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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Why can accidents with small trucks be as serious as those with a semi truck?
Big rigs traveling at highway speeds aren’t the only source of truck accidents. In fact, pedestrians and motorists may have a higher risk of being struck by box trucks or utility vehicles, especially while traveling on city streets. Although these trucks are often smaller than semis, accidents involving these types of trucks can cause serious injuries. Because owners and drivers are bound by the same federal regulations that govern other commercial trucks, victims in these accidents may hold the owners liable for their injuries.
Small Trucks Can Still Cause Big Injuries
Box trucks, dump trucks, and other heavy-use vehicles may be smaller than tractor-trailers, but all can be difficult to maneuver and may be overloaded with cargo. Additionally, operators of these vehicles are just as likely as semi truck drivers to make deadly truck driver mistakes that can have fatal consequences for other drivers and passengers.
Many Rhode Islanders are injured each year by:
- Delivery trucks. Speeding is a major contributor to delivery truck crashes, as drivers are put under pressure to meet tight deadlines. Delivery truck accidents are especially common on city streets and in parking lots, as a truck driver may not see pedestrians crossing in front or behind the vehicle.
- Ambulances. Ambulances must travel at high speeds in order to save lives, but drivers still have a duty to drive safely and obey traffic laws. A driver who takes a corner too quickly can roll the vehicle, causing injuries to those inside and to other drivers.
- Dump trucks. Because dump truck drivers are often paid by the weight of their load, there is a tendency to overload the trucks. This makes it more difficult for the truck to stop, more likely to roll over, and more apt to release hazardous debris onto the roads. Additionally, drivers may try to increase their pay by making more runs than is safe, which can lead to speeding and driving recklessly.
- Utility trucks. Utility and service trucks may be outfitted with equipment that can affect the balance and maneuverability of the vehicle (such as cranes and lifts). Drivers who are not properly trained in the operation of these vehicles may accidentally strike nearby cars or even cause traffic backups by colliding with low bridges.
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you get payment for your medical bills, lost income, and other expenses after an injury with a small truck, 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 if my spouse does not show up to divorce court?
If you and your spouse are seeking an uncontested divorce, you may not need your spouse to appear in court. As long as you agree on how to resolve all issues related to the marriage (such as custody arrangements, alimony, and division of property) and meet the requirements of a Rhode Island no-fault divorce, the court does not require both spouses to be present in order to grant a divorce.
Proceeding With a Divorce If a Spouse Refuses to Appear in Court
Once paperwork is filed, a court hearing date will be set. If only one spouses appears at the hearing, the divorce may proceed as a “default divorce,” meaning the judge may grant the divorce based on the testimony of the spouse that is present.
In order to proceed with a default divorce, you must ensure that:
- Your spouse was properly notified. If you are the person who requested the divorce, the burden is on you to ensure that filing deadlines are met and your spouse has had every opportunity to participate in the process. This includes filing divorce papers with the family court clerk, serving the divorce papers on your spouse through the sheriff’s office, and filing a copy of the delivery form with the clerk's office to prove that your spouse received a notice of the proceeding. If you have proof that your spouse received the papers, you can proceed with the divorce even if your spouse did not submit a reply.
- You have witnesses to testify on your behalf. You will need to bring at least two witnesses to your hearing who can testify that you have lived in Rhode Island for at least one year and can offer insight as to the reason for the dissolution of the marriage. In particular, the judge may want to know how long you and your spouse have been separated and if you’re still living together.
- All marital property and financial issues have been resolved. Once a divorce order is granted, neither spouse can bring property distribution or alimony cases in the future. For this reason, it is best to consult with a divorce attorney to ensure that you will receive a fair portion of shared assets, debts, and property.
The legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can carefully examine your situation and ask the judge for a divorce settlement that is fair to you. If you need more information on filing for divorce in Rhode Island, please get in touch with us today via our online contact form.
How can I be sure my employer has workers’ compensation insurance?
It is up to each individual employer in Rhode Island to contact an insurance agent and select workers' compensation coverage that meets the requirements of state law. Employees can quickly and easily determine whether an employer has an insurance policy in place or if an employer is non-compliant. Additionally, an employee can report the employer to the Department of Labor & Training.
Exemptions to RI Workers' Compensation Requirements
Under Rhode Island Workers' Compensation law, every person, firm, public service, or private corporation that has regular employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employees can check the Rhode Island database of insured employers at the Director of the Department of Labor & Training to verify that their company has workers' compensation insurance in place.
However, there are employers and organizations that may not be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and there are employees who may not be covered. These include:
- Sole proprietors and partnerships. If you work for an organization that is registered with the state as a sole proprietorship or business partnership, the company may not be required to carry workers' compensation coverage.
- Government employees. Federal employees (such as postal workers, police, and firefighters) are covered under federal compensation programs, while municipal employees may only be covered if the municipality has elected to purchase insurance.
- Special services employees. In Rhode Island, certain real estate, agricultural, and domestic service employees are not covered by workers' compensation.
- Self-insured employers. Some employers may pay for the costs of a work injury out of their own profits instead of purchasing workers’ compensation insurance, while others may not be listed due to limitations with the policy information.
- Employers who are breaking the law. If employees are unable to verify coverage, the employer may be noncompliant or committing worker’s compensation fraud. Employees can check by emailing [email protected]
If you have suffered a work injury, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help. Simply fill out the online contact form on this page, or call us to set up a consultation with our legal team.
Aside from my estate plan, are there other legal documents I need to update after my divorce?
Once your divorce is finalized, you may believe all of your financial interactions with your spouse are finally settled. However, this may not be true if you have not removed your former spouse as a beneficiary on your individual accounts. Even if you have updated your will to exclude your former spouse, he may still receive some or all of your benefits if you have not named a new beneficiary for each plan or policy where his name appears.
Accounts and Legal Documents to Update After a Divorce
Your attorney should perform a full investigation of your accounts and holdings to ensure that all of your assets have the correct beneficiary designations. In most cases, beneficiary designations will supersede what is written in a will—even if you named your spouse as a beneficiary decades before your death.
In addition to updating your estate plan after a divorce, you should also consider changing the beneficiary designations on your existing accounts, including:
- Healthcare plans. The beneficiary of a healthcare policy is a separate designation from a healthcare power of attorney. It is vital to consider whether an ex-spouse will continue to benefit from a shared health plan, particularly if the ex-spouse cares for children who are also covered under the plan.
- Pensions and life insurance. Under federal law, spouses are the automatic beneficiaries of 401k accounts. If the policyholder wants to name an alternative beneficiary, she will need a signed waiver from the spouse. Some divorce agreements may require that divorcing spouses keep each other as beneficiaries on certain accounts as a way of protecting their children or dividing assets fairly.
- Retirement accounts. The requirements for changing beneficiaries on retirement accounts such as IRAs can be complicated, especially if the policyholder changes the designation before the divorce is final.
- Bank accounts. A named beneficiary on checking and savings accounts, mutual funds, CDs, and annuities will have automatic access to funds after your death, so it is vital that you designate the correct person.
The legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can carefully examine all of your accounts and holdings to ensure that your beneficiary designations reflect your wishes while staying in compliance with state and federal laws. If you need more information on filing for divorce in Rhode Island, please get in touch with us today via our online contact form.
Is it legal that my employer self-insures instead of purchasing workers’ compensation insurance?
All employers who are subject to the Workers' Compensation Act are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance under Rhode Island law. However, it is possible for employers to pay for the costs of a work injury out of their own profits instead of purchasing workers’ compensation insurance (known as self-insuring). These employers must meet eligibility requirements and go through a certification process in order to legally provide benefits to injured workers.
Rules for Self-Insured Employers in Rhode Island
There are a few different ways an employer can offer its own workers’ compensation benefits, such as self-insuring by statute (applies to municipalities), or to become certified by the Department of Business Regulations as part of a self-insurance group. The most common way for businesses to self-insure is to be certified by the state Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC). The certification process takes approximately 60 days and requires:
- Proof of financial guarantee. Every applicant for workers’ compensation self- insurance must be financially secure and must provide evidence of guarantee of coverage with minimum limits of several thousand dollars. Applicants may also be required to carry commercial stop-loss insurance during their first five years of self- insurance to ensure all employee claims will be paid.
- DWC investigation. A DWC investigation may include employer site inspections, feasibility studies, financial obligation requirements, records from a parent guarantor; bonding and payment facilities, and other requests necessary to satisfy the DWC that the employer is eligible for approval or re-certification.
- An administrative hearing. Initial approval will only be granted after a hearing before the Director of the Department of Labor & Training to review the results of the DWC investigation.
- Adherence to workers’ compensation rules and regulations. Self-insured employers are still required to comply with all requirements of workers’ compensation laws, including data processing regulations, workers’ compensation procedures, and the rules and orders of the Workers’ Compensation Court.
- Commitment to payment and reporting standards. Employers are responsible for paying application fees and yearly assessments to the RI Workers’ Compensation Fund, submitting payroll records and other documents to the DWC in a timely fashion, and renewing certification every year to prevent lapses, revocation, or expiration.
If you need help accessing your workers’ compensation benefits, simply fill out the online contact form on this page, or call Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum to set up a consultation with our work injury attorneys.
Should I accept a workers’ compensation settlement?
Rhode Island workers’ compensation settlements are usually final decisions. That means, once you and the workers’ compensation insurance company agree to a settlement, you are unlikely to get any future compensation for your workplace injuries. Thus, you need to make sure that the settlement fairly compensates you for all of your injuries before you accept it.
Types of RI Workers’ Compensation Settlements
In Rhode Island, you may agree to one of the following types of workers’ compensation settlements:
- Denial and Dismissal Settlement. This type of settlement is used in disputed claims and settles before liability is determined. The injured worker agrees that his claim will be denied and dismissed in exchange for payment. The insurance company pays out a lump sum to the employee but doesn’t acknowledge liability, and the employee must pay all medical bills as a result of the injury. Often, the employee will be asked to resign from his position as a condition of the settlement.
- Commutation Settlement. In this type of settlement, the insurance company has already admitted liability and has paid your workers’ comp benefits for at least six months. The settlement will be for all the rest of the workers’ comp benefits you may receive.
Both types of settlements are final, and you give up your right to receive any future workers’ comp benefits, including medical coverage, beyond what is included in the settlement that you sign.
We Can Help With Your Workers’ Comp Case
It’s important that you understand the extent of your injuries before accepting a workers’ compensation settlement. Thus, your doctor should determine that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement for your injuries or illness.
Before you accept any settlement, you should consult with our experienced Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys. We will review your medical records and the proposed settlement amount to make sure that the settlement provides you with fair compensation under Rhode Island law. Call us, or reach out to us via this website today to learn more.
How long do I have to file my truck accident lawsuit?
If a negligent truck driver caused your truck accident, it is important to understand the basics of how to file your claim for compensation against the trucker and the trucking company’s insurance company. One of the most important laws you need to understand is the statute of limitations.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing Your Truck Crash Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations is the time period you have to file your civil lawsuit against the trucker and trucking company. Every state has its own law setting this deadline. In Rhode Island, how long you have to do so depends on what type of compensation you are asking for. Here are the time periods that could be applicable in your case:
- Personal injury. If you are suing for compensation because you suffered personal injuries, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of your truck accident.
- Wrongful death. You may file a wrongful death action if a loved one died in a truck collision. You must file your lawsuit within three years of the date of death—not the date of the crash.
- Property damage. The statute of limitations is 10 years from the date of the accident if you are filing a civil suit for property damages. This could include the cost of repairing your vehicle.
What Happens If the Statute of Limitations Expires?
If you file a truck accident lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, the penalty is harsh. The trucker and trucking company will most likely raise this as a defense, and the judge will dismiss your case.
You can avoid this by retaining an experienced truck accident attorney soon after your collision. Even if you have time before the statute of limitations expires, you want to hire an attorney as soon as possible to build a strong claim of negligence and protect your legal rights. Start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today to find out how we can assist you.
Do I need an attorney for an uncontested divorce?
If you and your spouse agree to end your marriage, you may file an uncontested or no-fault divorce in Rhode Island. For the court to grant your uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree on every aspect of your divorce agreement. However, many people seeking uncontested divorces in Rhode Island still benefit from legal counsel.
Four Reasons to Consult an Attorney
Even if you and your spouse agree to end your marriage, there may be some necessary negotiations about how to divide your property, how to share custody of your children, whether alimony will be provided, and whether child support will be provided. An experienced divorce attorney can:
- Advise you of every option, so you’re confident in the decisions you make
- Make sure that all of your legal rights are protected before you sign a legally binding divorce agreement
- Prevent you from making mistakes or creating unnecessary delays in your divorce proceedings by making sure all of the paperwork is filed correctly and on time
- Take the stress out of negotiating directly with your spouse by handling negotiations on your behalf
How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in RI
Rhode Island does not have a special procedure for getting an uncontested divorce. Generally, you will need to file for divorce claiming irreconcilable differences, and you will need to explain to the court that both you and your spouse agree on the reason for the divorce and the specific terms of your divorce.
The divorce process will start when one spouse files for divorce at the clerk’s office at the local court. The other spouse will then have the opportunity to answer the divorce complaint. Then, the court will set a hearing date. You typically must bring witnesses to this hearing who will testify that you have been a Rhode Island resident for at least a year and know that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. After the hearing, additional forms must be submitted to the court. Once everything has been approved, you will be divorced.
The divorce process may be easier when both spouses agree to end the marriage, but it can still be complicated. Now is the time to make sure your rights are protected. Let us help you end your marriage with as little stress and as much certainty as possible. Call our Cranston divorce lawyers today, or reach out to us via this website to learn more.
Can an employer fire me for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
While most people know that workers' compensation provides medical and lost income benefits to workers who suffer an injury on the job, they may not know of the additional employment protection it affords a worker after filing a claim. Some employers may be tempted to threaten or harass an employee to discourage him from filing a claim, or the employer may simply want to fire the employee. If this happens, employees can take action against the employer to recover civil damages for unfair treatment.
Protection From Employer Retaliation
To ensure that employees are able to collect their work injury benefits without punishment, workers’ compensation laws prohibit employers from taking adverse action against a worker who has brought a claim in good faith. The employee is protected from retaliation immediately after the qualifying injury occurs, even before the claim is filed or the employer notified of the accident.
Under workers' compensation laws, employers are forbidden from retaliating against workers in the following ways:
- Termination. Workers' compensation laws typically prevent an injured worker from suing an employer. However, if the employee was laid off or fired because he sought workers’ compensation benefits, he may bring a retaliatory discharge lawsuit against the employer.
- Workplace harassment. Employers may make threats against employees who file claims, including blacklisting them from future job opportunities.
- Discriminatory treatment. Discrimination can come in many forms, including disciplinary action, salary reduction, demotion, being passed over for promotion, or being assigned a new title or another position.
- Forced leave. Employers cannot force an employee to use or forfeit accrued paid time off, paid medical leave, pension benefits, or other earned income in lieu of workers’ compensation income replacement benefits during recovery.
If you believe you have been discriminated against or discharged in retaliation for seeking workers’ compensation benefits, we can examine the details of your case and help you get what you’re owed for your injury. Simply fill out the easy online contact form on this page, or call Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum to set up a consultation with our work injury attorneys.
How can I find the right divorce lawyer for me?
Once you have made the decision to separate from your spouse, you may turn to the internet to search for an attorney who can handle the case. While online research is a helpful first step, it can quickly become overwhelming, as there may be hundreds of attorneys near you. With so many lawyers who could handle your case, how do you find the one that’s right for you?
Finding the Right Attorney to Handle Your Divorce
The most important thing when selecting an attorney to handle your divorce is to choose a family law attorney. All law firms have areas of focus such as personal injury, business law, workers’ compensation, and estate planning. Your chosen attorney does not need to handle divorce cases exclusively, but one who regularly works in divorce and family law has a much better chance of obtaining a favorable outcome for you.
The right divorce attorney for your case will be the one who:
- Has experience in your type of divorce. There are many different ways to separate from a spouse, including mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigating the case in court. The divorce process you use will depend on the specifics of your case and whether you and your spouse can work together during separation. Spouses who divorce amicably may only need an attorney to act as a legal guide to help them file paperwork, discover and divide all assets, and update financial documents and estate plans after separation. On the other hand, if your spouse is hiding assets or threatening to leave you penniless, you will likely need an attorney with trial experience.
- Addresses your specific needs. Ask yourself: what is most important to you in your case? Is it custody of your children, obtaining spousal support, or moving on as quickly as possible? Are you concerned about dividing business assets or getting a fair portion of the marital property? The answer can steer you toward the right person to achieve that goal.
- Communicates well and keeps you informed. The right attorney should never make you feel as if you are a bother or that you are not a priority. When you meet with an attorney, don’t be afraid to ask questions about who will be working on your case and how often you will be updated on its progress.
If you need more information on filing for divorce in Rhode Island or have child custody questions, we can help. Please contact Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum today via our online contact form.