Rhode Island Injury Lawyer Blog

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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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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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!

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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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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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.

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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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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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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Rhode Island House minority leader, Robert Watson, was arrested over the weekend in Connecticut for DUI and marijuana possession. (I will leave it to the reader to supply their own thoughts on the hypocrisy of Mr. Watson whose previous statements suggest that RI is too lax on drug crimes and immigration.) Unfortunately for him, Connecticut is not so lax in the punishment of DUI. The penalties in that State are far more severe than the penalties for DUI in Rhode Island.

In Connecticut, a first offense DUI results in 2 days mandatory jail time with probation up to 6 months and 100 hours of community service as well as a license suspension of one year.

In comparison, first offense DUI in RI very rarely results in any jail time or probation and a license suspension UP TO six months. The amount of community service is usually far less also.

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The civil litigation system has been subject to a PR attack since the 80’s launched in large part by large corporations and insurance companies determined to convince the public that tort cases are destroying the economy and benefit only greedy attorneys. While this is obviously untrue, the PR campaign has been effective.

Interestingly, it seemed to gain real traction with the case of Stella Liebeck, who was notoriously injured after hot coffee spilled on her lap at a McDonald’s drive-thru. The Hot Coffee case became a part of our culture, joked about in the media and talked about by nearly everyone. The majority were quick to quip – “Coffee is supposed to be hot!” “It was her own fault, how can she sue”, etc. Outrage mounted after the jury awarded Ms. Liebeck millions. Did anyone, however, understand the true facts of this case.

No one mentions that Ms. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns over 6% percent of her body and required skin grafting. Nor do they mention that Ms. Liebeck was initially only seeking her medical bills to be covered but McDonald’s refused to seriously consider her case even though they had a corporate policy of keeping their coffee much warmer than other coffee suppliers.

The Hot Coffee documentary is about to re-ignite debate on this infamous case. It stands to be interesting and while it will hopefully shed light on the facts of this case, it is certain to re-open debate on the civil litigation system.