August 2011 Archives

August 30, 2011

Ulnar Nerve Damage in a Car Accident or Slip and Fall

I recently published a post regarding spinal and nerve injuries following an auto accident which in addition to demonstrating the need for an experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorney, highlighted the severity and risk of spinal injury in a serious car accident. Several cases have come into my office recently with nerve damage to other parts of the body, in particular, the ulnar nerve which runs the entire length of the arm.

The ulnar nerve originates at the C8-T1 vertebrae (the neck and upper shoulder region) and travels the entire length of the shoulder to the fingers. The nerve supplies sensation to the forearm, wrist, and the 4th and 5th digit of the hand. It is the largest unprotected, meaning not protected by muscle or bone, nerve in the body making it especially susceptible to injury. An ulnar nerve injury can be sustained in a car accident, motorcycle or bike accident, or slip and fall, especially if there is direct contact between your arm (in particular the elbow) and some other object such as a fall to the floor or being thrown into the dashboard in a car accident. Trauma can cause the nerve to be directly damaged, or entrapped by muscle. The most common form of ulnar nerve entrapment is cubital tunnel syndrome which often requires surgical intervention.

If you have been injured in any kind of accident and experience a loss of sensation, a tingling sensation, or pain in your arm you must seek medical attention. A referral to a neurologist will likely be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of nerve damage. An EMG will most likely be conducted to evaluate the injury. Physical therapy and pain medication may be sufficient to remedy the injury, but serious nerve damage is likely to require surgical intervention. Even following surgery, it is possible to still experience pain and numbness in the affected arm.

These are very serious and often permanent injuries. It can be particularly damaging if the injury is to your dominant hand. As they are want to do, insurance companies often challenge the causal relationship between a fall or car crash and the ulnar nerve injury. It is imperative that you hire an attorney experienced with these types of injury and who is ready to take the case to trial, if necessary to prove your case. If you were involved in some form of accident or injury and have been experiencing arm pain as described in this post discuss your symptoms with your doctor and ask if he or she feels that there is possible nerve damage. In addition, contact my office so that we can discuss your case to see if you have a right to be compensated for your ulnar nerve injury.

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August 23, 2011

Hit and Run Auto Accidents in Rhode Island

Hit and run auto accidents are not uncommon in Rhode Island and I am often asked by clients what are their rights following a hit and run accident. These are complex situations that require you to sit down with a Rhode Island car accident attorney right away to sort out the facts and conduct an investigation.

Generally, if you are involved in a hit and run accident it means that you were not at fault for the collision. People tend not to run when they did nothing wrong. On the other hand, people flee an accident scene for a number of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • They are drunk;
  • Their license is suspended;
  • There is an outstanding warrant from an unrelated matter;
  • They do not have auto insurance;
  • The car belongs to someone else;
  • There are drugs or stolen goods in the car;
  • They know they are at fault and panic.

If you were injured in an accident caused by another person who then fled the scene, you must call the police immediately and offer them as much information as you can regarding the vehicle's description, license plate, etc. Also, if and only if, you are physically able - try to take pictures of the accident scene and your vehicle. Also, attempt to locate witnesses who can corroborate your story and who might be able to give additional details to the police to identify the culprit. Finally, follow-up with a Rhode Island auto accident lawyer. There are two likely scenarios following a hit and run accident:

1) The at-fault driver is later identified and caught

In the best case scenario, the police will be able to identify and locate the other driver even if it is a couple of days after the accident. In this scenario you will proceed as if this was an ordinary auto accident. You and your attorney will notify the at-fault driver's insurance company and proceed with claims for personal injury and property damage. If it turns out that the at-fault driver fled the scene because he or she did not have insurance, then you can proceed through your uninsured motorist coverage.

2) The at-fault driver is never located

This scenario is a little more complicated. You will be able to present a personal injury claim for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering against your own carrier if you have uninsured motorist. If you do not carry uninsured motorist and the other driver is never identified, then unfortunately, there is little that can be done. Also, your Rhode Island auto insurance policy must include collision coverage for repairs to your vehicle. Uninsured property damage coverage does not cover for a hit and run. The reason is that your auto insurance policy requires that it be confirmed that the other driver did NOT have insurance. If the other driver flees the accident never to be seen again then your insurance company cannot confirm that he or she did not have auto insurance. Therefore, you will only be able to repair your vehicle through your collision coverage.

If you proceed through uninsured motorist coverage, then your insurance company steps in the shoes of the at-fault driver's insurance company and will have to pay the damages for your personal injury claim. As you can see, hit and run auto accidents can become quite complex and it is imperative that you speak to an experienced Rhode Island attorney right away to make sure that you preserve your rights.

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August 15, 2011

Subsequent Remedial Measures in Rhode Island

If you are involved in a serious personal injury claim that is on its way to trial in Rhode Island it is important to understand that Rhode Island is the only State in the Country that allows evidence of subsequent remedial measures to suggest negligence on the part of another. My non-attorney readers are probably lost, but I promise to explain why it is important. As a Rhode Island personal injury trial attorney, this rule of evidence gives us a tremendous tool that most of our sister States do not have.

First, the obvious question - what are subsequent remedial measures. These are steps taken by a person to remedy or fix a situation that previously led to injury. For example, if you slip and fall down a flight of stairs in your apartment building because of a broken step and the landowner repairs the step that night - he or she has taken subsequent remedial measures to insure that no one else is injured. The very fact, however, that the landowner needed to do a repair suggests that something was wrong that needed to be fixed. In Rhode Island, according to Rule of Evidence 407, you can use the evidence of the repair to impress upon the jury that something must have been wrong if the person took steps to correct the problem.


When, after an event, measures are taken which, if taken previously, would have made the event less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is admissible.

The Federal Rules of Evidence and the other 49 States do not allow this evidence to be used against a person to demonstrate negligence. Why? Every one else believes that it is better public policy that a person remedy a potentially harmful situation rather than leave it unchanged because he or she is afraid of the repair being used as evidence of negligence at trial. In other words, if a person knows that he may be admitting fault by making necessary repairs, he is less likely to do so and this leaves the possibility that more people may be injured. Therefore, in the Federal Courts and the other 49 States you can only use evidence of subsequent remedial measures to demonstrate ownership of the property and not as evidence of negligence.

This scenario comes up most frequently in Rhode Island slip and fall cases, i.e. a crack in the sidewalk, or a loose stair, or broken rail that causes one to fall and sustain personal injury. If you are aware that the owner took steps to fix the situation, try to obtain pictures of the changes because at your trial in Rhode Island it is admissible evidence.

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August 2, 2011

Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph Lamy Secures Dismissal of Driving to Endanger Charges

This morning in Taunton District Court, Massachusetts and Rhode Island criminal defense attorney Joseph Lamy secured the dismissal of misdemeanor charges for operating to endanger. In Massachusetts, negligent operation of a motor vehicle or driving to endanger, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90, Section 24(1)(h)(2)(a), carries very serious penalties. My client was facing not only the suspension of his license but jail time ranging from a couple of weeks to two years! It may be surprising to know that a traffic violation can result in a criminal record with such serious penalties, but it is true in Massachusetts if you are charged with driving to endanger.

The language of the statute is somewhat ambiguous but you may be charged with this criminal vehicle violation if the police believe your driving was extremely reckless or so dangerous that you put the lives of others at risk. Some examples of this behavior include: racing vehicles, speeds in excess of 20mph over the limit, frequent and rapid lane changes, utter disregard for the safety of others, etc. Some police officers, as in this case with my client, are too quick to turn minor traffic violations into criminal offenses and for this reason, these charges should always be fought aggressively in Court by an attorney.

My client had not committed any of the violations that would make him subject to this charge and we were able to prove this to the district attorney resulting in a dismissal of all charges (including the speeding ticket!). This case arose out of an auto accident. My client was operating with the right of way when another driver took a left turn in front of my client, failing to yield the right of way. The impact was significant and substantial damage was caused to both vehicles. Based on the physical damages alone, and on some other questionable evidence, the officer charged my client with driving to endanger. The officer did not witness the accident. No accident reconstruction was completed and no engineer was brought to the scene to examine the vehicles. Despite the absence of any tangible evidence, the officer charged my client criminally with driving in excess of 20mph over the speed limit.

I was able to successfully convince the Taunton District Attorney that they could never reach their required standard of proof, namely, that my client was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We showed that the case was built on questionable evidence and located and interviewed independent witnesses who confirmed that my client was driving approximately 40-45 mph (the speed limit was 40). Finally, this morning we gained the judge's approval to dismiss all charges.

My office also represents this client for personal injuries sustained in this car accident. Not only did we successfully dismiss all of the criminal charges that my client is facing but we have convinced the other woman's insurance company to accept responsibility and pay for all of my client's damages.

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