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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What are my next steps after a workplace injury?
Nearly three million workers experienced non-fatal injuries in their workplaces in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. After being injured on the job, it’s important to understand your rights as a worker and the steps to take if you plan to file a workers’ compensation claim.
What Should an Injured Worker Do?
Every Rhode Island employer with one or more employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which is a no-fault insurance designed to help workers with injury-related costs such as medical expenses and lost wages. After you’ve been injured at work or become sick because of your job, you should:
- Seek immediate medical attention. It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible after an injury. At your appointment, be sure to mention every detail of your injury, so your doctor has accurate medical records. Also, remember that you are not required to see a doctor approved by your employer; you are allowed to visit your regular primary physician even if he is not in your employer’s insurance network. Additionally, if your injury keeps you from working for three or more consecutive full-time days or warrants medical attention, your employer is required to file a report within 10 days of the incident.
- Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. Be sure to tell your employer you’ve been injured and intend to file a workers’ compensation claim, even if the injury seems unimportant or you’re uncertain if the injury is covered under Rhode Island workers’ comp. Some injuries worsen over time and may need treatment later on.
- File a workers’ compensation claim. It is the responsibility of your employer to submit a claim to the company’s insurance carrier. Rhode Island has a strict statute of limitations on workers’ comp claims, so it’s important that you make sure your employer submits a claim within 10 days after the accident occurs. To ensure accuracy and completeness, it would be wise to speak with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer before submitting the claim.
Document the Incident Well
After you’ve been injured on the job, take great care to create a detailed record of the incident immediately. Not only will this help you submit an accurate and complete workers’ compensation claim, well-recorded details will also assist a lawyer if you hire one. It’s important to:
- Document what happened
- Document when the incident occurred
- Document if other people were involved
- Document people who saw the incident and their contact information
- Document if the incident was caused by an ongoing safety issue
- Obtain any video recordings, audio recordings, or pictures
We Can Help
Dealing with a work injury can be stressful and confusing, but the experienced team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help. We will work to gather records, document events, and build your claim. Reach out to us via live online chat to get started on your case.
What is probate?
Probate is the court-supervised process for handling the affairs of a person who has died. It verifies the will, inventories the assets, pays final debts, and distributes remaining assets to the beneficiaries. Assets included in a living trust, life insurance paid to a named beneficiary, or assets held jointly with rights of survivorship are typically excluded from the probate process—other assets must go through probate.
The Purpose of Probate
The basic purpose of probate is to ensure that the deceased person’s assets are transferred to the beneficiaries in an orderly and controlled manner. Probate is also in place to:
- Settle debts. If the deceased still owed money to creditors, probate ensures that the estate’s executor settles those debts.
- Handle taxes. Depending on the size of the estate, the state of Rhode Island and the federal government may impose estate taxes. In addition, the estate may also owe state and federal income tax or property taxes.
- Distribute property. If a will exists, probate distributes the assets according to the terms of the will. However, if a person dies without a will, probate allocates property, money, and other assets according to Rhode Island intestacy laws.
Avoiding Probate Is Possible in Rhode Island
The probate process can take a year or more—primarily because there are waiting periods and delays built into the legal system. And probate can get expensive—especially when disputes over asset distribution arise or the executor isn’t well-informed. To avoid these issues, many people choose to avoid probate altogether—or at least reduce the number of assets subject to this process. Following are some tools that can be used to accomplish this goal:
- Will: Since a will works to detail a person’s wishes when they die, it gives the executor exact instructions for distribution of property and assets. By itself, a will does not necessarily mean that probate can be avoided, but it can help reduce costs by clarifying issues related to asset distribution.
- Living Trust: To prevent your property from going through probate, you can create a trust—which, upon your death, designates an immediate trustee for all your assets. During your lifetime, you are the trustee of your trust. However, upon your death, a person of your choosing becomes the successor trustee and distributes property for you. Virtually any asset you have can be put into a trust, including real estate, cars, and bank accounts.
- Joint Ownership: During your lifetime, you can enter into joint ownership of your assets with another person, such as your spouse. Upon your passing, the right of survivorship ensures that the property passes on smoothly to the other owner. Of course, some paperwork is involved to verify ownership, but it typically happens much more efficiently than the probate process.
If you need help with a probate dispute or if you are thinking about building your own estate plan, our experienced probate lawyers. Contact us by phone or fill out our handy online contact form today!
Can I limit my personal liability as a business owner?
When you’re ready to start your own company, you’ll need to select the type of legal structure for your business. This decision impacts many important aspects of your business including personal liability if a lawsuit should arise. Here are two main options for setting up a business while protecting your personal property, assets, and your family’s financial future:
Limited Liability Company
A limited liability company (LLC) offers you certain benefits that being a sole proprietor does not. A few of the most important benefits of running an LLC include:
- Limited personal liability. As the owner (or a member) of an LLC, your liability for the actions of the business is limited. Therefore, if a lawsuit arises, your personal belongings and assets—such as your house, car, and bank accounts—are not at stake if someone sues the business.
- “Pass-through” taxation. When you form an LLC, you can claim the tax losses of the business on your individual tax form. This often benefits how much you’re taxed, especially if the business is your sole source of income. However, you may also choose to be taxed as a corporation or partnership.
Forming a corporation is also a good option for limiting your personal liability in business disputes. Corporations share benefits and are structured differently. The most notable benefits of corporations include:
- Limited personal liability. Just as with an LLC, a corporation protects its shareholders from personal loss in the event of a lawsuit.
- Outside financing. Although each individual in a corporation likely put up capital to become a shareholder, the business itself is financed through the sale of stock. These profits are then retained by the business for use or disbursed to the shareholders as salary.
- Taxing on income. Similar to an LLC, shareholders can claim profits or losses on their personal tax forms. However, individuals also pay capital gains rates on dividends or the individual rates on profit share and capital.
Your Next Steps
If you’re the sole proprietor of your business, you’re 100 percent liable for the problems, debts, and actions of the business. If you want to choose an alternative business structure for your company, hiring a business lawyer can help. Our legal team at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum is ready to answer your questions and discuss your business needs today. Fill out our online contact form to get started.
How do Rhode Island judges award alimony?
Going through a divorce can be confusing and overwhelming. Whatever you feel about separating from your ex, the legal process can often add to the stress. The paperwork can be endless, and it’s sometimes difficult to find compromises. When you’re faced with the issue of alimony, you might wonder how it works and how a judge decides what gets paid out to a spouse and why.
What Is Alimony?
In many marriages, one person earns the majority of the household income. Alimony exists to help the person with little or no income succeed financially after the divorce. Simply put, alimony is a court-ordered payment that the higher-earning spouse must make to the other.
Questions often arise about how much support must be paid and how long it must continue. Judges consider many factors when awarding alimony to one party of the divorce, including:
- The length of the marriage. A longer relationship might be worth more in alimony if one spouse has been out of work for many years.
- The health of both parties. Ailing health can prevent one party from working to earn money or pay alimony.
- The current employment situation of both parties. If a person is unemployed, he will likely need extra support from his ex to become financially independent later.
- The future earning potential of both parties. If one of the spouses has been a homemaker during the marriage, he might not have any marketable job skills—which would make it more difficult to support himself financially.
- The spouse who has child custody. If one parent will raise the child, the alimony payment works in conjunction with child support to compensate the responsible parent.
- The standard of living during the marriage. If during the marriage both spouses were accustomed to a certain standard of living, one spouse might be expected to continue to provide finances to keep that standard for the other.
How Long Will a Person Pay Alimony?
In Rhode Island, there is no time limit on alimony payments. These payments are designed to help one spouse become financially independent—which can take a long time if that person has poor health or no marketable job skills. For this reason, judges often award ongoing alimony. However, either party may petition to change the amount of time alimony payments are made, depending on changing financial situations, learned skills, or health complications or improvements.
If you have questions about your alimony award or feel confused with the legal process, contact the experienced lawyers at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum. Fill out the contact form on our website to get started on your case today.
What is a collaborative divorce?
Collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows married couples to negotiate the terms of a divorce without participating in a stressful legal battle. The practice is widely used by people who don't want the trouble of going to court but still want to ensure that they receive an equal or fair amount of their previously-shared property and finances.
Why Use This Method?
While some seek this approach for the cost savings, others simply do not wish to spend time in the courtroom. Collaborative divorces are often beneficial to all parties involved because:
- Less money is spent on attorney fees.
- Both parties are able to calmly work out a resolution without feeling at war with one another.
- The setting is informal and more comfortable than that of a courtroom.
- No judge or jury is present to make decisions for anyone.
- There is no pressure to reach a solution within a certain amount of time.
- The divorce tends to be resolved more quickly than court-based disputes.
What Happens in Collaborative Divorce Proceedings?
In a collaborative divorce, both parties generally employ an attorney to monitor the negotiation and give input when necessary. The group will meet as often as necessary to establish a mutual agreement regarding the terms of a divorce. Additionally, you may cover topics such as:
- Establishing the terms of child custody concerns
- Establishing child support payment amounts
- Negotiating a settlement
- Negotiating the division of property
How Do I Schedule a Collaborative Divorce?
To set up a collaborative divorce, the first step is to acknowledge that you would like to pursue a less complicated approach—where the demands and expectations of both parties are heard. The second step is to ensure that your spouse is equally willing to negotiate. Lastly, both parties will want to consult with an attorney with a background of successfully assisting clients using an alternative dispute resolution approach.
If you are a Rhode Island resident and considering a collaborative divorce, contact us today to learn more.
How can I claim compensation if I’ve been attacked by a dog?
Known for their loyalty and obedience, dogs are one of the most popular pets in America. In spite of this, in the United States, more than 1,000 people seek emergency room treatment for dog bites every day. Each year, in Providence, Kent, and Washington Counties, Rhode Island, many adults and children suffer serious and sometimes fatal injuries as a result of an unprovoked dog attack. Dog bites can result in permanent physical scarring, disfigurement, and psychological trauma that lasts long after the attack. If you or a love one suffered injuries in an unprovoked dog attack, you can file a lawsuit for compensation, but you may want a skilled attorney to help you.
Liability for Dog Bites
In the Ocean State, if you are bitten by a dog while it is outside of an enclosed area (such as the owner’s yard), the dog’s keeper or owner is liable for your injuries. It the bite occurs inside of the dog’s enclosure, you must prove that the owner was aware of the dog’s tendency to be vicious in order for the owner to have strict liability for the attack. This can be proven by producing evidence that the dog was involved in previous unprovoked attacks on adults or children.
Under Rhode Island law, it’s important to determine if a dog injured a child or an adult previously and the owner was held liable for those injuries in a lawsuit. If this is true, and the dog causes a subsequent injury and the owner is again held liable, he may be required to pay double the amount of damages.
There are a number of damages you may claim in a dog attack personal injury case. These include:
- Economic damages. These types of damages can include medical costs, lost earnings, diminished future income, and life care.
- Non-economic damages. These types of damages include emotional distress, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
If the victim’s injuries prove fatal, family members may also be entitled to claim damages for wrongful death. In this case, it must be proven that the dog attack victim died as a result of the bites, and the surviving family members have suffered financially due to the death.
If you or your child suffered injuries in an unprovoked dog attack in Rhode Island, our attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum understand the anger, pain, and concerns you are now facing. Our firm has been providing legal services to communities in Providence, Kent, and Washington Counties for more than 80 years. We have a history of proven results. Call us at 401-946-3200, or use our online form to request a free consultation with our dog bite attorneys. Let us help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.
If I file a wrongful death lawsuit, what type of damages can I recover?
It is a tragedy when a loved one loses his life due to the negligence or recklessness of another individual or company. This type of fatal injury may be the result of a car or truck accident or an injury in the workplace. In these situations, you and your family may be able to file a wrongful death claim. The purpose of such a lawsuit is to seek damages for the loss of your spouse or family member. The claim may be established for:
- The spouse and children of the decedent
- The spouse if there are no children
- Other legal heirs if there is no spouse or children (parents or grandparents)
A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against:
- An individual
- An employer or employee
- A company
- A government agency
Wrongful death can cause serious financial problems, including funeral costs and medical bills. There are a number of different types of damages you may be able to recover. These include:
- Funeral and burial expenses. The typical cost for a funeral in the U.S. is $7,000-$10,000. You may be able to claim compensation to cover these costs.
- Medical expenses. This applies only if there are any medical expenses related to the final illness or injury of the decedent.
- Lost income. This is a calculation of lost wages and benefits which is determined by the age of the victim, how long he was expected to live, his income when he died, and his projected future income. It may also include the value of services and goods that the victim would have provided, as well as the value of lost benefits such as health insurance and pensions.
- Pain and suffering. This includes damages that are awarded as compensation for the survivors’ emotional suffering, mental anguish, and the loss of emotional support and companionship that the decedent would have provided to surviving family members.
- Punitive damages. These damages are awarded as a means of punishing the individual or party responsible for the wrongful death.
While wrongful death cases can be unpredictable, an experienced attorney who specializes in this field can review your circumstances. He can then help you understand whether you have a case and what compensation you and your family may be entitled to. Find out more about wrongful death lawsuits by calling our wrongful death attorneys on 888-591-9976. We are here to listen and answer all of your questions.