Rhode Island Injury Lawyer Blog

Of all the questions I hear in my office from new clients who are unsure about the personal injury claim process, the question I hear the most is: how long is my claim going to take to settle. I can not speak for every personal injury law firm, but since this is such a frequently asked question, I will answer as to how my firm handles claims.

The single most important determining factor as to the length of your claim is whether the case settles prior to litigation or not. Settlement prior to litigation is NOT always the best option. Many personal injury law firms like to brag about their settlement percentage. I assure you not to be fooled by this statistic or this advertising tactic. ANY LAWYER OR LAW FIRM CAN SETTLE YOUR CASE IF THEY ARE WILLING TO ACCEPT WHATEVER LOW OFFER THE INSURANCE COMPANY MAKES. In fact, many of the law firms that highlight their rate of pre-litigation settlement are probably accepting far less than the case is worth.

The Settlement Process

Settlement is not always a bad thing. In fact, for the majority of cases it is the best decision for all of the involved parties. Settlement is quicker, less costly, and if well negotiated by your personal injury attorney, should result in a settlement amount for full value of your case.

But the point of this post is to discuss how long the process takes. This is how the process works at my office if we can settle prior to litigation. Following the injury there is likely to be a course of treatment with medical providers. If you sustain whiplash following a rear-end auto accident you may be required to see a chiropractor. If you break your arm in a slip and fall you will likely see an orthopedist for several months and undergo a course of physical therapy. More serious injuries may require surgery and lengthy follow-up… and so on. During your medical treatment, my office will contact you every 3-4 weeks to see how you are feeling and to make sure that we are aware of all the medical providers that you are seeing. We will also see if you have been able to work, or return to work following an absence.

Regardless of what doctors you see or how long it takes, we will continue in this fashion until you are done with treatment. If the doctors have done everything they can for you and you are still in pain, our office will likely request a letter from your doctor to discuss your future prognosis. Once completed with all of your medical treatment, we will compile all of your most up to date medical records. At this point, I will write a detailed demand letter for the insurance company in which we make our case for damages and demand a specific sum of money for compensation.

My office promises to send out your demand letter within one week of receiving all of your final medical records. This guarantees that there is no unnecessary delay in attempting to resolve your case. No other firm that I know of promises to work so quickly on your behalf. Once the demand letter is received by the insurance company, it generally takes 3-5 weeks for them to make an initial offer (depending on the insurance company.) We will then begin aggressive negotiations to try and resolve the case for full value. When a fair dollar figure has been achieved, the client can consider settlement. If settled, the case will be closed and the check received in 7-10 days.

The Litigation Process

Many cases, however, do not settle in the manner described above. There can be a lot of reasons for this. For one, the insurance company might make too low an offer to be fair. Second, the insurance company might believe that you are partially at fault for the accident, and therefore, not entitled to full value. Also, some cases are just too serious or complex to easily settle. For instance, if I have a client who is very seriously injured I will often suggest filing a lawsuit right at the beginning because there is little chance of getting full value for very serious injuries in a settlement. For all these reasons, your case might wind up in litigation.

Litigation, especially in Rhode Island, can be a long process and I would not guarantee my clients that they will see any money for at least a year or two. Once the case is in litigation, we can still attempt to resolve the matter through arbitration or mediation which will be quicker than going all the way to a jury trial. Even if you file litigation, the case will often settle (eventually) and hopefully for much more money than offered before we filed suit. Just because you file a lawsuit does not necessarily mean that you will one day go to a jury trial. In fact, only a small percentage of filed lawsuits actually go to trial.

So, to make a long story short – my office promises to make every effort to attempt a settlement of your case quickly. Frequently within just a few months of the accident. If we are unable to settle or if it is inappropriate to settle prior to litigation, we will aggressively pursue your lawsuit to try and achieve an appropriate resolution as quickly as possible.

If you have any questions about the personal injury claims process, particularly regarding the length of time prior to settlement, contact our office for a free consultation. If you are currently represented and feel that your case is taking way too long, you can also call for a free consultation. If I believe, that I can assist you in resolving your case, we can discuss a possible transfer.

A controversial new law proposed in the Rhode Island senate seeks to protect the public from dog bites and other injuries caused by pit bulls. The law is controversial and unique in that it focuses solely on one breed, pit bulls. Breed specific laws are not common but those that do exist in other states tend to focus on pit bulls much like this law does.

Thumbnail image for Pit-Bull.jpgMy office has gained a reputation for handling dog bite cases so I am following this law with great interest. We have helped dozens of victims of dog bites in the past year alone, settling most cases for tens of thousands of dollars and more. Dog bite injuries are very serious for a number of reasons:

  • Dog bite injuries almost always result in a scar ranging in size from small teeth marks to large long scars;
  • Dog bites most often occur to minor children;
  • Animal attacks result in a severe mental trauma that is not common to other types of accidents and injuries.

I applaud this bill for a few reasons and am critical for others. I applaud the law because it seeks greater protections for the public from the dangers of dog bites. According to this law, owners of pit bulls would require registration and insurance as well as posting signs and other notices on their personal property. Pit bulls would have to be kept inside at all times and muzzled in public, in addition to other restrictions. I especially applaud the requirement of insurance for ownership of dangerous dog breeds. It is terribly irresponsible to harbor a dangerous animal and lack the required insurance to protect someone injured. Of course, I firmly believe, most dangerous animals are that way because they are owned and raised by immature and irresponsible owners…. but that is the story for another day.

I am critical of the law because I see no reason to single out a particular breed. While statistically pit bulls might cause a higher number of dog bites than other breeds, the laws should focus on protecting the public from any such attack. This, I believe, can be done by educating the public and owners of dogs, particularly potentially dangerous dogs like pit bulls. I would also open up the liability requirement to owners of any dog. From my experience in the cases that I have handled, small unsuspecting dogs are just as likely to bite a person than a pit bull.

Of course, the law in Rhode Island, gives owners of dogs a free pass for one bite UNLESS the owner knows or should know that the breed is dangerous, such as a pit bull or akita. In other words, a dog owner may not be liable if he or she had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous because a) it has never bitten anyone before, or b) it is not a “dangerous breed.” Another way we could enhance the protection of the public from dog bites without singling out pit bulls, is to remove this “free pass” for the first bite from Rhode Island law.

If you or a family member has been the victim of a dog bite, contact my office for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, damages for scarring, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. There is never any fee unless I recover damages for you. Call the firm specializing in dog bite attacks in Rhode Island.

After what seems like an eternity of planning, organizing and actual moving, I can officially tell you that my new office located at 696 Reservoir Avenue in Cranston is open. I am no longer located at the downtown Dorrance Street address. Thanks to all of my current and past clients who have spread word of mouth about our personal injury law firm doing things differently and better, I outgrew the space in Providence.

After listening to my clients thoughts and opinions, I have found that the majority prefer to avoid the city and its traffic and lack of parking. For that reason, I have decided to go a few minutes outside of the city into Cranston. We have ample free parking at the new office and we are just minutes from downtown Providence. The firm’s phone number – 401-228-7470 – is unchanged as is our email and website address.

I invite any past, current, or potential clients to stop by and see us at our new office! Please take note of the new address:

Law Office of Joseph Lamy
696 Reservoir Avenue
Cranston, RI 02910
Thank you to everyone for all of the ongoing help and support!

The “good hands” company which is anything but “good” has found itself in another public relations nightmare regarding a Superstorm Sandy commercial. The company which endlessly bombards the airwaves in an attempt to convince the world that Allstate cares about its customers has recently released a commercial about their efforts to “help” the victims of Sandy. As it turns out, however, Allstate did not get the permission of their clients to use their likeness or home in the commercial. The couple did not want to participate in the commercial because they are yet another victim of Allstate’s nonsense and have been ripped off by the company.

Dominic and Sheila Traina evacuated their home in advance of Superstorm Sandy. While they were away, a neighbor notified them that the roof had been torn off their house. Amazingly, Allstate determined that the damage to the house was due to FLOODING! and therefore not covered under their policy. The Traina’s do not have flood insurance. Allstate has not yet explained how flooding reached levels tall enough to tear the roof off a full size house. Despite well over $200,000 in damages, Allstate has offered their customers $10,000. And yet their commercials tell us that “cut rate” insurance might not protect you from dangers! Embarrassing!

To add salt to the wounds, the Traina family was absolutely shocked to find their home as the backdrop for an Allstate commercial. The bad publicity has forced Allstate to pull the commercial, but the damage to the company has already been done. Of course, this is absolutely no surprise for Allstate, in fact, it is their business model. Whether dealing with a property damage claim from a storm or a personal injury claim from a car accident, Allstate will do everything possible to avoid paying a fair and reasonable settlement. If they can make any argument in their favor, no matter how implausible, they will hang on to that argument until the very end forcing countless delays and forcing plaintiff’s to spend tens of thousands of dollars to obtain the money to which they are entitled.

There is a reason why Allstate is consistently ranked as the WORST insurance company in America. Do not believe the cute commercials and “good hands” hype because their actions consistently speak otherwise. I wish the best to the Traina family who have been through a terrible ordeal.

If you have been involved in an accident of any kind you may undergo diagnostic testing at some point to identify the nature and extent of your injury. The most common diagnostic tests in personal injury cases are X-rays, MRI’s and CT scans. X-rays are most commonly used to identify and/or rule out fractures and broken bones. MRI’s are often taken for a close look of a muscle or tendon injury. For example, an MRI will be used to diagnose rotator cuff tears of the shoulder, or ligament tears in knees and ankles. An MRI will also be used in cases of serious injury to the neck or back to diagnosis disc injury or herniation. Finally, a CT scan is most often used to diagnosis head injuries such as concussions or bleeding on the brain. A CT scan may also be used to identify and/or rule out internal injury such as injury to the lungs, kidneys, etc.

These tests might be taken at any time during the treatment for your injury. These tests may be taken at the emergency room following a serious auto accident or may be taken after your treatment has already begun. If you are not responding to treatment or your condition worsens after treatment has already begun, then a doctor might order an MRI or other test to ensure that the injuries are not more serious than previously believed.

It is important to be aware that all of these tests, in particular, X-rays and MRI’s, are subject to incorrect readings and mistake. X-rays taken immediately after an accident may often be incorrect because swelling around the fracture makes it very difficult to accurately see the bone. Last year, I represented a gentleman who was rushed to a Massachusetts emergency room from the site of a very serious car crash. The ER took multiple X-rays but failed to identify any fractures. A week later, my client’s primary care physician ordered another set of X-rays which revealed a fractured sternum and multiple broken ribs. Similarly, I currently represent a woman who fell down a flight of stairs breaking her ankle. This fracture, however, was not identified at the emergency room. It was only identified by an orthopedist almost 3 weeks later.

MRI’s are also imperfect. On occasion, the doctor interpreting the films will actually say in the notes that the test is “inconclusive” or that there is a “possible” fracture or herniation. Of course, inconclusive and possible are unhelpful terms during a personal injury lawsuit. When this occurs, it may be best to hire an expert witness to re-interpret the films.

Like X-rays, MRI’s taken weeks or months apart may show different results. The injury was likely always there but wasn’t seen by one doctor. There may be a number of factors for an incorrect diagnostic reading:

  • Physician error or inexperience;
  • Poor film or low resolution;
  • Modality used was one not likely to identify an abnormality;
  • Small injuries are either misinterpreted or simply missed.

If you are still in pain, seek treatment and if that treatment is not working, seek a second opinion. I do not give this as medical advice, but simply as safe advice that will help ensure that your injuries are accurately diagnosed and treated. A full and accurate understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries is also critical to ensuring that you receive everything that you are entitled to in your personal injury claim.

Continue Reading

From the bottom of my heart I truly want to thank all of my friends, family, assistants and clients who have made 2012 a REMARKABLE year! My firm continues to grow at a tremendous pace thanks to satisfied personal injury, criminal defense and entertainment clients who tell their friends and family about my services. In 2012 we met and SURPASSED a goal I set out for myself nearly four years ago when I left my firm in Boston to start my own law practice in Providence.

And the best is yet to come… My six month plan to move to a new office better equipped to meet the needs of my clients and the demands of my growing practice is close to completion and I will be announcing my new address and location in the coming weeks.

Again, thank you to everyone who has played any part in my firm’s success. I hope that in 2013, you can find all of the joy and satisfaction in your lives and careers that you have helped me achieve in my own. And for any potential clients who have come across my website or blog to learn more about me or your personal injury case, please call my office for a free consultation to see what all of the buzz is about!

Best,
Joe

I recently ran into a former personal injury client from a few years ago. When I asked how she was, she told me that she was actually in quite a bit of pain. It turns out that she was hurt in a car accident a few months ago. I was disappointed that she did not call me to represent her for this new accident so I asked if she was not satisfied with my representation last time. She said that she was very satisfied and wanted to call me again following this car accident but the driver of the vehicle she was in said that if they did not go to the same attorney there “was going to be problems.” This is not the first time that I have heard this misconception so I suppose it is worth writing a post here.

Following a serious car accident it is not uncommon for several passengers to be in injured. Each passenger has rights to make a personal injury claim for damages. A common misconception, however, is that everyone in the vehicle needs to hire the same attorney to handle the case. This is absolutely incorrect! While there may be benefits to agreeing on a single attorney, there may be other reasons why separate attorneys would have a better result. If you are one of several passengers injured in a car crash, you have every right to hire the auto accident attorney of your choice, regardless of the choice made by the other passengers. Your decision will have no negative consequences and will not cause any delays.

In fact, there is one situation when it strongly benefits you to hire a different attorney than the other parties. That is, if you are a passenger in a vehicle and the driver of the car you are riding in is partially or totally at fault for the accident. One attorney can not adequately represent both parties because he may have a conflict of interest. In order to recover the full damages for your case the attorney might have to admit that the driver (also his client) shares some negligence. Since the attorney also represents the driver, he can not and should not admit to his own client’s negligence, and this is why there is a conflict of interest. It is better for you to hire an attorney of your own choice who has only your best interests in mind.

The important thing to remember is that if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident with several other passengers, you have the right to choose your attorney. Hire an attorney with a good record of results and whom you trust. Hire an attorney who gives you personal attention and handles the case him or herself rather than one who leaves all of the work to his or her paralegal. If you are looking for that kind of attentive and agressive attorney, contact my office for a free consultation. There is never any fee unless we recover money for you.

The National Transportation Safety Board released the findings from a study which revealed, the not surprising at all fact that, wrong way drivers are extremely dangerous and cause hundreds of auto accident fatalities each year across the country. The study also finds that the majority of wrong way drivers are intoxicated and operating their vehicle at two to three times the legal limit for alcohol.

Roseland_Rd_t670.jpg

I have written previous posts highlighting the danger of head-on collisions. Head-on accidents are among the most dangerous and life threatening auto accidents that can occur because the speed and force of both vehicles impact directly into one another. Wrong-way drivers, whether on a side street, a main street, or in extreme cases, the highway, create a very high likelihood of a head-on collision.

When an operator is coming down the road in the wrong direction it can be very difficult to avoid collision for a number of reasons. For one, as drivers we are unaccustomed to be on the lookout for wrong-way drivers. While we are trained to always keep our eye on the road, a driver coming the wrong way down the highway or down a one way is not something we are likely to look for. Second, even if we are aware of the wrong way driver it may be impossible to avoid collision. Perhaps there is no room to get out of the way (as in a tight one-way road) or the driver is coming to fast for you to take evasive action (as on the highway).

A car accident caused by a wrong-way driver is always a scary thing. I recently was retained by a woman who was struck by a man driving down the wrong way on Route 195 West in Fall River, Massachusetts. She turned her car abruptly at the last second and was able to avoid a direct head-on collision, but despite her bravery and quick thinking she still suffered a broken leg and ankle in the collision.

If you are injured in an accident caused by a wrong way driver you may be entitled to past and future medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. My office specializes in car accident cases and complex injuries. Call my office for a free consultation and let my experience work for you.

Continue Reading

This winter has been extremely mild for us here in New England which seems to rule out the risk of a snowmobile accident or injury, but if you are injured this winter during a snowmobile accident it is imperative that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney right away to protect your rights and obtain compensation for you. There is no need to contact a national law firm to help you with a snowmobile accident because our firm is local and ready to fight for you.

Snowmobile accidents can occur in a number of ways. Collision between two snowmobiles, operator error, and product malfunction can all lead to an accident. Injuries sustained in a snowmobile accident can be serious and permanent including but not limited to head injuries, fractures, paralysis and even death. Do not delay in contacting a personal injury attorney. Your attorney will need to act quickly to establish the facts of loss and identify potential coverages for you to be compensated. Many insurance companies are now covering so called “small lines” vehicles such as jet skis, motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles. Because of this increase in coverage there is a strong likelihood that the vehicle which caused your injuries has an insurance policy protecting it. In some instances the homeowners policy may also cover your damages. As with other personal injury cases you are entitled to past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Because it is unlikely for the police or other government agency to investigate a snowmobile accident, there may be no incident report. Therefore, if AND ONLY IF, you are able, it is imperative for you to try and identify witnesses and take pictures of the scene. This will help establish the facts when trying to recreate the accident at a later date.

Snowmobiles and Product Liability

If your snowmobile accident was caused not by operator error but by a defect in the machine itself, it is worth looking at your accident as a product liability case. If your snowmobile has a defective design that made it unsafe for its intended use, or was manufactured in such a way as to be dangerous, then you may have a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. Recently both Ski-Doo and Bombardier have recalled snowmobiles for various unacceptable risks that caused serious injury to users.

Continue Reading

I don’t use this forum to discuss criminal cases too often, but after an exceptional week in Court, I want to share some good results. This week I secured the dismissal of a DUI case and the dismissal of a domestic assault charge. My approach to my client’s case whether personal injury or criminal is to aggressively pursue the matter and prepare every case as if we are going to trial. I never assume an injury case is going to settle and I never assume that a criminal case is going to result in a plea… this approach is the most effective way I know to ensure great results for my clients. This week was a good one in the criminal courts.

My first client was arrested for DUI following an auto accident with significant property damage and injuries. Although it was the first offense, the prosecution was looking for severe penalties because of the accident. After aggressively fighting this case, the DUI was dismissed for lack of evidence and my client was left to face only civil penalties.

The second charge dismissed this week was for domestic assault. In this case, the client had a prior record which was resolved by a criminal filing. His year for the criminal filing had not yet passed and the new domestic assault charge also meant that he would be violated on the filing charge. After a full hearing in front of the Judge, the violation was dismissed. This was a major victory for a client who was facing jail time should he be found in violation.

If you or a friend or family member has been arrested in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, contact my office right away for a free consultation. Make sure you hire an attorney with a plan and commitment to go the distance. I don’t take shortcuts or take the easy way out.