July 11, 2011

Distracted Driver Statistics = Very Scary!

A somewhat humorous Farmers Insurance commercial with spokesperson J.K. Simmons (who will always be Dr. Emil Skoda in my mind) demonstrates the dangers and hazards of distracted driving. The commercial warns against not only drunk driving, but driving while texting, talking on a cell, talking with passengers, putting on make-up, reading directions or a magazine, or listening to loud music. The list of stupid things we have all done while driving a vehicle would be longer than this blog post.

The fact, however, is that distracted driving, in particular distraction from a cell phone, plays a massive part in the number and severity of auto accidents on the road today. According to a study reported by the Hartford Courant:

  • Smart-phone users are four times more likely to be involved in a serious auto accident;
  • 5474 people were killed on the roads in accidents linked to distracted driving;
  • 20 percent of all injury related accidents involved distracted driving;
  • Using a cell phone while driving can have a similar or worse impact than driving while intoxicated.

If you are involved in an auto accident and you believe that the other driver was distracted by a cell phone or other reason, it is important to report this to the police, your insurance company, and your personal injury attorney. If liability (fault) is disputed or in question, proving that the other side was distracted while driving may swing the liability decision your way. In the meantime, recognize and appreciate the danger that cell phones can present in the car because they can be as dangerous as drunk driving.

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July 7, 2011

What is a Criminal Filing in Rhode Island and How Does it Work?

In speaking with a potential client this morning, I suggested that her case might be eligible for a criminal filing. Most people, including my new client, are unfamiliar with the criminal filing and need an explanation. Here it is....

First time offenders who commit minor crimes might be eligible for a criminal filing in Rhode Island. A criminal filing is one of the lightest punishments available to a defendant. A filing is held for one year and if the defendant can stay out of trouble during that time, the case is eligible to be expunged at the end of the year. Therefore, if your criminal defense attorney negotiates a filing for your penalty, you are only required to stay out of trouble for one year and the case will be thrown out and expunged as if it never happened. It is a great alternative to probation or more serious penalties.

Furthermore, a filing entered with a plea of nolo contendre (further discussed in my blog post about no contest pleas) is not a conviction in the State of Rhode Island. If you are arrested again during the period of a filing, that disposition will be revoked and you will be back in court. Furthermore, you will now be facing penalties for the new charges.

If you have been arrested and would like to know more about criminal filings in Rhode Island or would like to know if you may be eligible for this sentence, contact our office right away for a free consultation.

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July 2, 2011

Firework Accidents and Injuries in Rhode Island

With the 4th of July approaching, a number of doctors have expressed their concern over the potential for injury this Holiday. Dangers exist not only from the illegally obtained fireworks from neighboring States, or the complex and large-scale displays put on across Rhode Island, but additional dangers exist now that the State of Rhode Island has legalized certain fireworks. So called "sparkler" fireworks, or non-explosive fireworks have been legalized in Rhode Island and are readily available. These fireworks, while they do not contain explosive elements and are not projectile, still raise the risk of burn injuries, eye injuries, and other serious injuries. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission cautioned that children should never be allowed to play with sparklers because these fireworks can reach tempatures of nearly 2000!!! degrees fahrenheit. Children are at the highest risk of firework related injury. Last Year nearly four thousand children under the age of 15 were injured by fireworks. The injuries ranged from minor to fatal.

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Fireworks obtained from New Hampshire which will be shot at thousands of houses across Rhode Island this weekend, continue to possess the greatest danger. These devices contain explosive elements which can fail and explode too lose to ground level near onlookers, instead of in the sky as intended. Also, an inexperienced user of fireworks may "set off" the firework improperly causing it to project towards people instead of in to the sky, or explode early.

Injuries resulting from fireworks can be extremely serious and do not need to be outlined in this article. If you or someone you know was injured while viewing a firework display, properly licensed or not, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney right away.

June 27, 2011

What is a "Friendly Lawsuit?"

Tomorrow morning I will be at Providence Superior Court for a hearing on a so-called "friendly lawsuit". It occurred to me as I prepare for the hearing that many people may have heard of a friendly lawsuit, or been told that they will be part of a friendly suit, and may not know what it is all about.

Even though it sounds like an oxymoron, a friendly lawsuit occurs when the parties have agreed to terms but want Court approval of the Agreement. In the area of personal injury, in which I practice, and where friendly suits are not uncommon, they are filed because the plaintiff is a minor and the settlement is over $10,000. Under Rhode Island law, a settlement over ten thousand dollars for a minor child must be approved by a Judge after the Guardian Ad Litem has drafted a report and confirmed that the settlement is in the best interest of the child.

The purpose of this extra step is so that an impartial third party will look at the interests of the child to ensure that the settlement is fair for the plaintiff who is unable to make his or her own decision. Since a minor can not enter into a contract legally, a friendly suit, will also make the signed Release binding on the minor. Otherwise, a minor plaintiff can bring a personal injury lawsuit after his or her 18th birthday.

If your child was seriously injured in any kind of personal injury action and negotiations have begun for settlement, you may begin to discuss the need to file a friendly lawsuit. If you are working without the help of a personal injury lawyer, I would advise contacting one to help you through this tricky additional step.

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June 23, 2011

Attorney Joseph Lamy Secures Dismissal of Cocaine Possession Charge

This morning in Rhode Island District Court, criminal defense attorney Joseph Lamy successfully obtained a dismissal of felony cocaine possession charges. In Rhode Island, cocaine is classified as a schedule I drug and possession charges come with very serious penalties. According to the statute, a non drug-addicted person caught with possession of a schedule I drug is facing up to a life sentence and fines of up to $500,000!

If you have been arrested on drug possession charges, contact our office right away for a free initial consultation. The earlier I enter the case, the better your chances of a positive outcome.

June 20, 2011

Drowning Risk is High for Kids in Portable Pools

Portable pools, ranging from small plastic wading pools to relatively large constructions that hold 3-4 feet of water are increasing in popularity because they are easy to assemble and are a cheap alternative to formal pool systems. A new study, however, suggests that these portable pools may be very dangerous to young children. According to the study, in the last several years there has been 244 serious incidents involving portable pools, with 209 of those cases resulting in death by drowning. 94% of the victims were children under the age of 5, and most injuries occurred at the child's home.

The reason for this high risk of danger is unclear but there may be many factors:

  • Portable or temporary pools do not have the same protective and/or safety equipment that formal pools have;
  • parents are less likely to be in the pool with the child when and if a problem occurs;
  • some parents may wrongfully assume that the pool is too small to pose a risk;

Drowning can occur in a flash and so suddenly that even monitored children are at risk. It is imperative to constantly monitor children in a pool and if the child is particularly small, to always be within arm reach so that you can save the child immediately.

All pools, above ground, in-ground, or portable are a serious danger to children and parents and supervising adults must act with extreme caution to prevent catastrophe.

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June 14, 2011

Rhode Island May Implement Further Restrictions on Cell Phone Use While Driving

A new bill is being considered that would make it illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to use a cell phone AT ALL while operating a motor vehicle. Recently, Rhode Island joined several other States including Massachusetts in banning texting while driving, but this bill would prohibit any use of a cell phone for those under 21. Currently, any driver under the age of 18 is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.

The sponsor of the bill, Frank Lombardo III, suggested that he would like to see all cell phone use banned at any age, but recognizes that this is a practical first step. Ample evidence suggests that cell phone use can be as dangerous as drunk driving and is a leading cause of car accidents.

Young drivers, particularly those under 21, have a much higher propensity for accidents without additional distractions. According to the CDC, "per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash." Motor vehicle accidents are also the leading cause of death for this age group. These statistics support the Senator's contention that further restrictions on cell phone use may save lives.

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June 7, 2011

Your Rhode Island and Massachusetts Boating Accident Lawyer

In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the boating and water sport season is upon us and it is important for you to understand your rights if you were injured on board a boat or other watercraft. Accidents or injuries on board cruise ships, private boats, ferries, or even water skis, are injuries in which you may be able to collect personal injury damages including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The Center for Disease Control reports that in 2009 there were 4,730 boating accidents resulting in 3,358 injuries and 736 deaths. Among the fatalities, it was discovered that 84% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident.

The most common types of boating accidents are:

The injuries following a boating accident can be quite serious including fractures, burns, head injuries, or at worst, drowning. Similar to auto accidents, most boating accidents are caused by operator inattention or recklessness, operator inexperience, and operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, the Center for Disease Control reports that 1 in 5 boating fatalities are related to alcohol use.

Most watercraft are insured, but boat accident litigation can become quite complex so it is important to speak with an attorney who has experience in representing those injured while a passenger on a boat.

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June 1, 2011

Attorney Joseph Lamy is Your Local Truck Accident Attorney

Truck accidents are becoming increasingly common as more and more rigs are on the roads delivering goods. With the growing number of tractor trailer and big rig accidents, more attorneys are offering to assist clients in this area. TV commercials and the Yellow Pages are full of so-called national truck accident firms looking to help the people of Rhode Island or Massachusetts. There is no need to hire a national firm that will most likely refer the case to another attorney that you do not know. If you have been injured in a tractor trailer accident, contact our office. We have the experience and strategy to handle truck accident cases.

Because tractor trailers and other commercial trucks are so much heavier than personal vehicles, the severity of the accident and injuries are usually very high. Injuries can often include broken bones, scars, head injuries, burns, and even death. The combination of large insurance policies and severe injuries makes truck accident cases very complex. Commercial truck accident cases require an attentive and aggressive attorney who is prepared to litigate the case to ensure full value for your injuries.

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May 26, 2011

Cranston Sushi Restaurant Closed for Numerous Health Code Violations!

It is being reported by the Providence Journal, that Uncle Sushi in Cranston has been closed for numerous health code violations. This one came as a surprise to me, especially since I have eaten take-out from Uncle Sushi before. And after hearing the description of the violations, I am honestly, nauseated!

The Health Department inspected the restaurant after receiving notice that at least 8 people who ate at Uncle Sushi on May 19 became ill with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other abdominal discomfort. This food poisoning was likely caused by norovirus, according to the Health Department. The Health Department found numerous health and safety violations including:

  • Mouse droppings in the flour and on noodles;
  • Children's Diapers and toys were found in the kitchen;
  • Vinegar stored in a container previously used for laundry detergent!;
  • Improperly stored and cooked rice;
  • Numerous other sanitary violations.

The violations are particularly shocking because sushi (a raw food) is dangerous to begin with and sushi restaurants must adhere to the strictest safety guidelines. This failure to adhere to even basic common food standards has created an obvious health hazard leading to the illness of at least 8 people.

This outbreak of food poisoning in Cranston follows the well known salmonella outbreak from DeFusco's bakery in Cranston, which is now in bankruptcy proceedings. It is worth noting that the Health Department is severely understaffed which allows such obvious violations to occur. Rhode Island has only 7 (SEVEN!!!) health inspectors for the over 8000 eating establishments in the State. Shocking!
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UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who has called with questions about this case. Our firm is currently representing several people sickened by Uncle Sushi's health code violations. If you or a family member suffered food poisoning after eating at Uncle Sushi in recent weeks, contact our office right away.

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May 24, 2011

Providence is Apparently Very Dangerous for Pedestrians

Following the recent study of Rhode Island's worst intersections, comes another study identifying the most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians. The group, Transportation for America, determined Providence to be the fourth most dangerous metro area in the Northeast. According to their findings, 117 people were killed while walking in Rhode Island from 2000 to 2009. The study also accounted for population and the proportion of the population that walks to work.

Although, scoring poorly in the Northeast, Providence was relatively low compared to other areas across the Country. Rhode Island finished 31st of the 50 States with Florida apparently the deadliest State in the Country for pedestrians.

The overwhelming majority of pedestrian accidents and injuries arise from car accidents. Clearly, even the largest and strongest of us is no match for a car or truck travelling between 30-50 mph. Pedestrian accidents are always serious and require an experienced attorney ready to fight and go the distance, if necessary.

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May 17, 2011

Supreme Court Rules with Police Again Causing Another Blow to Constitutional Rights

The United States Supreme Court once again sided with police as the increasingly conservative Supreme Court continues to weaken civil liberties. The case of Hollis King, a man arrested for drug possession in Kentucky, was brought before the US Supreme Court this week. King was convicted on drug possession charges but the Kentucky Appeals Court threw out the conviction based on improper evidence. The United States Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom, re-instated the conviction and determined there was nothing improper about the evidence or how it was discovered.

The Kentucky police were in an apartment building searching for a different man. While in the apartment building, they thought that they smelled pot coming from Mr. King's apartment and knocked on the door. Even though they did not have a warrant, the police burst into Mr. King's apartment because they thought they heard noises suggesting that the defendant was trying to get rid of evidence! What on Earth such noises could be is beyond me. Is it flushing a toilet? Is it the opening or closing of a garbage lid? Apparently you should be sure that no one uses the bathroom when a police officer might be in your apartment building! Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the only Justice to dissent) correctly points out that this ruling gives police free reign to enter any residence without a warrant, if they allege that the defendants were making suspicious noises.

Justice Alito, in his opinion stated that "Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame." In other words, if Mr. King opened the door and told the police that they could not come in without a warrant, then the police would have no grounds to enter without said warrant. But if Mr. King fails to open his door and makes "suspicious noises" then it is OK for the police to kick down his door. Sound logic. Our Constitution is obviously in strong hands.

May 11, 2011

Let Attorney Joseph Lamy Handle Your Auto Insurance Claim

Are you currently trying to work directly with the insurance company for your personal injury claim? Are they pressuring you to settle your auto accident injury claim? Are they telling you that you do not need an attorney to represent you because they will treat you fairly?

I know there are a lot of you out there and I know that you are nervous about how things are going to work out with the insurance company, but maybe you are afraid that you can not afford an attorney or that the attorney will cost too much. I used to work for the insurance companies and I know how they think - I can assure you that you need a personal injury attorney to handle your auto accident claim. If not me, hire someone else.

The reason is, quite simply, that insurance companies do not want to pay you. It is their money and they would prefer to keep it. There are two methods insurance companies often take regarding unrepresented injury victims: 1) They ignore you and make you wait as long as possible to pay you as little as possible; or 2) Pressure you in to signing a Release for very little money shortly after the accident.

The fact (and I know this since I've been on the insurance side) of the matter is that you will receive much less money without an attorney than if you had one. Furthermore, almost all personal injury attorneys, including myself, work on a contingent fee basis. This means that we only take a percentage of what you earn and we are not paid until you are paid. You do not need to worry about affording an attorney because you will not pay anything until the case settles. And, I am convinced, that in almost all cases you will still make more money after paying the attorney than you would earn working directly with the insurance company.

There are a couple of reasons why you can never be fully compensated for your personal injury claim without an attorney. First, you may not be aware of what you are entitled to. Second, you may not understand your options for paying medical bills. Third, and most important, the only real threat to the insurance company to force them to pay what you deserve, is a lawsuit. Without an attorney, the insurance company knows that you are not going to file suit, so why should they make a reasonable offer to you? An unrepresented injury victim has no bargaining power with the insurance companies.

If you are currently trying to work with the insurance company for your injury claim, call my office for a free consultation. It is never too late to hire a personal injury attorney for your accident claim. I have many clients who tried to settle directly with the insurance company only to be offered an embarrassingly low amount of money. After the shocking offer, they called my office for help. Let my office handle your auto accident claim for you and avoid the frustration and work of dealing with the insurance companies.

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May 7, 2011

Mississippi Jury Awards Largest Asbestos Verdict Ever!

A Mississippi man was awarded a staggering $322 million verdict for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and future medical expenses arising from asbestosis which he now suffers from after working many years in a Mississippi oil field.

Asbestosis is one of the two serious conditions that can develop following exposure to asbestos, the other being mesothelioma cancer. Absestosis is an extremely serious disease of the lungs which occurs after breathing in asbestos fibers which become lodged in the lung tissue. The fibers cause inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue which results in difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. The Plaintiff in this case, Thomas Brown, Jr., is on 24 hour oxygen because of his asbestosis.

The defendants in this case were Chevron Phillips Chemical and Union Carbide Corporation, both of whom developed and marketed asbestos products for decades. Despite knowledge that their product was extremely harmful they continued to market and sell the product into the 1980's. The jury found that the companies had negligently designed their products and failed to supply adequate warnings to users. Asbestos cases are one of the clearest examples of a company putting profits before people and this Mississippi jury has evened the score by punishing the company for their wrongdoing. I applaud the men and women of that jury for their brave decision.

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May 2, 2011

Rhode Island Identifies the 50 Most Dangerous Intersections in the State

The Rhode Island State Department of Transportation has completed a list of the 50 worst (as in most dangerous) intersections in the State of Rhode Island. The most dangerous intersection in the State is on Route 146 in North Smithfield where it intersects Sayles Hill Road.

In compiling the list, the State looked at the years 2006-2009 and considered:


  • The number and frequency of accidents;

  • The incidence of injury and fatal injury;

  • The total estimated cost of the accident, including property damage and personal injury.

Providence and Warwick fared the worst in the report, each City having 13 of the 50 worst intersections. In fact, three Warwick intersections are among the top 5 problem intersections in the State, including the intersection of Post Road and Route 37 which accounted for the most accidents over this period of time, 313! Warwick also accounted for the most auto accidents with injuries - the intersection of West Shore Road and Warwick Avenue which accounted for 55 injuries. The intersection with the most auto fatalities was in Pawtucket at the intersection of Route 95 and Lonsdale Avenue.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, very little money is available to address all of the security concerns at these various intersections. For instance, the City of Warwick which accounted for 13 of the 50 worst intersections, only has plans to address 3 of those intersections. 10 problem intersections will continue to remain unchanged.

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