March 13, 2012

To No One's Surprise, Americans are Unlikely to Dine at Restaurants with a History of Slip and Falls

A recent study has highlighted the foreseeable fact that Americans are far less likely to dine in restaurants in which a known slip and fall accident has occurred. The study, conducted in an effort to show restaurant owners the heavy cost of slip and fall accidents, indicated that one in three Americans would be unlikely to dine at a restaurant where someone was injured in a slip and fall. Cintas corporation, the group behind the study, has long held that slip and fall accidents increase costs from litigation, damages and increased insurance premiums, but this study also highlights an additional loss from loss of revenue and business.

It seems an odd study because most people would be unaware that a slip and fall recently occurred at a restaurant unless the injuries were incredibly severe. Nevertheless, it does demonstrate the importance of properly caring for a property or appropriately warning visitors of dangers on the property. The study did reveal an astonishing fact, namely that more than one million patrons are injured in slip and fall accidents at American restaurants each year! Slip and fall accidents are often serious resulting in broken bones, head injuries and in some cases spinal injuries. This means a potentially large loss in damages and a huge increase in insurance premiums.

A property owner is responsible for injuries to visitors on their property caused by the owner's negligence or failure to warn. In other words, if the property is not properly maintained (i.e. broken railings, loose steps, holes and craters in the pavement, etc) and leads to a person's injury, then the owner will likely be responsible for the personal injury damages including but not limited to medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. A property owner may not be held responsible if he or she can show that they made reasonable efforts to warn visitors of the danger or if he or she was genuinely unaware that the danger existed.

Slip and fall accidents are complex cases and often require litigation and an experienced personal injury attorney. Litigation is the result of the defense arguing that the property was not defective or because the severity of the injuries results in a battle over appropriate settlement amounts. For whatever reason a case like this may end up in litigation, you need to hire an attorney who is experienced in trying complex slip and fall cases. My law office has this experience and is ready to fight for all of the money that you deserve.

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March 6, 2012

Who Is at Fault in an Accident if One of the Drivers Falls Ill or Blacks Out

This weekend's fatal accident in Coventry between Randy Moore and Stephen Volpe has brought to our attention a very scary possibility that occurs quite often in serious auto accidents. Rhode Island news outlets are reporting that Mr. Moore was not feeling well and was actually driving himself to the hospital at the time of the accident. He complained of chest pains to his sister and an eyewitness to the auto accident noticed that Mr. Moore had slumped over the steering wheel just prior to the accident. Once unconscious, his vehicle drifted over the center lane and caused a head-on collision with Mr. Volpe. Mr. Moore, unfortunately, did not survive the accident and prayers go out to his family.

It is not as uncommon as one may think that a driver passes out or falls asleep at the steering wheel while driving leading to a serious car accident. I recently settled a claim for a client under almost exactly the same circumstances. In my case, an elderly man suffered a heart attack on Phenix Avenue in Cranston, drifted over the center lane and struck my client, an elderly woman, head-on. She suffered very serious injuries as a result of the accident.

In these situations, the driver who blacks out or passes out at the wheel, is civilly responsible for the damages sustained in a car accident. Even though they were not actively negligent in causing the accident, and even though it occurred through no "fault" of their own, they will be responsible to the injured party. Every time that we get behind the wheel of a car we are responsible to everyone else on the road and we must ensure that we are physically healthy and alert enough to operate a vehicle. Even if the illness is unforeseeable, the burden remains on each driver to operate their vehicle in a safe and courteous manner at all times. It is not unlike the driver who, despite his or her best efforts, loses control of their car in the snow, or the driver whose brakes fail leading to an accident. In these circumstances, the at-fault driver was not "actively" negligent. Nevertheless, they have breached their duty to operate the vehicle safely and are, therefore, liable for any and all damages. Insurance companies will accept liability under these circumstances and pay the claims.

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February 29, 2012

Understanding the Arbitration Process

If you have an experienced and aggressive Rhode Island personal injury attorney, your case may have ended up in litigation. There are two major reasons reasons why a personal injury case goes to litigation: 1) the offer of settlement is not high enough; or, 2) the insurance company is not accepting 100% liability. If you enter litigation there is a very strong chance that your attorney may attempt arbitration before the case goes all the way to trial.

Arbitration is compulsive under the Rhode Island Rules of Civil Procedure, however, the decision is not binding. What this means essentially is that either side (plaintiff or defendant) can force the two parties to at least try arbitration, but neither side is compelled to accept the award if they are dissatisfied. You can have your case removed from the arbitration process if the amount in contention is in excess of $100,000.00.

Arbitration can be a highly effective tool for resolving difficult cases without the huge amount of money and time that a full civil trial that would require. At an arbitration, both sides will agree on a neutral party to serve as "judge". Each side submits an arbitration memorandum complete with their argument, exhibits, affidavits and any other evidence that they would like to present or have considered by the arbiter. Then there will be an actual hearing during which time each side will state their case while presenting evidence and witnesses. It is a very informal "trial" in that sense. Arbitrations can be either simple with one or two witnesses or they can be incredibly complex with several witnesses, including experts and dozens of exhibits.

Within 2 weeks the arbiter will make his decision in writing. The decision will include a dollar amount along with some thoughts and notes on the topic to explain why the arbiter came to the decision that he did. Arbitration is a relatively quick and painless process that might result in a speedy aid to ongoing litigation. If your case is going to arbitration or may be eligible for arbitration speak to your personal injury attorney to discuss the process.

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February 27, 2012

Investigation Uncovers Nursing Home Abuses and Violations

Anyone watching the news on NBC 10 may have seen an investigative report this afternoon uncovering nursing home abuses and violations across Rhode Island but in particular at the Pawtuxet Village Care and Rehabilitation Center in Warwick. The investigation began with news that the Rhode Island Department of Health was investigating an allegation that one of the residents may have been overdosed at Pawtuxet Village.

Once the investigation began, it was quickly discovered that there were dozens of complaints of patient violations at Pawtuxet Village, many of which were related to improper medication and dosing and improper transfer of patients. Some of the complaints also dealt with abuse and involuntary seclusion of patients.

For the meantime, the Rhode Island Department of Health has ordered Pawtuxet Village to stop admitting new clients. Inspectors said they found several quality-of-care issues at the facility, including problems with pain management, fall prevention, pressure ulcers, and range-of-motion issues.

These are very serious allegations. Unfortunately, all of these problems are classic examples of nursing home abuse and neglect. Overmedication, the primary complaint in NBC 10's investigation, is a serious problem in nursing homes because it is means by which they keep the patients "quiet" and "under control." A sedated and overmedicated patient is unlikely to complain or require much attention. Instead the become like "zombies" - the same term that the family who lodged the initial complaint against Pawtuxet Village used for the condition of their father.

Senior care centers and retirement homes have a major responsibility to care for the health and wellbeing of our elderly. Unfortunately, many of them ignore this responsibility because too many patients do not have actively involved families to speak out about these injustices and because too many patients are too sick of body or mind to be able to speak up for themselves.

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February 14, 2012

Allstate Commercials Trying to Convince You They're Not So Bad!

For an insurance company that has been named the worst insurance company in America almost every year for the past decade by the American Association for Justice, I find it amusing that their current advertising campaign is aimed at customer satisfaction. First they have introduced the Claims guarantee, and I will go out on a limb and say that if they do not change their current practices, this program will be gone within a year because the number of unsatisfied clients will cost the program hundreds of millions. Second, they have a funny little commercial in which an executive driving a luxury car is rear-ended by a scruffy looking college kid. The executive is "scared" that the kid might have "cut-rate" insurance but is miraculously relieved to find out that the kid has Allstate insurance.

The executive in the commercial should hang his head in despair that he has to try and obtain the money and damages he deserves from a company that has a claims process intent on frustrating, delaying and under-cutting claimants entitled to damages.

Why is Allstate the worst company to deal with if you have been in a car accident? Despite the insurance companies contractual obligation to protect their insureds by paying claims for which they are liable, Allstate endlessly delays the process and when forced to make an offer of settlement, often makes an offer far below the value of the claim. Even when a lawsuit has been filed, Allstate will drag out the litigation process often taking the case all the way to the end before making a reasonable offer. They reject the offers of arbitrators or mediators if the award is above their valuation of the claim. Why do they do this? Insurance companies make money by investing the premiums paid into it. The longer that an insurance company can hold onto that premium money, the better the return on their investment. They also employ these tactics because they know that they can wear out many plaintiffs who will accept less than fair value for their claim merely to "get it over with."

When new clients come to my office following an auto accident with an Allstate insured, I tell them that there is a good chance of litigation if they do not want to settle for little money. You have to fight companies that employ these kinds of tactics and if you have been injured by an Allstate insured, you need to hire an attorney who is able and ready to fight these tough cases. Contact my office right away for a free consultation. I like Dennis Haybert as an actor myself, but don't let him convince you that the "good hands" company is anything but the worst.

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February 10, 2012

School Zone and School Bus Accidents

A school bus company in Cincinnati settled a wrongful death lawsuit for Five Million Dollars, after a teenager was struck and killed in a tragic accident. The accident and settlement highlights the fact that despite ample measures taken to prevent accidents in and around school buses, serious or potentially fatal accidents can occur. In this Ohio case, the family for the deceased alleged that the driver failed to adequately defrost and clean his windshield making it impossible to see the young man whom he struck and killed.

The statistics for school bus related accidents are quite alarming. When accidents occur, they are often very serious or fatal because of the extreme weight and size of a school bus. Also, the number of people injured in a single accident is much higher due to the capacity of a school bus. Each year thousands of people are injured in school bus accidents.

School bus companies and drivers have a very large responsibility because they are carrying small (and often impulsive children). Stop signs and bus monitors have become commonplace over the last 10-20 years to prevent accidents involving children and school buses, but they still occur. Some of the causes for school bus related car accidents include:

  • Poor driver training
  • Insufficient care and maintenance of the bus
  • Overcrowding of the bus
  • Driving in dangerous or inclement weather (much like in the above mentioned Ohio case)
  • Driver distraction from children inside the bus
  • Aggressive driving or speeding

School buses are one of the largest large vehicle carriers in the United States. Every day tens of millions of students are transported to and from school on buses. Accidents, sometimes serious, can and will occur. If your child was injured in an accident involving a school bus, contact my office right away.

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February 8, 2012

Neck and Back Injuries and Car Accidents

As a Rhode Island and Massachusetts personal injury attorney I have handled many, many whiplash injuries caused by car accidents. The term "whiplash" refers to the rapid and forceful movement of the neck backwards and/or forwards following a car crash. This sudden and forceful movement can cause strains and/or sprains to the muscles around the neck and back resulting in significant pain.

Despite my vast experience representing injured clients with soft tissue injuries, I still come across articles or information that give me a greater understanding of the injuries and how they are caused. I recently came across an article by Dr. Jay Lipoff, a New York Chiropractor, which opened my eyes to a few things that I feel are worth sharing.

Like Dr. Lipoff, I often see clients and potential clients down-playing the severity of their whiplash injury following a car accident. Clients often say "it's not too bad" or the injury is "nothing major". I believe this comes in part because we tend to ignore our own health or believe that the pain will go away quickly when in reality serious, sometimes, permanent injury has occurred. Sometimes, potential clients believe that any injury short of a broken bone is not worth pursuing against the insurance company. Remember, you have a valid and important injury claim if you suffered whiplash.

As Dr. Lipoff points out, it is next to impossible for the soft tissue of a human body to be OK after an auto accident when steel and metal is nearly destroyed. If a 2500 pound car is seriously damaged, it is safe to assume that the 180 pound person inside the vehicle, whether seat-belted or not, is going to be hurt. From the article:

"The impact to the driver is 2.5 times greater than the force to the vehicle itself. So whatever damage you see to the vehicle, realize the force to your body was 2.5 times greater. Changes of speed of only 2.5 miles an hour during crash tests caused occupants symptoms of soft tissue injuries; whereas damage to a vehicle may not be seen until 8.7 mph."

We are not so invincible as we sometimes believe, and the soft tissue and muscles of our body are particularly prone to injury in an auto accident. It is important to remember, that although common, soft tissue or whiplash injuries, are serious injuries that require the help of an experienced car accident attorney. If you have suffered a whiplash injury following an auto accident, seek the proper medical treatment for your injuries and call our office for a free consultation.

February 1, 2012

Pfizer Recalling Approximately 1 Million Birth Control Pills

Pfizer today announced that it is recalling two kinds of oral contraception because some of the packages had the pills in the wrong order. Obviously, while attempting to avoid unwanted pregnancy it is absolutely imperative that the person take the proper dose at the right time. Because the packages were filled with the wrong dose at the incorrect time, the drug may prove ineffective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. It is possible that some women have unwillingly become pregnant.

The effected medicines are Lo/Ovral-28 or generic norgestrel/ethinyl estradiol pills. Any woman currently taken these medications should contact their ob/gyn immediately and contact the pharmacy that filled the prescription so that the recalled drugs may be replaced. If you became pregnant while taking these recalled drugs, it is imperative that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away. If it can be established that the unwanted pregnancy was caused by the negligence of Pfizer you may be entitled to significant compensation.

It has been a tough couple of months for birth control drugs. Yaz, in particular, has been hit with hundreds of lawsuits claiming that it causes dangerous bloodclots and also results in other unwanted and dangerous side effects. In addition, the FDA has indicated that its dosage may be too low to adequately prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Drug makers profit heavily by pushing drugs on our society and they must be held to a very high standard of quality control and safety, else we are putting ourselves at serious risk of harm.

January 25, 2012

Fatal Maulings and Dog Attacks Are Rising Exponentially

A comprehensive thirty year examination of dog maulings and fatal dog attacks has shown an exponential increase in attacks. The study focused primarily on pitbulls who are notorious for the frequency and severity of their bites and attacks. The facts and numbers are indisputable.

During the first ten years of the study there was a total of 103 reported pit bull attacks in the United States. Fast forward to 2002 in which there were 86 attacks in that year alone (almost as much as an entire decade in the 80's). Ten years later, in the our most recent year of 2011 there was a total of 295 attacks, roughly three times as many dog attacks as there were only ten years earlier. Amazingly, 26% of all attacks during this thirty year study occurred in the last two years alone! 41% of all disfigurements caused by pitbull attack occurred in the last four years of the study.

Consistent with other reports on dog bites and maulings, the majority of these attacks occur to children. Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of all animal attacks, again confirmed in this report, occur to children. In 2011, 102 children were attacked and/or maimed by a pit bull.

The most serious pitbull attacks can lead to death. Roughly ten percent of all reported dog attacks were fatal. Interestingly, in the first decade of the study from 1982 to 1992 there were only 18 reported fatalities, whereas in 2011 there were 23 reported deaths from dog attack. That is five more in a single year than in an entire decade thirty years ago. In fact 65% of all pitbull fatalities occured in the last ten years of the study.

I know many animal rights activist will take issue with such studies and cite other studies which show that animals are not inherently dangerous animals but are only raised that way. In fact, a very close friend of mine is a pitbull breeder. The numbers, however, seem to paint a very different picture.

Victims of dog bite attacks are entitled to:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost wages and/or loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Compensation for scarring and disfigurement
  • Compensation for embarrassment and emotional distress caused by the scars
  • Loss of consortium

Most dog bite cases in Rhode Island and Massachusetts will be covered by the owner's homeowner insurance.

My office has represented many dog bite victims with tremendous success. Clients have included those with minor scars and wounds to arm maulings that required extensive reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. If you or a friend or family member contact an experienced dog bite attorney. Call my office for a free no pressure consultation.

January 17, 2012

2.7 Million Dollar Settlement in Fatal ATV Crash

ATV accidents often lead to catastrophic injury or even death, and a recent settlement from a case in Pennsylvania highlights the danger of ATV accidents. A 19 year old college student was killed when an ATV driven by another young man, allegedly intoxicated, flipped over ejecting both operator and passenger. The passengers injuries were fatal. The family has now settled their lawsuit for 2.7 million dollars.

Unfortunately, this case was only one of the nearly 1000 people who die each year from ATV accidents. Another 150,000 people are seen, on average, each year at emergency rooms from ATV related accidents.

If you are injured in an ATV accident, you should know that there may very well be coverage for your personal injuries. ATVs are often independently insured or may be covered by homeowners insurance. With coverage you are entitled to past and future medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. In this case, it appears that the family successfully went after several homeowners who had supplied the underage driver of the ATV with alcohol which led to the fatal accident.

ATV accident cases can be complex and you need an attorney with the experience to handle such cases and look for every dollar available to you. If you or someone you know was injured in an ATV accident contact our office right away for a free consultation.

January 12, 2012

Old Sexist Opinions About Female Driving Now Debunked

The sexist cliche is that women are worse drivers than men. Female drivers have been fodder for stand-up comedians and bumper stickers for many years, but an online insurance survey has shown that men are far worse drivers than women and cause more accidents and more serious auto accidents than women.

This study has revealed that more than 80 percent of all fatal auto accidents are caused by men and that more men die in motor vehicle accidents than women. Statistics from a recent calendar year show that men were involved in approximately 6.1 million car accidents while women in the same calendar year were involved in 4.4 million car crashes. According to these numbers, women are 27 percent less likely to be involved in an auto accident.

It is not only in the number of accidents in which men look worse than women. Men lead almost every category of poor driving including speeding tickets and other violations such as failure to yield and men outnumber women in the number of DUIs by a factor of 3 to 1.

There is no clear explanation for results like these. Perhaps it is testosterone. Nevertheless, insurance statistics year after year show that women are, in fact, much better and safer drivers than men. The results show up in auto insurance quotes as well where the average woman pays $698 for insurance and a man pays $765 for the same length policy.

January 5, 2012

Truck Rollover and Personal Injury Claims

Truck accidents, in particular, truck rollover accidents are among the most serious vehicular accidents on the road and often result in serious personal injury or wrongful death. Truck rollover can occur to both commercial vehicles and private use vehicles. In some circumstances they can also result in a product liability case if the tire and/or truck was negligently designed.

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Commercial Truck Rollover Cases

Commerical tractor trailers are all over the road at all times of the day. They can be incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons. For one, tractor trailers are often carrying loads in excess of 50,000 pounds. This tremendous weight makes the vehicle difficult to maneuver or take evasive action if necessary. The stopping time and turning time of a long 18-wheeler carrying a ton of weight is very long. If the truck driver makes too hasty a motion in the vehicle it can cause all or part of the tractor trailer to capsize or rollover causing a potentially very serious accident.

Commercial truck rollovers may also occur because the driver is too tired to safely operate his vehicle, yet stays on the road in an effort to meet a deadline or finish a job on time. Commercial truck drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel causing them to jackknife or run off the road. All too often, other drivers on the road are unable to avoid collision with these incredibly large vehicles.

Truck Rollovers in Personal Use Vehicles

SUVs and other non-commercial trucks have also had a long history of rollovers in accidents. While newer model SUVs and crossovers have a more stable weight balance and are less likely to rollover, the danger of a rollover remains, particularly in older SUVs. SUVs are trucks and can not be driven like a car. They are much heavier, possess different weight distributions, and may be "top heavy" when compared to other automobiles. Quick lane changes, sudden movements or slamming on the brakes may cause an SUV to rollover. When rollover occurs, the injuries to the driver and passengers are likely to be much more serious than in an ordinary motor vehicle accident.

SUV Rollover and Product Liability Claims

If you were injured in an SUV rollover, like any other auto accident, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation through your auto insurance or the at-fault driver's auto insurance. In addition, however, if it appears that the SUV had a negligent design causing an unnecessary rollover of the vehicle, you may also have a product liability claim. Product liability cases regarding SUV design have included: improper seatbelt design, failure of airbag to deploy, insufficient strength and design to the roof causing roof collapse, tire blowouts, poor stability design, poorly designed stability systems and ineffective braking systems among others.

If the SUV rollover was not caused exclusively by driver error, there may be a product liability case in addition to damages recovered from the auto insurance policies.

Continue reading "Truck Rollover and Personal Injury Claims" »

December 10, 2011

Property Damage Claims Following an Auto Accident

The overwhelming majority of posts on this blog concern personal injuries and related questions. It has occurred to me that a lot of people may have questions about the other half of a car accident claim, namely, the damage to your vehicle. Unlike many personal injury attorneys, if you were hurt in a car crash, my office will assist you with the property damage portion of your claim for free. Many attorneys do not want to get involved with the property damage portion of your claim and tell you that they will only represent you for the personal injury. In my opinion, that is doing only half the job and leaving far too much work on the shoulders of the client.

That said, what are your rights regarding the repair and/or valuation of your vehicle? Let's talk about the two most common scenarios: If your car is a total loss or if it is repairable.

IF YOUR CAR IS A TOTAL LOSS

A total loss means that the damage to your car would cost more to repair than the vehicle is worth. If it is a total loss, the insurance company will determine a value for your vehicle. Rhode Island Department of Business Regulations (DBR) 73 §7A(2) states that "insurers shall use as guide, the average retail values indicated by the NADA official Used Car Guide, or some service substantially similar." So if you are curious what the value of your vehicle is, you can start by checking NADA.com. Remember that you may lose value if your car has excessive wear and tear or high mileage.

If the car is totalled the insurance company will only authorize approximately 7-10 days of rental because they argue that they are not required to wait indefinitely while you search for a new car. Also, keep in mind, that if your car was towed and in storage that you are accruing storage fees every day. The insurance company will owe you for a reasonable amount of storage time, but will cut it off at some point so you need to make arrangements with the tow company to dispose of your vehicle.

If you believe that the total loss offer is too low, there may be some room for negotiations. If your car is common (i.e. an Accord or Camry) the insurance company will usually make an offer that is fair. If the car is a high end luxury car or rare or an antique, it may be much more difficult to come up with a fair evaluation and you will definitely need an attorney to help you through this process.

IF YOUR CAR IS REPAIRABLE

If your car is not a total loss following the auto accident you can choose to repair the vehicle, or if the damage is such that you can live with the appearance of your car, then you have every right to "pocket" the repair money. Either way the insurance company will send an appraiser to look at your vehicle. If you plan to repair the vehicle, it is best that you take the car to the auto body for the appraisal. Since the auto body will be the one's responsible for repairing your car, it is best that they are able to talk with the insurance appraiser about what needs to be done for the car.

Also, Rhode Island General Law § 27-29-4(15) deems it an Unfair Claims Practice for an insurance company to "require that repairs be made to an automobile at a specified auto body repair shop, or to interfere with the insured's or claimant's free choice of repair facility." You have the right to choose your body shop.

Based on the estimate written, the insurance company will estimate the number of days that it should take to repair the vehicle and will authorize a rental car for that number of days. The insurance company is required to put you in a similar car to the one you were driving at the time of the collision. For instance, if you drive an SUV they can not give you a Hyundai Accent for a rental car.

Every part of an auto accident claim is complicated and it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Hire a firm that handles your entire case and will not leave you holding the bag on the property damage portion of your claim. Contact us right away for a free consultation.

December 7, 2011

Criminal Defense Lawyer Joseph Lamy Secures a Fantastic Result in 3rd Degree Sexual Assault Case

Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph Lamy has secured another great result for a criminal defendant. In just this past month we have successfully secured the dismissal of assault charges, two DUI cases, marijuana possession and this week we have obtained a fantastic result in a very serious case. My client was charged with two counts of third degree sexual assault (statutory rape) and there was a very large age gap between my client and the alleged victim which makes a statutory rape case that much more difficult. According to RIGL 11-37-6, a person is guilty of third degree sexual assault if:

he or she is over the age of eighteen (18) years and engaged in sexual penetration with another person over the age of fourteen (14) years and under the age of consent, sixteen (16) years of age.


My office worked this case for over a year, filing nearly a dozen motions, aggressively tackling discovery and working relentlessly with the prosecutor towards a positive outcome. We were ready for trial to begin this Monday but were able to avoid it because the prosecution made a fantastic offer to avoid trial. One count of third degree sexual assault was dismissed and my client plead nolo contendre to an amended charge of misdemeanor simple assault.

If found guilty at trial my client was facing ten years in prison but thanks to our aggressive efforts to identify and prove the weaknesses in the prosecution's case my client now has a non conviction with a mere one year probation. Sexual assault, of any degree, is a very serious crime that requires an aggressive trial ready attorney to ensure the best possible outcome. If you have been charged with sexual assault contact our office right away for a free consultation.

November 28, 2011

Attorney Joseph Lamy Secures Dismissal of Assault Charges

This morning in Kent County Courthouse, criminal defense attorney Joseph Lamy secured the dismissal of assault charges based on the defense that the accused was legally entitled to come to the aid of another person in danger.

The canon of law surrounding "self-defense" to assault or violent crime charges is large. It is abundantly clear that a person is entitled to use reasonable self-defense if he or she believes that they are under imminent physical harm. There is case law that supports an extension of this self-defense rule to a third party intervenor.

In the case at hand, my client witnessed one person strike another smaller person during a dispute. My client was behind the attacker and when the attacker motioned to strike the other person for a second time, my client brought him down to the ground. The police felt that excessive force may have been used and because the "victim" wanted to press charges, my client was arrested for simple assault. We argued from the onset that my client was intervening for the protection of someone in danger of imminent harm. Today we were successful and had the assault charges dismissed.

State v. Beeley, 653 A.2d 722 (RI 1995) has a detailed discussion of self defense under exactly these circumstances.

...three conditions must be met. First, the force must be such as the actor could use in defending himself or herself from the harm that he or she believes to be threatened to the third person. In other words, the actor may use the same amount of force that he or she could use to protect himself or herself. Second, the third person must be justified in using such protective force in the circumstances as the actor believes them to be. Thus, if the third person was resisting an arrest by a known police officer, he or she would have no defense and, if the circumstances were known to the actor, the actor would have no defense either. Finally, the actor must believe that his or her intervention is necessary for the protection of the third party.

Regarding the final factor, the Court will consider what the intervenor reasonably believed at the time of action. If the intervenor reasonably believes that the third party is danger of imminent harm then he is justified in using reasonable force to prevent the harm. My client met all of the criteria for this case and as such the matter was dismissed.