Rhode Island Injury Lawyer Blog

One of the most common questions that I am asked during a personal injury claim, whether stemming from a dog bite, medical malpractice, auto accident, slip and fall, or other type of accident, is “what about my mental and emotional suffering?” If you have been hurt through the negligence of another person, you understand that in addition to the physical pain, you may also suffer emotional distress.

Common symptoms of emotional distress are:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of driving, or riding in cars following an accident
  • Nightmares
  • Stress headaches
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of appetite or joy in life
  • and many others…

Clients suffering from one or more of these symptoms often ask if they will be compensated for their emotional pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, this is not an easy question to answer. For the most part, the Court is definitely behind the times when it comes to properly compensating people for emotional distress. Insurance companies and juries are capable of placing a dollar value on a broken arm, but find it difficult to value nightmares, lost sleep, anxiety, etc.

If you have any chance of collecting for emotional distress, you will have to prove the injury. It is not enough to merely say that you are feeling anxious. To be fairly compensated, you would need to seek treatment for the anxiety and have medical documentation of this emotional injury. Insurance companies look at X-rays to verify broken arms, and they will do the same when it comes to a claim of emotional distress.

In addition, the Courts will also consider the circumstances of the accident to determine the validity of an emotional distress claim. If you are involved in an auto accident, it is much more reasonable to believe that you suffered a mental breakdown if a passenger died in the accident, than if you were involved in a car crash with $500 property damage. Similarly, if you are bit by a pit bull, it is much more traumatic than being bit by a chihuahua.

This does not mean that you have to see a therapist every time you are in an accident. As part of your compensation for pain and suffering, a jury (and even an insurance company) will consider the overall negative impact on your life. Part of your pain and suffering is surely emotional distress.

If you do not have a history of mental illness but feel symptoms of mental distress or injury following an injury, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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I want to thank all past and current clients for making 2010 a wonderful year for my firm. Past clients, very happy with the work that has been done for them continue to refer, new personal injury clients to my office, and 2011 looks like it will be even better. Our criminal defense and entertainment law practices continue to grow at a wonderful pace as well. I am very grateful to everyone and I hope that the New Year is bright and promising for all of you!

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With New Year’s resolutions coming around the corner, a new study suggests that there may be another reason for the overweight to shed excess pounds. A recent study suggests that obese men and women are far more likely to die in serious auto accidents than are men and women of normal weight.

According to the study:

  • A body mass index in the class II obesity range of 35 to less than 40 kg/m2 boosted risk of fatality in a severe crash by 21.2% compared with normal weight;
  • And morbidly obese drivers with a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or greater were 55.9% less likely to survive an accident than their normal weight counterparts.

The primary cause for these findings seems to be that obese people are closer to the steering wheel and windshield which may cause traumatic injury upon impact. In addition, there already poor health may make it even more difficult to survive serious injury. The study compared data of over 150,000 auto accident fatalities over the period of five years to arrive at their conclusions.

Interestingly, mildly overweight persons, may experience protection from injury due to their size.

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Winter weather driving is upon us and thanks to a sudden freeze that occurred around 8pm, last night was one of the worst winter weather drives in recent history. Icy and slippery roads forced the Rhode Island State Police to respond to 31 car accidents! And that was just the State Police. The calls were so sudden and overwhelming that the State Police were unable to properly respond to all the calls.

I was driving at 9pm last night as well and can attest to how slippery the roads were. As Rhode Island drivers we tend to think that a dusting is not enough to cause treacherous driving conditions, but that is untrue. In fact, the most dangerous factor is the freezing conditions which cause black ice that is impossible to detect at night.

If you were involved in an auto accident caused by the snow and ice, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. During our free consultation we will discuss liability to determine fault and determine if you are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.

I have received a few calls recently from people who are afraid of being charged, or have been charged, with obtaining money under false pretenses, following collection of their unemployment benefits. If the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training believes that you were working while collecting unemployment benefits, then they will take action to recover their money and may even refer the case to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training has stated on numerous occasions that they are looking to crackdown on those collecting unemployment benefits while maintaining some form of employment. These “crimes” are usually charged under R.I.G.L. 11-41-4 “obtaining money under false pretenses.”

Critical to this charge and your defense is that this crime requires “intent to cheat or defraud.” It may be difficult for the prosecution to prove any intent to cheat or defraud the Department of Labor and Training.

An investigation will almost always be opened by the Department of Labor and Training before any criminal charges are brought against you. It is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney early, if possible, during the initial investigation by the Department of Labor and Training. With proper attorney representation you may be able to keep this matter between yourself and the department without the added trouble of criminal charges.

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…and so it should. A suffolk county jury has awarded the family of Marie Evans an astonishing $71 million dollars in her wrongful death lawsuit against Lorillard tobacco, the makers of Newport cigarettes.

There have been many large awards against the tobacco companies in the past and by now the story is known to all. Tobacco companies knew for decades that their product was deadly but continued to hide and ignore evidence while promoting their product as safe. Years, and thousands of deaths later, the tobacco industry is the subject of thousands of lawsuits. But this case added another element that is quite interesting.

The estate of Marie Evans argued that Lorillard tobacco promoted and marketed Newport cigarettes to poor minority children. Ms. Evans was only 9 years old when first given a free pack of Newports while living in the Orchard Park housing projects as a child. Ms. Evans was hooked and smoked Newports until her death at the young age of 54. Attacking the cigarette companies for their predatory marketing practices of handing out free samples to poor and impressionable youth is a new tactic.

At this stage the case will surely be appealed, but there is also the chance that the jury could award punitive damages that excees the $71 million already awarded.

After approximately 47 phone calls between Verizon and Cox and 7 service calls, our phone lines are finally fully operational again. I want to sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to my clients or potential clients over the past several days.

Depuy orthopedics announced a formal recall of their ASR hip implant in August of this year and it has since become an increasingly talked about story. The recall affects two products, namely, the ASR hip resurfacing system and the ASR XL acetabular system. Hundreds of lawsuits have already been filed and many more are expected.

The ASR hip implant was marketed and sold in this country for approximately six years and has been implanted in nearly 100,000 patients. The reason for the recall is that approximately 13% of the patients who received the Depuy hip replacement required a second unnecessary surgery. Hip surgery is extremely painful and recovery can take many months of grueling therapy.

If you received a Depuy implant you may have a valid product liability claim. There are three common types of product liability claims:

  • Defective product design
  • Defective manufacturing
  • Inadequate warning and/or instruction

The Depuy hip replacement qualifies as a defective product design. The device is defectively designed and manufactured so that high levels of metal ions are released from the ASR hip implant. These metal ions released in the body can cause serious injury including, tumors, damaged muscle tissue, and osteolysis requiring hip surgery for correction.

It is also well established that the problems with the ASR device were known for quite some time. Many adverse reports were published highlighting the dangers with the Depuy ASR device and the FDA received hundred of complaints. The product was recalled in other countries as long as one year ago due to the serious risk.

Product liability cases are extremely complex and you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with this case. If you had hip surgery in Rhode Island or Massachusetts and received a Depuy ASR hip implant, contact our office right away for a free consultation. There is no fee unless we are successful in obtaining the compensation that you deserve.

I have to offer a sincere apology to any client, potential client, insurance company, or law firm who has tried to contact this office since yesterday afternoon. An attempt to switch our phone lines from Verizon to Cox has gone horribly wrong and my lines are down. I have been promised that the problem will be resolved by tonight.

I am sorry for any inconvenience. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me via email at info@josephlamy.com.

The Providence Journal is reporting that Attorney General Elect, Peter Kilmartin, is planning to adopt the federal immigration program, “Secure Communities“. Under this controversial plan, anyone arrested for a crime in Rhode Island will have the fingerprints taken and compared against a federal immigration database to determine if they are illegal aliens.

According to Kilmartin, the program is only aimed at identifying illegal immigrants accused of breaking the law. In his words, “these people are being accused of crimes, have probable cause to be arrested for crimes.” Others are nervous that such a program could incite racial profiling arrests and discourage victims from reporting crimes (in particular, domestic abuse) for fear that their friend or family member may be deported. In addition, opponents to the program fear that people who are accused of trivial crimes, or have their charges dropped completely, can still find themselves embroiled in an immigration battle.

The Rhode Island ACLU is sure to challenge this program and there are bound to be opponents and proponents. It will certainly make the criminal justice system in Rhode Island a much more serious environment for those lacking proper immigration status.