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.
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Are part-time employees eligible for workers’ compensation?
In Rhode Island, employees are eligible for workers’ compensation even if they do not work a standard 40-hour workweek. A part-time employee (someone who typically works less than 20 hours per week) is owed the full amount of necessary medical payment for his injuries, as well as a living accommodation based on his Average Weekly Wage (AWW).
Workers’ Compensation Considerations for Part-Time Workers
To calculate an injured part-time worker’s AWW, insurers are required to calculate earnings for the 26 consecutive weeks prior to the date of incapacity (not including the week of injury or the week of hire). If an employee works multiple part-time jobs, the AWW will be calculated based on wages earned from all employers for 26 weeks prior to injury.
Although wage calculations may differ slightly for other types of employees, being a part-time worker does not affect eligibility for workers’ compensation. In general, you will qualify for medical and wage loss benefits through workers’ compensation if you:
- Are an employee. As long as you are considered an employee rather than an independent contractor, it does not matter whether you are a full-time, part-time, or seasonal worker.
- Were injured in the scope of employment. Only injuries that have been sustained “in the course and scope of employment” will be covered by workers’ compensation. This can include a wide range of occupational injuries such as a sudden accident, repeated physical strain or trauma, or an illness caused by the conditions of the work environment.
- Have been out of work for at least three days. The Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Act states that an insurer does not have to pay any wage losses for the first three consecutive days post-injury. However, the insurer is still liable for any medical expenses related to the injury incurred on those days.
If you are unable to work because of an injury on the job, the attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can examine the details of your case, answer your questions, and help you through your next steps. To speak with a member of our team, simply fill out the online contact form on this page.
If I live in Rhode Island, does it matter where I file for divorce?
There are two considerations when it comes to choosing where to file for divorce: where each spouse lives and which spouse will be requesting the divorce. If you are seeking a no-fault divorce on the grounds that you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for at least three years, at least one of you must meet Rhode Island residency requirements in order for the divorce to be legal.
Where to File a Divorce Complaint in Rhode Island
If you could potentially file in two different counties, it is a good idea to consult with a divorce attorney before you complete and serve the paperwork. Each county is allowed to make its own rules about how divorce cases are handled, and each jurisdiction will have its own backlog of cases that could mean longer wait times for you and your spouse. An experienced attorney can tell you if there are any advantages or disadvantages for filing in each county, as well as what to expect after you file.
As a Rhode Island resident, you could potentially file a divorce complaint in:
- The county where you live. Your home county is the county of your primary residence. If you have more than one residence, the court will consider your primary residence to be the address on your driver’s license and car registration.
- The county where your spouse lives. Your spouse may file for divorce in the county where he resides, if he meets this domicile requirement.
- Providence County. If your spouse meets the domicile requirement but you do not, you may file with the Family Court in Providence County. However, your spouse must actually be served with the Summons and Complaint for Divorce in order to meet jurisdictional requirements.
At Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum, we work to make the dissolution of your marriage as painless as possible. Let our attorneys advise you on your next steps and help you make choices during your divorce that can protect your future. Please get in touch with our legal team today via our online contact form.
I was hurt during my break, in the lunchroom, or at a company picnic. Could I have a workers’ comp claim?
An employer’s insurance company is compelled to cover any employee injuries that happen in the normal course of the workday. However, it may also be liable for injuries that are not so straightforward, such as when an employee is on a break, drinking alcohol, or miles away from the workplace.
Workers’ Compensation for Injuries Outside of Normal Working Hours
Rhode Island laws generally allow employees to collect workers’ compensation for any injuries suffered “in the course of employment.” This definition is extremely broad and allows for the majority of injuries to qualify for medical costs and lost wages as long as there is a causal link between employment and injury.
For example, employees may be owed workers’ compensation for injuries that were sustained:
- On the employer’s premises. An injury on a lunch break may be considered work-related if it happens on employer-owned grounds (such as in a dedicated break room or cafeteria).
- In close proximity to the job site. While an employee’s daily commute is usually not covered by workers’ compensation, workers may collect benefits if they are hurt while walking into or out of the workplace. If you were injured just before or just after your shift (such as in the parking lot or sidewalk), you are likely still covered.
- At a work-sponsored event. In many cases, employee intoxication is an exception to workers’ compensation coverage. However, if alcohol was provided by the employer—such as at a party, mandatory work event, or lunch with a client at a restaurant—the employer may be liable for the costs of injury despite the worker’s intoxication.
- Over several months or years. If a stroke, heart attack, or panic attack occurred on your day off, you may still collect workers’ compensation if your job contributed to high stress levels, anxiety, or physical and mental exhaustion.
- While not fully released from job duties. Even if you had clocked out and were away from the worksite, you may be covered for an injury if you were picking up lunch for others or running an errand for the employer (such as buying additional supplies on a busy day) while on your own lunch break.
If you are unable to work because of an injury on the job, the attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can examine the details of your case, answer your questions, and help you through your next steps. To speak with a member of our team, simply fill out the online contact form on this page or call us toll-free at (888) 591-9976.
What should I do if a loved one died in an accident?
If you have experienced a tragic loss in your life, we are truly sorry. Losing a loved one is a terrible and traumatic event under any circumstances, but a sudden death caused by negligence can completely overwhelm survivors. Unfortunately, there are many parties who will use this time to take advantage of you—potentially ruining your chances of seeking justice for your loved one’s death.
How to Protect Yourself After a Loved One’s Wrongful Death
The best way to ensure you get the closure and compensation you need after the sudden loss of a family member is to speak to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. While friends and relatives may offer to share the burden of filing paperwork and making final arrangements, only a lawyer is equipped to handle the complex legal matters surrounding fatal injury cases.
It is our job to protect you and your family from any further injustices. When we take over your legal case, we only need you to:
- Write down everything you can. When you meet with us, we will need any and all information you have regarding the accident so that we can begin building a strong case. Any police reports, contact information for witnesses, insurance policies, medical bills, or other documents you can provide will help us in getting you all that you deserve.
- Let us deal with the insurance companies. If your loved one was killed in a car crash, you may be contacted by his vehicle insurance provider as well as the at-fault insurance company’s agents. These agents are highly-trained professionals who only have one goal: to reduce the amount of compensation they must pay out. They may record your conversation, send you forms to fill out and sign, or ask you to sign a release of your legal rights before issuing payment. Tell all insurance agents that you have an attorney and that any forms, documents, and contact should come to us.
- Give yourself time to grieve. The most important thing for you to do right now is to stay close to your family for comfort and healing. We remain available to you for questions and keep you updated while you honor your loved one and recover from the loss.
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can answer your questions and advise you on your next steps—and we only charge for our services when and if we secure compensation for you. Contact us today via our online form to schedule your free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
Can I get workers’ comp for a pre-existing condition that was aggravated at work?
It is not uncommon for a worker with a pre-existing injury to be reinjured due to an incident on the job. When this happens, Rhode Island laws allow employees to collect workers’ compensation for a pre-existing injury that has been accelerated or aggravated by workplace conditions. However, these claims tend to be more complicated than others because it may be difficult to separate the previous condition from the current injury.
Pre-Existing Injuries That May Qualify for Workers’ Comp
Insurance companies that provide workers’ compensation benefits will not want to cover an injury if the employer is not liable. For this reason, the insurer may deny coverage if there is more than one cause of injury, forcing the employee to prove that an injury is work-related in order to receive benefits.
Rhode Island workers’ compensation laws allow employees to recover benefits for prior injuries in the following cases:
- An aggravated injury to an impaired part of the body. If you previously suffered a back injury, ankle sprain, broken bone, or other injury before employment, workers’ compensation will not cover treatment for that injury. However, if the injury was made worse as a result your current employment, you may be able to collect benefits to treat the aggravation.
- A re-injury. If you injured a part of your body and collected benefits for that injury through your current employer and then re-injure the same part of your body, the second injury is still covered by workers’ compensation. You should be covered for the full amount of your new medical costs, but your previous awards may be used when calculating the financial amount you receive.
- Illnesses and diseases. Some employees are more at risk of certain illnesses from environmental hazards such as employees with severe allergies. Employees may have a claim for workers’ compensation if workplace hazards caused a flare-up of symptoms or made the extent of the condition worse.
If you are unable to work because of an injury on the job, the attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can examine the details of your case, answer your questions, and help you through your next steps. To speak with a member of our team, simply fill out the online contact form on this page, or give us a call.
How much does a truck accident lawyer cost?
Victims of semi-truck accidents are often hesitant to hire an attorney, assuming that any damages they receive will be lost to the law firm’s legal fees. However, personal injury attorneys who represent truck crash clients typically offer no-win, no-fee guarantees, also known as a contingency arrangement. This allows clients to get the help they need without paying legal expenses up front, and they don’t pay if the lawyer doesn’t win.
Benefits of Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer on a Contingency Basis
Our attorneys believe that victims should not be forced to bear the burden of an accident that was not their fault simply because they cannot afford a lawyer. That is why we do not charge hourly rates to work on personal injury cases. We do not charge for our services until your case is resolved—and if you don't win or settle the case, you will not owe us any fees for representing you.
Our injury attorneys can work with you to make your legal fees affordable by offering:
- Free consultations. Our lawyers always begin truck accident cases with a free initial consultation, for a number of reasons. First, it gives clients an opportunity to get their questions answered without taking on additional costs. Second, we are able to evaluate the facts to identify any potential problems before we agree to take the case. Third, it gives both parties a chance to see if they can work together.
- Advancing court costs. A legal claim may require filing fees, investigations, outside expert testimony, securing medical records and police reports, and other expenses. Our attorneys understand that injury victims may not have the resources to pay for the ongoing costs of a case, so we pay for all court-related costs up front and are reimbursed when your case is over.
- Fees paid after recovery. If your case is successful, our law firm is paid with a portion of your total award or settlement.
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you get payment for your medical bills and lost income after an accident. Contact us today via our online form to schedule your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
Do I need a lawyer to handle my truck accident case?
If you are injured in a crash with a semi-truck, you will most likely be contacted by a representative from the trucking company’s insurance company. The insurance agent may sound apologetic and helpful, encouraging you to accept a quick settlement check. However, once you accept payment, you cannot ask for any more compensation—and you are likely to be underpaid for your suffering without an attorney at your side.
The Value of Speaking to an Attorney After a Truck Accident
It’s important to avoid a fast settlement because it’s often difficult to tell the extent of your injuries immediately after a crash. How you feel in the days following may be vastly different from how you will feel in a month, and your injuries may not be fully healed a year after the accident. You should never settle your case until you know the full extent of your injuries.
There are many ways an attorney can benefit your truck accident case even before a lawsuit is filed. An attorney can:
- Determine whether a settlement is fair. Victims typically have no experience negotiating accident compensation, but insurers have years of experience devaluing claims. An offer that seems fair to you could actually be far less than what you are entitled to. A truck accident attorney has familiarity with the types of injuries a wreck can cause, as well as the types of treatment you may need and the future income you may lose due to a disability.
- Prevent you from making simple mistakes. An insurance adjuster may ask you to give a recorded statement or sign a medical records release in order to proceed with your claim. Many victims assume this is a necessary formality and don’t realize how these may be used as evidence against them. We can ensure that the trucking company has only the information it needs to process the claim, protecting your privacy and your injury case.
- Protect your whole recovery. Rhode Island operates under a pure comparative fault system, meaning your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of your liability. If the trucking company can prove that you were partly to blame for the crash, its insurance company can pay much less in damages. Our legal team can ensure that the trucking company does not unfairly influence the determination of liability, allowing you to recover the full amount of your damages.
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you get payment for your medical bills and lost income after an accident, and we do not charge for our services until your case is resolved. Contact us today via our online form to schedule your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
Does Rhode Island have laws to prevent drugged driving?
It is illegal in every state to drive while under the influence of a mind-altering substance, but Rhode Island has specific statutes prohibiting drugged driving. While state law prohibits drivers from using any controlled substance, instances of drugged driving continue to rise nationwide.
Drugs and Impaired Driving
A survey published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2015 found that over 22% of drivers stopped by police on weekends tested positive for some type of drug, compared to just 8.3% of drivers who tested positive for alcohol.
It’s not only illegal drugs that have the ability to impair drivers. Many different types of drugs can alter a driver’s competence behind the wheel. Here is important information about driving while using any type of drug:
- Illegal narcotics. Methamphetamines, cocaine, and other stimulants can cause drivers to become aggressive or reckless, while opioids and tranquilizers can cause such extreme drowsiness that a driver may fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Marijuana. If an officer suspects that a driver may be under the influence of marijuana, the officer can compel the driver to provide a blood or urine sample for lab testing. If the chemical test reveals any detectable level of marijuana, the driver will be subject to a marijuana DUI and face a $500 fine, driver’s license suspension for up to 18 months, 20 to 60 hours of community service, and up to one year of jail time.
- Prescription medications. Drugs prescribed to treat pain, depression, anxiety, blood pressure, insomnia, diabetes, heart problems, and other conditions can have a variety of side effects that may impact the ability to drive.
- Over-the-counter drugs. People often continue to work with head colds or allergies that they are treating with over-the-counter remedies. However, many of these medications can cause drowsiness, blurred vision, or cognitive problems.
If you were in an accident with a drugged driver, the attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you get payment for your medical bills and lost income—and we do not charge for our services until your case is resolved. Contact us today via our online form to schedule your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
What are the residency requirements when filing for divorce in RI?
Many people believe they must file for divorce in the state where they were married. While this is not true, there are location and time requirements that apply to every couple filing for divorce. If these requirements are not met, the divorce case may be dismissed.
RI Residency Requirements for Divorcing Spouses
Under Rhode Island law, no complaint for divorce will be granted unless the petitioner has lived in Rhode Island for a period of one year before filing. After residency is established, the divorce must be filed in the county in which the filing petitioner resides.
If you have not lived in Rhode Island for at least one year, you have a few options:
- Have your spouse file. If you are on good terms with your spouse and your spouse has been living in Rhode Island longer than you have, he may meet the necessary residency requirements and can file the paperwork instead.
- File in another state. Each state creates its own period of residency for divorce proceedings. If you and your spouse have recently moved from a different state, you may qualify for divorce under that state’s laws.
- Wait. If neither you nor your spouse have lived in Rhode Island for at least one year and do not qualify for divorce in another state, you will have to wait until residency has been established before a complaint can be filed. However, you may begin the process of filling out your documents and paperwork while you are waiting through a period of residency.
At Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum, we take each family law case seriously and work hard to achieve each client's goals. We understand that a fair divorce settlement includes sufficient resources and time with your children, and our attorneys can advise you on your next steps and help you make choices that can protect your future. Please get in touch with our legal team today via our online contact form.
What happens to my workers’ comp benefits if my insurance provider goes bankrupt?
Although most injured employees eventually return to work, the workers’ compensation system provides benefits that could potentially last for the rest of an employee’s life. If your benefits suddenly stop because the insurance company is no longer in business, you still have options. Talking with a workers’ compensation attorney about those options is beneficial for continuing compensation.
Collecting Workers’ Comp After an Insurer Goes Bankrupt
Employees who are receiving permanent partial disability benefits can be forced into serious physical and financial difficulties if an insurer can no longer provide benefits. If your workers' compensation benefits have been suspended due to bankruptcy, you can seek payment through:
- A new insurance provider. According to the law, it is your employer’s responsibility to secure workers’ compensation insurance. If your old insurer has gone out of business, it is the employer’s duty to secure a new policy or self-insure, meaning the company itself would be liable for your injury payments.
- Your employer. If your employer has allowed insurance to lapse and has not secured a new policy, employees can sue the employer directly to recover the costs of an injury. If the employer and insurer have both filed for bankruptcy, employees can seek compensation from the Uninsured Protection Fund.
- The Uninsured Protection Fund. In March, Rhode Island lawmakers passed an amendment to the Rhode Island Uninsured Protection Fund (UPF) guaranteeing injury payments for employees of uninsured employers. The fund provides payment for disability (incapacity) and reimburses the employee for any court costs needed to pursue the case. However, the UPF does not pay for past or future medical expenses, loss of function, or disfigurement.
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can answer your questions and help you through the claims process at no cost to you. To speak with a member of our team, simply fill out the online contact form on this page, or give us a call.