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Personal Injury FAQs

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When you have been injured by the neglectful actions of others, you may need legal representation. We provide the below FAQs to answer questions you may have.
 
For a free consultation, contact the attorneys at Gemma Law Associates to review your case.

 

Personal Injury

What is personal injury?

The term “personal injury” is a broad one that encompasses any kind of accident or occurrence that leads to an injury of the body or mind. It is also an area of law designed to protect and compensate those harmed by the negligence, recklessness, malpractice or inaction of others. Examples include:

What is negligence?

We all have an obligation to be careful in our actions to avoid harming ourselves and those around us. When a person’s carelessness causes injury to another, they are said to have been negligent. Simply put, negligence under the law is the failure to use the reasonable care that other reasonable people would use under the same circumstances. In order to be successful in a negligence claim, an injured person must prove that he was owed a legal duty by the person who caused the harm (the defendant) and that the defendant’s breach of the duty caused the injury. If the injury would not have occurred without the breach of that duty, then the defendant is liable for the damage caused by the breach. The person who was injured must also prove the amount of his or her damages.

Is there any other basis for personal injury liability besides negligence?

Yes. Some individuals or companies may be held “strictly liable” for certain activities that harm others, even if they did not act negligently or maliciously. For example, a person injured by a defective product can recover compensation from the manufacturer or seller of the product without showing that the manufacturer or seller was actually negligent. In limited instances, civil personal injury lawsuits can be pursued in addition to criminal charges under the principle of an intentional wrong, also known as an “intentional tort.” An experienced personal injury lawyer should be consulted to determine which theory of liability applies to the facts of a particular case.

How soon after I am injured should I file a lawsuit?

If you have been a victim of a personal injuryaccident, you have a limited amount of time in which to file a claim. This time period, known as a statute of limitations, varies from claim to claim and from state to state. All jurisdictions allow victims at least one year from the date of injury or the date the personal injury was discovered to file a lawsuit. In Rhode Island, the statute of limitations is typically three years for a negligence action. If you miss the deadline for filing your case, you may lose your legal right to damages for your injury. Consequently, it is important to talk with a lawyeras soon as you suffer or discover an injury.

Do I have a personal injury case?

You were in an accident– perhaps a car accident, construction accident, or a slip and fall accident.  You were injured.  While you may feel that another person is responsible for your accident and your injuries, you may not be sure if you have a personal injury case.  There are 4 factors that must exist in order for you to have a case:  you must have suffered an injury, you injury must be the fault of another person, there must be source of financial recovery, and your claim must not be too old.  For the opinion of a qualified and experienced legal team, turn to the Rhode Island law firm of Gemma Law Associates, Inc.  We will thoroughly evaluate your case and develop the most effective strategy to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. We represent clients throughout the state of Rhode Island, including Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, Bristol, Woonsocket  and Warwick.  For immediate legal assistance in Providence or throughout Rhode Island, contact Gemma Law Associates, Inc. today at 855-631-1448.

  1. Do you have an injury?  You must have an injury that can be documented by a medical professional.  It is not enough to say that your back hurts or that you have a headache.  Your injury must be diagnosed, treated and formally documented by a medical professional.  In other words, you have to show that you are not pretending to be injured.
  2. Was the accident another person’s fault?  Your injury cannot be purely due to your own negligence.  For example, if you are walking down the street texting and accidently walk into a telephone pole, ending up with a huge gash on your forehead, only you are at fault.  As Rhode Island is a pure comparative negligence state, in order for you to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit another person must have been at least partially at fault.  Even if you were 99% at fault and another person 1%, it is possible for your to recover damages.  However, your damage award will be reduced by the amount of your fault  compared to the fault of the other person.
  3. Is there a source of recovery?  In order to have a claim, there must be a source of recovery to pay any damages that you are awarded should you prevail.   Typically, the money will come from insurance such as auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, malpractice insurance, or business insurance.
  4. Have you waited too long?  Your accident must have occurred within the past 3 years.  With a few exceptions, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Rhode Island is 3 years from the date of the injury.  If you fail to bring your claim within that time period, your case will be considered stale and you will be forever barred from bringing your claim.  This is so even if evidence overwhelmingly points to someone else as the cause of your injuries.

Once it is established that you do have a claim, you may wonder how much your claim is worth.  While it is hard to assess the amount of damages to expect, factors that will impact a personal injury damage award include:

  1. Seriousness of Injury.  In any personal injury case, the successful plaintiff will be awarded compensation to cover past, and in some cases, future medical expenses.  The more severe the injury, the more you will be awarded for medical expenses.
  2. Your Job.  Another common component to a damage award is lost wages.  The higher your income was at the time of the injury, the higher your damage award for lost wages.  If you are not able to continue work at the same type of job earning the same money, you may also receive compensation for loss of earning capacity.
  3. Type of Injury.  Some injuries are particularly painful, incapacitating or disfiguring such that you may be awarded a significant sum for pain and suffering.  For example, if your injury results in a limb being amputated or a permanent scar on your face, you will likely receive more for pain and suffering then if you broke your arm.
  4. Shocking Behavior.  Your total award may also include punitive damages.  Punitive damages are occasionally awarded in cases where the actions of the defendant that caused the victim’s injuries, were so shocking, so egregious that the court feels that defendant needs to be “punished.”   Examples, of egregious or shocking behavior is drunk driving.
  5. Source of recovery.  The amount of insurance or other resources available will impact the amount of award.  If the pockets are deep, the award is likely to be higher.  If an employee of a local superstore is negligent causing you to be injured, while you could sue that the minimum wage employee, it would be more lucrative to sue the superstore as you would be able to recover more money.

We Can Help You Decide

Do you think you might have a valid personal injury claim? The Providence, Rhode Island law firm of Gemma Law Associates, Inc. will thoroughly evaluate your case and provide you with all your legal options.  Contact Gemma Law Associates, Inc. today at 855-631-1448.

 

What are actual damages?

Damages that cover all financial expenses and all ailments associated with the personal injury are known as actual or compensatory damages. Actual damages refers to the amount of money it would take to fully compensate you and place you in the same position you would have been in had the injury never happened. This includes:

  • Earning capacity impairment.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of profits.
  • Lost wages.
  • Medical bills.
  • Mental impairment.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Permanent disability.

What are punitive damages?

Punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit when the defendant’s conduct has been especially reckless or egregious. Punitive damages are awarded separately and in addition to compensatory damages. They are intended as a punishment for the defendant and a deterrent to others who might engage in similar actions.

Will I be able to recover compensation if I was partly at fault?

Many factors go into determining the value of a case including who was at fault for the accident, the extent of the damages and the amount of insurance held by the defendant. In personal injury lawsuits, a settlement may be made if an agreement about the case’s worth can be reached with the insurance company. If not, the case must be presented to the trial court to determine its value. Considerable compensation may be obtained if your injuries are severe, permanent, require extensive medical treatment and cause absences from work.

What is my personal injury lawsuit worth?

Many factors go into determining the value of a case including who was at fault for the accident, the extent of the damages and the amount of insurance held by the defendant. In personal injury lawsuits, a settlement may be made if an agreement about the case’s worth can be reached with the insurance company. If not, the case must be presented to the trial court to determine its value. Considerable compensation may be obtained if your injuries are severe, permanent, require extensive medical treatment and cause absences from work.

Should I deal directly with the insurance company?

Insurance companies may not give you a fair assessment of the value of your case. As businesses, insurance companies collect as many premiums as possible and pay out as few claims as possible. An attorney’s expertise is particularly vital for accident victims when an insurance company is trying to settle the case.