The Answers You Need for the Questions You’re Forced to Ask

One of the worst aspects of pursuing a case—whether you’re fighting for injury compensation or trying to settle a divorce—is not knowing what to expect. Before you get yourself knee deep in the details of your case allow us to answer some of your questions first. We’ll help you be more fully prepared and more confident as you move forward.

  • Page 1
  • Is my job protected while I’m receiving workers’ compensation?

    When a person is injured at work and receiving benefits, they may wonder if their job is protected and will be there when they return. While most people understand that workers’ comp continues to pay a salary and provide healthcare to an employee who was injured on the job, they may not know if their job will still be waiting for them after they recover.

    Warwick Workers' Compensation Lawyer Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbayum

    Workers’ Comp Rules for Job Reinstatement

    In many states, workers’ comp only provides salary and healthcare benefits during the time an injured worker is off work and does not require an employer to guarantee the job will be there when the employee returns. In Rhode Island, however, business owners are required to reinstate an injured worker to their former job for up to one year from the day that worker was injured, even if another worker was hired to take over for the injured worker. 

    Even with this legal protection in place, many employers and their insurance companies may use the promise of settlements, the confusing complexity of the system, or even the threat of a prolonged court battle to prevent workers who were injured on the job from returning to their former position. For those employees who hope to return to work following an injury, there are some important things to be aware of:

    Providing evidence of injury.

    One way employers and insurance companies attempt to prevent a worker from returning to their previous job following an injury is to argue that the injury was not the result of a work-related incident, or the injury was not severe enough to prevent the worker from doing their job. For this reason, it is important that workers protect themselves by informing their employer and seeking medical attention immediately following any serious injury at work. By doing this, medical records can provide evidence of your injury and establish a connection between your injury and your work. In addition, it is expensive for employers and their insurance companies to provide workers’ comp, so they may pressure an injured worker to return before their doctor has approved them for work, but doing so may forfeit continued protection if the injury worsens over time. Do not try to “work through the pain” or return to work against your doctor’s advice.

    Understanding MOA vs NPA.

    When a worker has been injured on the job and cannot return to work, the employer and their insurance company may offer workers’ compensation through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or a Non-Prejudicial Agreement (NPA), but these two types of workers’ comp are very different. With an MOA, the employer and their insurance company accept full responsibility for the injury and legally commit to provide the worker with continued salary and medical treatment. An NPA, however, allows an employer to pay workers’ compensation without accepting responsibility for the injury for up to thirteen weeks. Because they have not accepted responsibility, the employer can cancel these benefits at any time and deny the worker their right to return to work until forced to by the courts.

    Obtaining reasonable accommodations.

    Some on-the-job accidents may be so severe, the injured worker may no longer be able to fulfill all of the duties of their previous job. Employers or their insurance companies sometimes use the limited mobility/strength of an injured employee as a reason to deny them access to their former position, but the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make all “reasonable accommodations” which would allow an employee to complete their assigned duties. Accommodations may include changing the work environment, providing adaptive equipment, sharing or assigning responsibilities, and even allowing for additional time off from work, but it may take legal pressure on an employer to secure these accommodations.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In  Rhode Island?

    If you've been hurt at work you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help work injury victims in Providence, Cranston and all areas of Rhode Island.

     

  • Who’s responsible for a car crash when it’s raining?

    It is one of the first things drivers learn: when road conditions are wet, they need to be extra careful. Even so, every year thousands of drivers on the roads in Rhode Island will experience a collision during a rainstorm. While some accidents will cause little or no damage, severe collisions during bad weather can result in serious injuries and even death. 

    Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum

    Stormy Weather Increases Risk Of Rhode Island Car Accidents

    Driving when it’s raining requires extra vigilance. Water on the road can create slick conditions as the rain mixes with mud, oil, and other elements on the road’s surface, causing tires to lose traction. When a moving car encounters standing water on the road, the tires may begin to hydroplane, actually losing contact with the pavement. This is especially true if you’re driving at high speeds, but city streets and even parking lots can be affected. Additionally, rainstorms can blur visibility, making it more difficult to see other cars or recognize hazards.

    Stormy Weather Is No Excuse To Be Hurt In A Car Accident

    Although rain can affect road conditions, it isn’t often that “bad weather” can be used as a defense following a car accident that occurred while it was raining. All motorists have what is called a “duty of care” to others while on the roads of Rhode Island. They are expected to follow traffic laws, but the duty of care further requires people to drive attentively, observe and evaluate road conditions, and take reasonable precautions to prevent an accident.

    Even if a collision happens during a rainstorm, a driver is expected to adjust their driving to fit the weather conditions. Additionally, if they fail to reasonably maintain their car for inclement weather, that individual cannot claim the rain caused their accident. Some common ways drivers fail to take the weather into consideration include:

    Driving too fast.

    Because the risk of hydroplaning increases as speeds increase, a driver who is moving too fast can cause an accident on wet roads. Even if the car is travelling at the posted speed limit, if that speed is unsafe for current road conditions, motorists are required to slow down.

    Driving too close.

    Rain not only affects traction while driving, it affects cars as they attempt to slow or come to a stop. Even when driving the speed limit, a car driving too close to the car in front of them may not be able to stop in time on wet pavement. If a driver does not provide that extra space for braking during the rain, they may be held responsible when they rear-end the car in front of them.

    Driving while impaired.

    Using drugs or alcohol while driving a car is dangerous in any type of weather, but especially when it’s raining. An impaired driver has slower reaction times, may become distracted or tired, or find it difficult to control the vehicle, and all of these are dangerous when road conditions are slick or visibility is decreased.

    Driving an unsafe vehicle.

    There are many safety features on a car that protect drivers during the rain: windshield wipers aid visibility; good tires improve traction; and exterior lights help drivers see and avoid other cars. If a driver does not maintain their vehicle— driving on bald tires or without wipers in good working condition— they can be held responsible when their negligent maintenance leads to an accident or injury.

    What To Do After Your Rhode Island Car Accident

    When an accident during a rainstorm causes serious injury or death, a negligent driver, their lawyer, and their insurance company may attempt to use the road conditions as a defense for why their client should not be held responsible, or to shift some of the blame to the victim in order to avoid paying for medical treatment or a costly settlement. To prevent that from happening, and to secure full and fair compensation for their injuries, victims need to have an experienced attorney fighting by their side.

    Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak to an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help accident victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.

     

  • How will my lost income be compensated by workers’ comp?

    Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Lawyers Kirshenbaum & KirshenbaumWhen you’re injured on the job and are unable to work for a period of time, you may wonder if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits and how much of your lost income will be paid back to you. 

    Workers’ Compensation Medical Benefits in Rhode Island

    RI workers’ comp covers all medical treatment that is reasonable and necessary as it relates to your work injury. Once medical benefits are awarded for an RI work injury, you receive them without monetary or time limitations. These benefits can include payment for:

    • Medical expenses, including surgery, specific medical procedures, labs, radiology, and hospital and doctor bills
    • Medications
    • Assistive devices and equipment

    You’ll also be reimbursed for your mileage to and from your medical appointments.

    Additionally, mental injuries that are caused by excessive emotional stress or physical injury are also covered; however, you would not likely receive coverage for nervousness or stress due to a yearly review or a critical presentation or meeting.

    Disability Benefits

    Along with medical benefits, an injured worker may also qualify for disability benefits. Typically, an employee who is unable to work because of his injury is entitled to “wage replacement benefits equal to 75% of their average spendable weekly wage.” Workers’ comp calculates this number using a formula that factors in your average weekly wages, marital status, and the number of your dependents. RI workers’ comp sets a maximum weekly comp rate for these benefits each year.

    You can receive partial disability benefits if you are able to return to work, but your injury causes you to earn less than you were making originally. Benefits for partial disability are “75% of the difference between your spendable base wage before you were injured and your earning capacity after your injury.” Generally, you can receive these benefits for up to 312 weeks. Once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), your benefits may be reduced to “70% of the difference in your earnings.”

    Why You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney In Rhode Island

    If you’ve suffered an injury at work, the legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you get the compensation you are owed—and we only collect payment after your benefits are approved. 

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In  Rhode Island?

    If you've been hurt at work you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help work injury victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.

     

  • How do strong emotions cause distracted driving?

    Most drivers are aware that they shouldn’t drink while behind the wheel or text while driving. These behaviors factor into a growing number of vehicle accidents. But many don’t realize how strong emotions can affect their ability to drive safely. In a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, it’s reported that a person’s driving performance can be seriously impacted if they experience strong emotions while behind the wheel. The study states that someone who drives while they are angry, agitated, sad or crying, and even excited are 10 times more likely to get in a crash.

    Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyer Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum

    How Emotions Affect Drivers

    It seems logical that emotions such as anger and sadness could negatively impact a person’s driving performance. However, research shows that feeling happy or excited while driving can be just as distracting and dangerous. This is because both positive and negative emotions not only affect people mentally and physically, they also help drive behavior. When you experience strong negative emotions, you may make poor choices or use bad judgment. When you experience strong positive emotions, you may be distracted and inattentive because your thoughts are elsewhere.

    Take Steps to Minimize Strong Emotions While Driving

    Cool down.

    If you need a minute to calm down, pull over and take a momentary break. This can be especially helpful if you are feeling angry or upset. It’s important to get your emotions under control before returning to the road.

    Sideline your emotions.

    It’s common for people to feel worried or stressed, especially on their way to and from work. You may have an important business meeting you’re concerned about or feel anxious about issues at home. When you become distracted by these types of thoughts, turn on the radio or make a point of shaking loose from any mental concerns that may interfere with your driving. Sideline these emotions by telling yourself you can think about them when you have stopped the car.

    Aovid being late.

    Many drivers feel frustrated and impatient because they fear being late or stuck in traffic when they need to arrive at their destination at a specific time. If you leave early and allow extra time to get where you need to go, you can help reduce the desire to drive faster or take risks that could cause an accident.

    Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak to an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help accident victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.

     

  • What is the maximum amount of workers' compensation I can get?

    Injured employees often struggle after a work accident and need all of the insurance benefits they are entitled to in order to make ends meet. However, insurers will not have your best interests at heart, and you may need an attorney to help you recover the maximum payment allowed under the law. Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Attorney Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum

    Maximum Benefits Allowed Under Workers’ Compensation

    Rhode Island workers’ compensation law imposes a maximum limit on the amount of weekly benefits an employee can collect. The maximum rate changes every year and is set by the RI Department of Labor and Training. As of October 2020, the maximum rate is $1,304 per week.

    It’s important to note that your benefit amount could be affected by:

    The percentage of your average weekly wage (AWW).

    Your wage statement will be used to calculate the amount of your weekly compensation benefits. For scheduled injuries, workers are owed two-thirds of their AWW, but the percentage of AWW for unscheduled injuries may vary.

    Dependency benefits.

    Dependents of workers who are considered totally disabled due to a work injury may collect an additional $15 per dependent each week. However, the injured worker’s compensation rate plus the amount of dependency benefits cannot be more than 80% of the worker’s total AWW.

    Death benefits.

    If the work-related injury results in an employee’s death, surviving relatives may collect weekly payments of $40 per dependent in addition to the deceased employee’s weekly benefits. Weekly death benefits will be paid based on the greater of the worker’s wages at the time of death or the rate paid based on total incapacitation.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In  Rhode Island?

    If you've been hurt at work you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help work injury victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.

     

  • What is a parenting plan?

    A parenting plan is a legal document that clearly describes how the parents will divide custody of shared children after a divorce. All couples who have a child together must create a detailed parenting plan that governs custody arrangements until the child comes of age. Rhode Island Divorce & Child Custody Attorney Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum

    What to Include in Your Parenting Plan

    Parenting plans focus on much more than just questions of joint custody and sole custody. Instead, they create a framework for co-parenting and for solving child-related problems together after divorce. These plans usually include provisions for physical custody as well as legal custody and must be structured in a way that is in the best interests of the child.

    A parenting plan should provide a clear guide to:

    • Which days and the length of time the child will spend with each parent every year
    • How summer and winter holidays will be spent with each parent / grandparent (including travel times, and who is responsible for transport)
    • Dates and times of child pick-up and drop-off (and which parent is responsible for transport)
    • Visitation schedules for parents and extended family members without custody
    • Extracurricular activities for each child, and who will pay these costs
    • Observance or preservation of the family’s (or child’s) religious beliefs
    • Protocol for handling any cancellations or postponements of custody
    • Protocol for traveling out of state with the child
    • Who will make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, education, health, and social issues
    • Instructions for a child’s special medical or educational needs
    • How the child will be disciplined or rewarded for their behavior
    • How the parties will work out disagreements about the child

    Do You Need To Speak To A Rhode Island Family Law Attorney?

    If  you need to speak with an experienced Rhode Island divorce family law attorney  please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help divorce clients in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.

     

  • Can a trucking company be liable for an employee’s distracted driving?

    While any driver can be drawn into a phone conversation or a text exchange, truckers are at a higher risk of distraction due to the nature of the work they do and the amount of time spent behind the wheel. When a truck driver is distracted, you may wonder if they are solely to blame for the crash, or if the trucking company is part of the problem. 

    Rhode Island Truck Accident Lawyer Kirshenbaum and Kirshenbaum

    Employer Liability for Distracted Truck and Delivery Drivers

    If a trucking company is found to be partially liable for your collision, you may be owed compensation for your medical bills and losses under the commercial carrier’s insurance policy.

    An employer might share liability if the accident involved:

    Hands-free devices.

    Employers may provide truckers with hands-free systems or accessories with wireless technology to make and take calls. An attorney can investigate whether these accessories were provided by the company, and whether they were working properly at the time of the crash.

    Outdated equipment.

    The GPS and radio equipment in the truck’s cab could be inherently distracting. For example, CB radios require the use of one hand when speaking, potentially violating Rhode Island’s hands-free law. If the communications equipment is outdated or hasn’t been properly maintained, the trucking company may share liability for the crash.

    Workflow problems.

    A driver may have no choice but to consult the GPS, radio for help, or use electronics while driving if the employer has not created a protocol to address common problems on the road.

    Company policies.

    Employers may be encouraging distracting behaviors or failing to provide reasonably safe alternatives. For example, company records may show that company policy prohibits cell phone use while driving, but witnesses may attest that truckers are not allowed to pull over before answering a call.

    Have You Been Involved In A Rhode Island Truck Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a truck accident you need to speak to an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help truck accident victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.

     

  • What is a child custody evaluation?

    When parents divorce, they may not agree on who should have primary custody of the child. In order to determine where the child will be raised, the court may order a child custody evaluation for one or both parents. It is important that you are well-prepared for the evaluation, since the assessment they make can determine who should have custody or

    how the parents will divide custodyRhode Island Child Custody Lawyer Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum

    How to Prepare for a Child Custody Evaluation In Rhode Island

    The evaluator is someone with professional experience in child welfare and has only one goal in mind: deciding what is best for the child. They will visit your home, ask questions, and speak with your child to get an idea of your daily life. After the evaluator has reported their findings to the judge, the judge will use the information to make a final ruling in the custody hearing on where the child will live.

    In order to make a good impression during the evaluation, you should:

    Be honest.

    You may be asked difficult questions about your parenting style and personal relationships, as well as respond to comments or concerns made by your ex-spouse. It’s vital to answer questions honestly and avoid misrepresenting anything about the child’s home life—even if you think it could benefit your case.

    Make your child comfortable.

    You should let your child know someone will be coming to the house to ask questions, and they should act normally while the evaluator is there. Don’t coach or prompt your child to lie. Evaluators are skilled at observing interactions between parents and children, and they are trained to recognize when a child has been coached or is uneasy about responding.

    Provide good references.

    You will be asked for a list of references who will be contacted for follow-up interviews. Make sure you choose a good mix of family and friends who can attest to your ability to provide a safe and happy home.

    Do You Need To Speak To A Rhode Island Family Law Attorney?

    If  you need to speak with an experienced Rhode Island divorce family law attorney  please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help divorce clients in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.

     

  • Who is at fault for a car accident in foggy weather?

    Fog is a deadly weather condition because it reduces visibility and alters a driver’s perception of distance and speed. A driver’s inability to differentiate between moving and stationary objects can cause an accident, and victims may suffer injuries and/or a long-term disability that affect their lives for years. Accidents in foggy weather

    Liability for a Car Accident in Fog

    When you’re a victim in a crash case, it’s your responsibility to prove the at-fault driver’s negligence—and fog and other weather conditions can make it difficult to prove liability. While drivers can’t be held responsible for the weather, they have a duty to take all necessary precautions to stay safe on the road.

    The other driver could be liable for your medical bills and injury costs if they did not adjust their driving in dense fog conditions. For example, a driver could he negligent if they were:

    • Speeding. Speeding is deadly even on a sunny day but can cause havoc when visibility is reduced. Traveling too fast for conditions decreases the distance between vehicles and makes it more difficult to stop safely. Since posted speed limits apply to ideal weather conditions, the driver that struck you could still have been traveling too fast even if they were obeying the speed limit.
    • Failing to increase visibility. Standard headlights can reflect off the moisture in the air, making visibility in foggy conditions worse. A driver could be negligent if they were not using the car’s fog lights or low-beam headlights or if their taillights and brake lights were not working properly.
    • Failing to exercise due caution. Travel during low-visibility conditions should be restricted to necessary trips on well-known roads. If the driver who struck you was taking an unknown route, had no cause to be driving, or was taking any unnecessary risks, they may be found liable for negligence.

    If you were hurt in a crash, it will take an experienced car accident attorney to prove that you are not to blame and collect the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can answer your questions and fight on your behalf—and you won’t pay any attorney fees if your case is not successful. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with an injury lawyer.

     

  • Can I accrue paid vacation time while on workers’ comp?

    Most employees are not eligible to accrue paid time off (PTO) while receiving Rhode Island workers’ compensation benefits for temporary total disability (TTD). However, there is nothing preventing you from using your existing holiday pay, vacation hours, or other forms of PTO to supplement your benefits while out on workers’ compensation leave. Accruing vacation on workers' comp Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum

    Using Paid Time Off While On Workers' Comp

    The amount paid by workers’ compensation will be less than your usual paycheck, but you can use paid sick leave while drawing your weekly benefits. However, any sick time used will be subject to state and federal taxes, as well as any other deductions made in your normal paycheck.

    For example, injured workers could use PTO:

    During the waiting period.

    Rhode Island imposes a three-day waiting period before injured workers can begin drawing workers' compensation weekly benefits. Using three days of sick leave can be especially helpful in the first days after an injury.

    While recovering.

    After you are placed on workers' compensation leave, you may use PTO or sick leave to supplement your benefits. Keep in mind that your combined benefits and PTO cannot exceed your regular (pre-injury) base pay.

    When starting back at work.

    If you earn wages from your current employer while on workers’ compensation, you should accrue vacation hours at the same rate you normally would if you were working full-time. In addition, you will accrue PTO on any normal hours worked as you return to your former employment.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In  Rhode Island?

    If you've been hurt at work you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help work injury victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.