Rhode Island Personal Injury Law FAQS and Automobile

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Question: Should I negotiate with the insurance adjuster myself without the help of an attorney to settle a Rhode Island personal injury, slip and fall, or automobile/auto/car accident case?

Answers: No. Representing yourself and negotiating with an insurance adjuster is usually not a good idea! You are often unaware of your case’s full value because you are not an attorney and have not handled personal injury matters before. The insurance adjuster may take advantage of your inexperience. Insurance adjusters typically will offer much less money to a person representing themselves than to an attorney representing a client. (Article by David Slepkow 401-437-1100) Furthermore, when you describe yourself in a Rhode Island personal injury or slip and fall case, the insurance company knows you do not know how to litigate a lawsuit. Therefore you don’t have as much leverage with the insurance adjuster.

Question: How do Rhode Island personal injury lawyers charge for personal injury /automobile/ car accident and slip and fall cases?

Answer: Most lawyers In Rhode Island take personal injury, premises liability, dog bite cases, slip and fall, and auto/car accidents on a contingent fee basis. Article by David slepton (401-437-1100) This means that the lawyers do not collect any fees unless they successfully settle your personal injury case or win a verdict at trial. The lawyer typically will take the case costs from the settlement or verdict at the end of the case. Most attorneys advance case costs.


Question: How does the process work if I hire a Rhode Island personal injury attorney?

Answer: You should retain a RI personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the automobile or other accident. At the first meeting, the attorney typically will get all the important information concerning the accident, including, but not limited to, the names of the witnesses, all injuries, and the treating physician and doctors.

The attorney may want to visit the actual scene of the accident or slip and fall to get further perspective on how the accident occurred. The lawyer should see the accident scene and interview potential witnesses if the case is a slip-and-fall. If you have any pictures of the accident scene, your damaged automobile, or the resulting injuries, it is usually a good idea to show those to the lawyer.

If your lawyer is interested in taking the case, they will typically enter into a contingent fee personal injury fee agreement with you. You will need to provide a list of the names and addresses of all witnesses. Your lawyer will also ask you for all treating physicians’ names and addresses and the names and addresses of all hospitals and dining facilities. The lawyer will ask you to sign medical releases under federal law, allowing your lawyer to collect your medical bills and medical records concerning your injury from your health care provider.

The attorney will be very interested in knowing whether or not you have health insurance and the extent of your health insurance coverage. If your health insurance plan covers your medical bills, they typically have a lien against any settlement proceeds you receive. Your lawyer, on your behalf, must repay your health insurance company from the proceeds of any settlement or verdict you receive. These liens typically can be negotiated with the health insurance company. Some insurance companies will naturally lower their lien by 25% to 33% to account for your attorney’s work on the case.

Sometimes, you can further reduce the lien if liability or damage is in dispute. Typically your lawyer will not be able to disburse any monies to you until he has paid the insurance company for the lien amount. After the initial consultation and after you have retained the personal injury lawyer, the lawyer will typically do an investigation, if necessary, by calling witnesses, reviewing police reports, or doing anything else that is necessary to further your case. The attorney may need to read relevant Rhode Island negligence case law to evaluate your personal injury case’s merits. The attorney will collect your medical records and billing records. Obtaining your billing records for the medical providers’ accident is extremely important because the amount of medical bills you have is a critical factor in determining your case’s ultimate value for settlement or trial purposes.


Your attorney typically will wait until they believe you have reached a certain point in your medical treatment before he makes an offer to the insurance company to settle your personal injury case. Attorneys are typically concerned that they will pay the case before knowing the full extent of a person’s injuries. After an automobile accident case is fixed and the release is signed, further damages cannot be paid, even if your injuries become substantially more severe. Therefore, it is usually not a good idea to settle the personal injury case before knowing the extent of your injuries in the future. Your back, neck, shoulder, or leg injury could worsen over time.

After the lawyer meets with you, he will typically send a letter of representation to all the insurance companies involved giving them general information about the case. The insurance company will open a personal injury case file and respond to your attorney. Insurance companies are required by law to investigate the facts and look into the potential personal injury cause of action. When the attorney is comfortable that the right time has arrived, they typically send a settlement package to the insurance company. This settlement letter usually includes an evaluation of the permanency of the injury, if any, and describes the pain and suffering of the client and any lost wages and medical bills incurred. The attorney typically includes an initial demand for settlement of the case in the settlement package.

The insurance company will usually reply to the letter with either an offer to settle the case or a denial of liability. Suppose the insurance company denies liability in the personal injury case and refuses to pay anything. In that case, the attorney will have no choice but to file a lawsuit to seek damages. If a settlement offer is made to the attorney, there will usually be a negotiation period to see if the parties can agree to a settlement amount.

Suppose the parties cannot agree to a settlement amount. In that case, it may be necessary to file a personal injury/ negligence lawsuit in either of the Rhode Island District Courts of Rhode Island Superior Court. In Rhode Island (RI), most personal injury, automobile accident, premises liability, and slip and fall cases are handled in Rhode Island Superior Court because matters over $10,000.00 in Rhode Island must be heard in Superior Court.

Question: What happens next if my Rhode Island personal injury attorney cannot settle my car accident case with the insurance adjuster?

Answer: If the attorney cannot settle the case with the insurance adjuster, then filing a lawsuit in court is necessary. The process of a Rhode Island personal injury civil lawsuit can take up to a few years to resolve. Your lawyer will file a complaint in court alleging negligence or other causes of action, asking the court to award you damages. After the complaint is filed, the insurance company typically hires an attorney to represent the insured. The insurance company’s lawyer will file an answer to the case.

There is usually a discovery period after the complaint and answer are filed. The parties can send interrogatories to each other, which are written questions the other party must answer. The parties can also take depositions of witnesses when the other lawyer asks you questions about the case in front of a stenographer. After the discovery period, there may be a motion to dismiss or motions for summary judgment filed by either party. If the case is not dismissed or summarily decided, then the case will proceed to trial. The average time for a lawsuit in Rhode Island is about two years. However, the time for the suit could vary depending on how complicated the case is, the availability of witnesses, and the number of points on the docket.

Question: How do I obtain evidence of my injury in Rhode Island?

Answer: Please take photographs of all injuries, including, but not limited to, cuts, bruises, and broken bones. Do not wait too long after the accident. Please do your best to obtain the witness names, addresses, phone numbers, and other information to give to your Rhode Island personal injury attorney. Please keep records of out-of-pocket expenses for your medical bills, lost wages, and additional costs, such as medication and medical accessories. You must keep accurate records to provide them to the insurance company. Suppose your injury was caused by a whiplash injury caused by a rear-end accident. In that case, you might need to hire an expert to testify on your behalf about the seriousness of upper and lower back damages caused by whiplash.

Question: Will my Rhode Island personal injury lawyer keep what I tell him confidential?

Answer: In Rhode Island, there is an attorney-client privilege. Your attorney is prohibited from disclosing confidential information you do not want him to admit to others. There are certain limited exceptions to the attorney-client privilege, which usually do not apply.

Question: What costs are typically incurred in Rhode Island (RI) personal injury cases?

Answer: Your lawyer incurs Out-of-pocket costs to settle or litigate your case properly. The lawyer usually advances the out-of-pocket expenses. Medical providers typically charge a nominal fee to copy your medical records. Most doctors also charge a fee to write a comprehensive medical report detailing your course of treatment, injury prognosis, and whether or not your injuries are permanent. If it is necessary to have a doctor testify at the trial of your case, the doctor may charge a substantial fee for his attendance.

Another example of out-of-pocket expenses you may incur is a filing fee for filing the complaint in Providence/kent / Newport or Washington County Superior Court and the price for the personal injury complaint process service. The number of costs incurred in your case varies from case to point and depends on how complicated your personal injury case is. The more serious your injuries are, the more out-of-pocket expenses may be incurred. Most attorneys will get prior approval before incurring a substantial cost on your behalf.

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