.

Jul 15

How Safe Driving Can Save You Money

Safe driving is a smart choice for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it can save lives and reduce injuries. Any Michigan drivers license attorney knows that traffic accidents resulting in injuries are often caused by common traffic violations like speeding and proceeding through red lights. But there are additional reasons why you should drive safely: it can save you a significant amount of money.

Safe driving that reduces traffic accidents can save you money in a couple of ways. First, most drivers carry deductibles on damage to their vehicle. Avoiding traffic accidents means you don’t have to pay out your deductible, which is often substantial. Furthermore, accidents often result in higher insurance premiums because your insurance company views you as a higher risk driver. Avoiding traffic accidents can therefore help to maintain reasonable insurance rates.

Traffic tickets can result in significant short-term and long-term costs. If you decide to fight your ticket, you may wish to hire an attorney, which will cost you. What’s more, even if your ticket is reduced, you’ll often have to pay a fine. And finally, traffic ticket convictions are usually reported to the Secretary of State or Department of Motor Vehicles. For example, any Michigan license lawyer knows that tickets are reported on your driving record. This information is public and from time to time will often be viewed by your insurance company. If your insurance company sees that you have incurred traffic tickets, it may view you as a higher risk driver and therefore, increase your insurance rates substantially. Of course, all of these costs can be avoided by practicing safe driving habits.

Incurring too many traffic tickets can result in a suspended license. Safe driving can reduce violations and help to avoid the cost associated with Michigan drivers license restration.

The bottom line is that safe driving is smart and can save you money.