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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How are drunk driving crashes different from other motor vehicle accidents?
Filing a drunk driving accident claim is different from a claim for a motor vehicle collision not involving alcohol. Drunk driving claims are different in important ways that can affect your right to compensation and can increase the value of your claim.
Key Differences Between Drunk Driving and Other Motor Vehicle Crash Claims
The basic laws governing motor vehicle accidents also apply to drunk driving wreck claims. For example, in both types of cases, you are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In addition, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit will most likely be the same. However, here are crucial differences in drunk driving cases to be aware of:
- Proof of negligence. While you still must prove the other driver’s drunk driving caused your accident, negligence may be easier to prove. For example, you can use the blood alcohol content (BAC) test results and the driver’s arrest as strong evidence that his intoxication was the cause of the crash.
- Criminal case. In a drunk driving case, the driver may also face criminal charges. If he pleads guilty or is convicted of drunk driving, this may be considered negligence per se—negligence would automatically be proven—and can provide strong evidence in your civil case.
- Punitive damages. In cases where the driver’s actions are especially negligent, the victim may be entitled to punitive damages to punish the liable party. You are much more likely to be awarded punitive damages in a drunk driving case than another type of motor vehicle accident.
- Dram shop claim. Under Rhode Island’s dram shop laws, you may have a claim against a bar, restaurant, store, or other business for providing alcohol to the drunk driver.
- Insurance company. The drunk driver’s insurance company may take your claim for compensation more seriously if there is clear evidence that the driver was intoxicated. While settling your claim could still be complicated, the insurance company may be more reluctant to take your case to jury trial.
You Need an Experienced Attorney for Your Drunk Driving Accident Claim
If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, you need our experienced drunk driving victims attorneys who have handled drunk driving cases. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options and how we will fight to obtain the compensation that you deserve.
What should I do after a car accident caused by a drunk driver?
If a drunk driver caused your automobile crash, you could suffer serious injuries such as back injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, or traumatic brain injury, and these could require you to be off work for months or longer while you recover. There are important steps to take if you want to hold the intoxicated driver responsible for your injuries, build a strong case, and receive the full value of your claim.
Important Steps After a Drunk Driving Wreck
You may have a strong case against a drunk driver, but you must still prove your right to compensation. Taking these steps will help with your case:
- Obtain medical care. If you or any other victims suffered apparent injuries in the crash, call 911 for immediate medical assistance. Even if you believe your injuries were “minor,” you need to be examined by a doctor within a day or two of your wreck. The symptoms of some injuries such as traumatic brain injury or back, neck, or spinal injuries may not develop for days or weeks after your accident. You can protect your health and avoid disputes with the insurance adjuster by seeing a doctor right away.
- Obtain police report. You need to call the police at the scene of the wreck, and obtain a copy of the police report. The report will contain the other driver’s statement, the officer’s conclusions as to the cause of the wreck, and other helpful information to prove the drunk driver’s negligence.
- Take pictures and videos. Take pictures and videos of the accident scene, damage to any vehicles involved in the crash, your injuries, and anything else that could be helpful to your case. If you are too injured to do so, ask a passenger in your vehicle or witness to do this for you.
- Collect contact information. Collect the contact information for the drunk driver, his insurance company, and any witnesses. You should not rely on the police to obtain contact information for witnesses. Get this essential information yourself before it is lost.
- Do not give a recorded statement. A recorded statement is a tape-recorded question and answer session between the insurance adjuster and you. You are not required to give one to settle your claim, and you could say something that inadvertently hurts your case.
- Don’t settle too quickly. You want to avoid accepting the first settlement offer from the insurance company as it will most likely be for far less than you deserve. You should never settle a drunk driving accident claim without first consulting with an experienced car accident attorney to be certain you receive a fair settlement.
- Contact an attorney. One of your first steps following a drunk driving accident should be to retain an experienced car accident attorney. He can guide you through the process of filing your claim, investigating your accident, and negotiating your settlement for you.
Were you injured in a drunk driving accident? Our experienced legal team is here to help. To discuss your accident and your legal options for compensation, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Can the family sue for wrongful death if their loved one received workers’ comp death benefits?
Rhode Island workers’ compensation statutes guarantee benefits to injured workers regardless of fault, which is beneficial to both workers and employers. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, an injured employee is prohibited from suing an employer for any costs related to the accident. However, there may be exceptions to this rule for the survivors seeking compensation after the wrongful work death of a loved one.
How Survivors Get Compensation After a Wrongful Work Death
If your spouse or loved one died in a wrongful work death, you may experience many different kinds of loss. You may face economic problems caused by lost income and financial difficulties due to medical bills and funeral costs. But surviving family members may obtain compensation through:
- Workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation should pay for any medical bills that were incurred due to a work-related death. In addition, workers’ comp death benefits provide up to $15,000 to the deceased employee’s dependents to help with funeral and burial expenses, as well as weekly wage payments to the deceased employee’s spouse. However, workers’ compensation does not allow for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and punitive damages.
- A lawsuit against a negligent employer. Workers’ compensation death benefits often provide far less than the surviving family members need to recover. For this reason, Rhode Island law allows family members to sue employers in cases where an employer directly or deliberately caused the action that resulted in their loved one’s death. These kinds of cases take extensive legal knowledge to win, since survivors must prove that a company deliberately and knowingly placed their loved one in unreasonable danger.
- Third-party cases. If you are barred from suing your loved one’s employer, you can still sue another party whose negligence contributed to the death. These third-party claims involve someone other than the employer (such as a property owner, maintenance company, project manager, or defective product manufacturer), and there are no limits on the types of damages that may be collected.
If your loved one died in a work accident, our attorneys can gather evidence on your behalf and help get you the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum via our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation at no cost to you.
Do grandparents have visitation rights after a Rhode Island divorce?
There are many ways a grandparent may be separated from grandchildren after a divorce is final. One spouse may prevent the other spouse’s relatives from seeing the children, or visits with surviving grandparents may stop after one spouse has died. If visitation is suspended, grandparents can petition the Family Court to seek "reasonable visitation rights" for the grandchild.
Grandparents May Request Visitation Rights
No matter who gets custody of a child after a divorce, it is expected that the child will be able to enjoy access to both parents (unless there is some legal reason the other parent should not interact with the child). However, there is no guarantee that grandparents will be able to visit the grandchildren of a divorced spouse. If a grandparent wishes to ensure visitation of a grandchild after a divorce, he must make an official request through the Family Court.
The Court will consider a few factors in order to determine whether the child should be allowed to visit the grandparent(s), including:
- Whether visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild
- Whether the grandparent is fit and responsible to be granted visitation rights
- Whether the grandparent has attempted to visit the grandchild within the previous 30 days before petitioning, but he was prevented from doing so
- Whether court intervention is the only way the grandparent would reasonably be able to visit the grandchild
- Whether the grandparent has clear evidence that a parent’s decision to refuse visitation was not reasonable
Once the Court grants visitation rights to the grandparent, it can also take action to enforce the visitation rights if the parent is unwilling to accept the ruling. In addition, the law requires that any further custody or visitation petitions be provided to all parties that have been granted visitation. This allows grandparents to remain a presence in the child’s life unless the Court issues an order removing visitation rights.
If your visitation rights have been suspended after a Rhode Island divorce, we can help. Fill out our online contact form today to set up your initial consultation with a divorce and family law attorney at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum.
Can I get pain and suffering through a workers’ comp claim?
While the workers’ compensation system guarantees payment regardless of fault, the payments offered are limited to medical expenses and lost wages. Pain and suffering is not considered a covered loss and cannot be collected through workers’ compensation. However, pain and suffering can be obtained by filing a lawsuit against the person responsible for causing the injury.
How Injured Workers May Be Paid for Their Pain and Suffering
Workers’ compensation is known as the “exclusive remedy” against employers for injuries suffered on the job. This means, if an injury qualifies for workers’ compensation, claimants are barred from suing the employer. The only exception is if the employee has suffered workplace discrimination or defamation, in which case the employee is allowed to sue the employer for damages (including pain and suffering).
How Workers Comp Can Pay for Pain and Suffering
In some cases, accidents are caused not by the employer, but by the negligence of a third party. Third-party claims can be sought regardless of workers’ compensation status and may include the costs of pain and suffering, punitive damages, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
For example, workers may pursue a third-party claim against:
- A driver of a vehicle (not employed by the same employer) who caused a car accident
- A general contractor or sub-contractor responsible for a construction site injury
- A company who manufactured a defective piece of equipment
- An engineer or designer who created hazardous machinery or working conditions
- Property owners who allowed a dangerous condition to exist on their premises
- Maintenance companies who failed to adhere to cleanliness or safety standards
It is important to note that workers may have to pay the workers’ compensation insurer back if they recover damages from a negligent third party. A successful negligence claim often includes payment for lost earnings and medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering, and employees who have already been paid for some of these costs through workers’ compensation can be ordered to reimburse the insurer. This prevents claimants from being paid twice for the same losses and allows the third party to be held liable for the full costs of the accident.
More Questions About Pain and Suffering for Workers Comp Law?
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum know how to properly negotiate the amount you are owed for your injury and will explore all options to maximize the value of your claim. Call us today at 401-946-3200 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a no-cost initial consultation.
Why shouldn’t I post on social media after an injury?
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with your friends and family, so it may seem like a good idea to tell everyone about your accident by posting on Facebook or Twitter. However, this common mistake can hurt your chances of obtaining compensation, and it can make it much harder for you to win damages in an injury lawsuit.
How Social Media Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Case
It’s only natural to want to reassure your friends that you are all right after an injury, but it is important to realize that anything you post online can be used as evidence in your injury case, even if it is unrelated to the accident. Nearly everything you post can be used against you in some way, including:
- What you say. Your own words can easily be used to poke holes in your injury case. Some people cope with trauma by making jokes about the accident, which the defense attorneys may take literally. Even if you post something positive about feeling much better after changing doctors or taking a new medication, the defense attorneys may use it to undermine the seriousness of the injuries you have.
- How you look. Any photos you share—or that others share of you—can be used as evidence. Pictures of you having a drink, attending a party, or even smiling can potentially be harmful to your case.
- Where you are. People who have been severely injured in a crash often take weeks to recover, and it can be a long and frustrating process. While it is a good idea to socialize with friends and visit relatives, any pictures that show you on vacation or out of town recuperating can be used as evidence that your injuries are not serious.
- What you’re doing. Pictures that show any physical activity should be kept off of social media. Obviously, a person who is seriously injured would not engage in skiing or running a marathon, but even necessary or low-impact activities (such as raking leaves or walking the dog) may be seen as evidence that you are not in any pain.
It’s important to suspend your Facebook and social media accounts until after your case is concluded. If you cannot do that, you should adjust your privacy settings, so that only a small number of people can access your account. For more help on your claim, contact Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum via our online contact form to schedule a no-cost initial consultation.
Do all estates have to go through probate in Rhode Island?
When a person dies, his property must go through probate proceedings before it can be passed on to named beneficiaries. Probate is typically a long and expensive process, and in some cases, it does not make sense to make heirs wait before inheriting a relative’s property. This is why state law allows some smaller estates to be exempt from probate in Rhode Island.
What Are Rhode Island’s Small Estate Laws?
If a person dies with less than $15,000 of personal property, probate may be shortened under the "small estate" provision. The executor of the estate will have to file the necessary forms with the probate court, but the waiting time for the closure of these estates is typically much shorter and far less costly.
In order to close a small estate, an executor must:
- Complete a schedule of all known assets and the estimated value of each one
- File the decedent’s original will with the probate court
- Present the deceased’s death certificate to the clerk of the probate court
- Pay applicable filing fees
- Make payments from the estate to creditors
- Pay any necessary final medical and funeral expenses using estate funds
- Distribute the remaining assets according to the terms of the will
The person who is named an executor should be willing and able to discharge all necessary duties that are required to close the estate. If an executor does not perform these duties to the letter of the law, family members may hold the executor liable for mishandling the estate.
Learn More About Rhode Island Probate Law From Our Attorneys
Even when the estate is small, probate proceedings can be frustrating and an arduous process. The best way to avoid unnecessary costs and confusion is to enlist the help of an estate planning and probate attorney. Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you protect your assets and avoid going through probate in Rhode Island by retitling your assets and creating a living trust. Call us today at 401-946-3200 or fill out our online contact form to set up your initial consultation.
How long will it take to resolve my personal injury case?
Many injury victims want to know how long they will wait before receiving compensation after an accident. Not only does a personal injury claim place strain on a victim’s personal and family life, it can make financial decisions difficult and make the future uncertain. The truth is, there is no set length a time in which a claim must be settled after it is filed, but there are ways to estimate the time it will take before the matter is resolved.
Why It May Take Longer to Resolve Your Rhode Island Personal Injury Claim
In general, in can take between two months to several years to resolve a claim, with most cases falling in the middle. While the exact time varies from case to case, claims may take longer depending on:
- The type and extent of your injury. The impact of some injuries is fairly obvious, but it may be more difficult to show how other injuries have affected your life. For example, a broken bone shows up easily on an x-ray, requires time and immobility to heal, and has known complications. Soft-tissue injuries are harder to diagnose, and the prognosis can vary from patient to patient.
- Your medical treatment history. The at-fault party in your lawsuit may scrutinize your medical details to see if there is any way you could share blame for the injury. If you waited to seek treatment, stopped treatment early, or had previous injuries to the same part of the body, you will have to respond with additional evidence in your injury case proving why you are still entitled to the settlement amount requested.
- How long it has been since the accident occurred. Under state law, all victims have three years from the date of an injury to file a lawsuit. However, the longer you wait to file, the more difficult it may be to track down vital evidence needed for your case.
Our Attorneys Can Help Understand How Long an Injury Claim May Take
If you’ve suffered injuries after an accident, contact the legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum by filling out our online contact form to tell us what happened in your no-cost initial consultation.
Are there time limits on workers’ compensation benefits?
Most injured workers have their hands full with emergency medical care and follow-up health appointments to begin thinking about filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, these claims are subject to a variety of different deadlines, beginning with the time frame to report a workplace accident to an employer.
Time Limits Applied to Workers’ Compensation in Rhode Island
There are time limits on nearly every aspect of a workers’ compensation claim. Here is a brief overview of those deadlines:
- How long do I have to give my employer notice of my injury? You have 30 days to report an injury or illness to your employer. However, it is best to report your condition as soon as possible, since your employer is required by law to file a declaration form with the Rhode Island Division of Workers’ Compensation.
- How long do I have to file a claim? Workers can file a workers’ compensation claim up to 2 years from the date of injury. The deadline is lengthy because many injuries and occupational diseases covered under Rhode Island workers' compensation may take a long time to manifest. Employees who file workers’ compensation for repetitive stress injuries or work-related cancers often do not have one sudden incident that results in injury but suffer day-by-day exposure that causes injury over time.
- How long must I be unable to work before I can collect workers’ compensation? There is a waiting period of 3 days on wage loss benefits. You are officially considered disabled on the 4th day of missed work.
- How long can a person receive benefits? Employees who are temporarily or partially disabled may continue to receive benefits for up to six years as long as they maintain disability status. If a person is permanently and completely unable to work, benefits may continue indefinitely.
- How long does my employer have to hold my job? Rhode Island is one of only a handful of states that protect your right to return to your old job. Once you are cleared for return to work by your doctor, you must claim your position within 10 days.
Questions About How Long You Can Be On Workers Compensation For Our Workers Comp Lawyers?
No matter the time limits, you should take action immediately to report your injury or file a claim. Any hesitation to do so may be seen as evidence that your injury isn’t severe, potentially damaging your case. The workers' compensation attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can examine the details of your case and help you get the benefits you deserve. Call us today at 401-946-3200 or fill out our online contact form to tell us what happened in your no-cost initial consultation.
What is the value of my Rhode Island personal injury claim?
Many accident victims want to know if their settlement amount will be enough to compensate them for the hardship and struggles they’ve endured. If the case goes to trial, the claim will be worth whatever the jury decides. However, the vast majority of cases are settled out of court, and attorneys in the case will determine a figure during settlement negotiations. In both cases, it can be difficult to know the exact amount that a victim can receive without a careful examination of the facts.
Factors That Can Affect the Value of a Personal Injury Claim
Attorneys and insurers must consider many different variables before arriving at a fair settlement value for a case. They may consider recent Rhode Island jury verdicts and settlements as a starting point for negotiations, especially if those amounts help their cases.
Your ability to recover fair compensation will depend on:
- Your medical bills. These should total the amount you have paid for trips to or stays in the hospital and all medical costs associated with the injury, as well as the amount you could pay for medical costs in the future.
- Your property losses. These losses can include property damage (such as the loss of your vehicle), as well as expenses for property modification due to your injuries (such as installing a wheelchair ramp).
- Your ability to work. Because your past lost wages, future loss of income, and permanent disability can amount to thousands of dollars, you will need substantial medical evidence to prove the extent of these losses.
- Your story. There is no limit on the amount of damages a victim can receive to compensate for pain and suffering. If you have suffered unfairly during the course of your injury or recovery, the jury will likely be more sympathetic to your case.
- Your attorney. Finding the right personal injury attorney is vital to your case. The person representing you should have experience handling your kind of accident, know the difficulties of the specific injuries you have sustained, be familiar with all applicable laws involved, and have experience in settling cases, negotiating with insurers or other lawyers, and representing clients in court.
At Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum, we take the time to go over every facet of your case, the details of your injuries, the emotional aspects caused by your injuries, and your treatment. We work to learn exactly how the accident and the injuries affected your life and strive to understand the true value of your case. Contact us by filling out our online form to start a no-cost, initial consultation.