It may just be the way news is reported but it seems there has been an ever increasing and alarming number of pedestrians accidents this past year.  Warwick, it seems has been struck particularly hard with 13 pedestrian accidents before October.  Our office just signed up to represent a young man struck by a car on Post Road in Warwick having sustained very serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury.  Now, Warwick police are stepping up.  It has been reported that after four recent pedestrian accidents (one fatal) that the Warwick police will begin cracking down on drivers not yielding to the right of way of pedestrians.   They are even employing a decoy who is on the streets in bright clothing in crosswalks to educate the public and ensure that drivers are appropriately making way.  Drivers who have not obeyed the law in presence of the decoy are being cited.

You must remember that pedestrians have the right of way, particularly in intersections and where crosswalks are present.  At heavily congested intersections drivers must always be aware of the possibility of pedestrians crossing.  Obviously, when these accidents do occur they are often very serious. Man vs. car is not a fair battle and pedestrian accidents often result in broken bones, head injuries and even fatalities.

Given the seriousness of such injuries, you need to hire a trial attorney experienced at obtaining big settlements and the most money available for you.  Also note that in many cases your personal uninsured motorist coverage may offer additional money if the driver responsible for your injuries is either uninsured or underinsured. Never settle for less than you deserve.  If you or a loved one has been struck by a vehicle and hurt, contact my office right away.  Our super lawyer rated team will ensure maximum recovery.

 

12

I am absolutely honored to say that this year I have been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Rising Star and among the best personal injury attorneys in Rhode Island. SuperLawyers is really the gold standard in identifying the most competent and able of attorneys in any specific area of practice.  The process requires nominations from your peer group which is then vetted by independent research of a candidates record, ethical standing and achievements in the area of law.  In the end only 2% of attorneys are selected to be classified as “SuperLawyers”.

I started my career with a very prestigious law firm in Boston where it was simply understood that every attorney was to be regarded as a SuperLawyer.  I left to start my own practice in Rhode Island with every intention of carrying on that high standard into my own practice.  Recognition this year is in many ways “Mission Accomplished” and I am eternally grateful.

I want to thank all of my past and current clients who have entrusted me with their hardships and serious injuries to help build this successful practice.  I also want to thank all of my past and current support staff who help make my job possible.

Serious injuries, such as broken bones, head trauma, or disc herniations requiring back surgery, are not uncommon experiences following an auto accident or slip and fall.  Serious injuries like these can require surgery, sometimes multiple surgeries, and extensive rounds of physical therapy and rehabilitation.  Even after all of the treatment, cortisone injections and rehab, an injury may not be fully resolved.  Pain and symptoms will often remain and can remain for months, years, or a lifetime.  Such permanent injuries require an aggressive injury attorney and a plan to fight for every dollar.

A common question I hear in these types of cases is: What if I never get better?  Do I have to wait for years of treatment to finish before we can try and resolve the claim?  In many cases, such as when hardware has been installed to repair a fracture, or when surgery was required to fuse vertebrae in the spine, the injury is clearly permanent and the pain life long.  In these instances, we will request a letter of opinion from the treating physician or expert.  Their letter will identify the length and nature of an injury, the potential need for future surgery or treatment and the cost of such treatment.  These letters of opinion can be used as part of a demand package to the insurance company or as part of the evidence at trial.  With this information in hand, you can attempt to settle and resolve your claim even though you are not technically at an “end point” with your injury.

Retaining an expert comes with a cost and requires additional effort and work from your attorney but it adds considerable value to your case.  Discuss potential experts with your attorney and make sure there is a plan for long term success.  Shortcuts have no place in serious injury cases.  If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in an auto accident or slip and fall, contact our office right away for a free consultation.

My firm has to deal with Progressive Insurance hundreds of times per year because they are the largest auto insurer in RI.  Unfortunately, except for maybe Allstate, they are one of the most difficult insurance companies to work with.  Some body shops won’t take their cases and attorneys groan when they know they are involved.  One could argue that from the insurance perspective, that they are doing their job if body shops and attorneys don’t like them…. But it is not so simple.  An insurance company’s obligation is to protect their insured from lawsuit and damages.  Often times, Progressive’s decisions mean that their insureds are unnecessarily sued and brought into Court.

In just the past few months, I have experienced Progressive: arguing liability when my client was rear-ended by their insured (they alleged my client stopped short without cause… as if that matters. To their defense they did drop that ridiculous argument); I have been told that the emergency room bill for my client, a pedestrian who was HIT BY A CAR was excessive; and, they have denied a claim on behalf of my clients simply because their insured said no one was in the parked car.  On that last one, it is worth noting that my clients who WERE seated in the parked car are the ones who obtained their insured’s license plate after she ADMITTED to striking the car and fleeing the scene.  So, in other words, the testimony of a woman who admits to breaking the law by hitting a car and fleeing the scene, carries enough credibility to deny damages for a poor woman who was sitting in a parked car waiting for her kid to come out of school.  But as long as they don’t have to pay… they’re happy.

BUT WHY I AM I WRITING THIS? HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU? You should know that if you pick up a police report following an accident and find out the at-fault driver has Progressive, that you are in for a battle.  You not only need an attorney, but you need one ready to fight and go the distance.  My office settles less than half of our cases with Progressive without having to file arbitration or a lawsuit.  If you’re attorney isn’t willing to fight, you are going to be disappointed.  If you try to work with them without an attorney, you are likely to be disappointed.

I have spent several years writing about every aspect of personal injury law in Rhode Island and in so doing I have connected with many clients… and  I hope helped many more people with answers to their questions.  But every business is a results oriented business and for now, I will from time to time discuss some of our great results.  I haven’t done this in the past, even though our office has helped recover over ten million dollars in our first five years, but I think it is helpful to see results from different cases, some of which might bear a resemblance to your own.

Just this past week I settled a case for the policy limits that was long in litigation.  This young man who was involved in a serious roll over accident came to me after two years of trying to negotiate on his own with the insurance company.  He sustained a serious shoulder injury that was likely to be permanent, but did not require surgery.  The insurance company seriously undervalued the case and offered only $18k to my client.  He realized this was a ridiculous offer and decided to hire me to represent him.  We immediately filed a lawsuit.  It was a long and arduous battle.  The insurance company rejected our arbitration award, refused to mediate and closed the door on us at every opportunity. Undeterred, we prepared for trial and our expert witness was ready to demolish their case.  Finally, on the eve of trial, the insurance company caved and offered over 4x times their previous offer.  My client was very happy with the result and he was rewarded for his patience and determination.

There is no question that it can be difficult to wait so long for justice and satisfaction but it is worth it!!  My client could have accepted 18k a few years ago but decided to fight for what was right and ended up with over 80k as a reward.  Our office does not leave money on the table.  If you have been seriously injured, think carefully before settling.  Whether you have an attorney or not, if the offer is far too low for your serious injury, think about a lawsuit and willingness to fight.  Call our office today for a free consultation.

I was fortunate enough to spend part of the holiday season in New York City and while there, I like most others, used Uber to get all over town.  Its simplicity and ease to get around town quickly and affordably are unmatched, so it is no surprise that the company and service has become a phenomenon.  The probability of being involved in an auto accident in an Uber vehicle is no lower than in your own vehicle, and I have often heard questions about how auto accidents work when Uber is involved.  The short answer is that nothing really changes and you will likely be entitled to any and all damages entitled to had the accident occurred in your own vehicle.  As with any type of auto accident, those damages include past and future medical bills, past and future lost wage earnings, and pain and suffering.

If you are a passenger in an Uber vehicle then you have a suite of protections.  First, liability can not be in question against you since you weren’t driving.  Whether it was the Uber driver or the other car that caused the accident, we know for certain that you, as passenger, did not cause the accident because you weren’t driving.  So, whether the claim is brought against the Uber driver or the driver of the other involved vehicle, you will be able to make a claim for full damages.  Second, Uber requires all drivers to maintain insurance in their State.  This should help offer you protection should the Uber driver be at fault for the accident.  Uber also maintains additional supplemental insurance that may cover some of the loss or costs if the Uber Driver’s insurance is insufficient. Third, it the Uber driver was not at fault then you can proceed against the at-fault drivers insurance for all damages.  In Rhode Island, a negligence free passenger can go after EITHER at fault party if liability is split or not entirely clear.  Finally, you can look to your own insurance policy which may cover some or all of the damages depending on the circumstances (if not covered by any other applicable coverage described above).

While I have had people express concern to me after being involved in an accident with a ride share program such as Uber and Lyft, as you can see from this analysis, you are very well protected and covered.  I would recommend contacting a personal injury attorney right away.  If you try to process your claim with the assistance of Uber or the driver of the Uber vehicle, they may not be looking out for your best interest.  Only an experienced auto accident attorney can ensure that your rights are protected and the claim handled with your best interest in mind.

Medical malpractice cases frequently stem from the delivery room.  Improper delivery of a baby can result in long term permanent injury to the newborn and catastrophic damages to the family.  For example, cerebral palsy is quite often a result of medical negligence.  This week, however, another story came out from Alabama.  The Court has upheld a $16 million dollar jury award to a woman for her traumatic birth experience.  What makes this case a bit unique is that the damages were exclusively to the mother, the baby was ultimately fine, and includes considerable compensation for the psychological stresses she endured during a horrible delivery.

In this case, the woman was expecting her fourth child.  A pro at child birth, she and her husband decided they wanted to do things a little differently and attempt a more “natural” child birth experience at a clinic in Alabama specializing in such deliveries.  Natural birth clinics lure mothers to be with promises of cushy suites, a personalized birth plan, autonomy, etc.  A nice picture compared to the usual epidural, feet in stirrups and army of nurses at the bedside.  Or so she thought.  Instead, this poor woman endured a hellish delivery which included being held to the bed against her will and nurses forcing the baby to stay inside her womb for over six minutes while they waited for the doctor to finally arrive and deliver the child.  She suffered trauma to her sexual organs and along with these physically injuries has been emotionally traumatized.  She experiences frequent panic attacks and has lost her sex life with her husband.  The entire family has suffered.  There was evidence of medical malpractice not just in the awful delivery and attempt to hold the baby inside her for several minutes, but the jury also recognized the “bait and switch” in that the woman was promised a peaceful and positive birth experience and was instead physically assaulted and abused.

This case was framed around an emerging concept of “obstetric violence”.  This term includes anything from a condescending tone from doctors to being forced into unwanted medical procedures such as cesarean sections or episiotomy.  It will be very interesting to follow cases like this in the near future as doctors will have to weigh the considerations of the mother and her body much more carefully before making medical decision.  Certainly, I believe the courts will always side with a doctor if the mother or child are in danger during pregnancy and they decide to have a C-section, but will the Courts side with doctors when there is not such a medical emergency and they make a quick decision to operate? Will more cases come up charging doctors and nurses with verbal or physical trauma if they are not attentive enough to the mothers needs or otherwise physically aggressive.

In a somewhat surprising study released this week from Johns Hopkins University, it has been revealed that medical error has resulted in the death of approximately 250,000 people per year placing it third as the leading cause of death behind heart disease (611k) and cancer (585k).

The study does go on to state that not all of these instances are linked to individual error, nor is every such instance actionable in court.  Instead, quite a large number of these cases are systemic in nature such as, poor coordination of care, insurance gaps and lack of necessary protocols.  In other words, failure in the system from affording care, to receiving different care from different doctors may be as much to blame as individual medical error.  Improving and streamlining procedures as well as opening dialogue about where and when mistakes are happening are seen as two critical areas in need of improvement.  Of course, systemic problems are nearly impossible to litigate as it is a fundamental health care problem in this country.

A good percentage of those 250k deaths are directly linked to medical negligence.  Errors in treatment either by a single doctor or a team of doctors, however, may be actionable in a medical malpractice claim.  A doctors negligence can have profound, permanent, life changing effects on the victim and in those cases it is worth speaking to an experienced medical malpractice attorney.  While this article speaks to deaths caused by medical malpractice, the victim does not need to die in order for the estate to have a claim.  Any life changing medical error may be the basis for a lawsuit.

Many people may be unaware of a very helpful statute in RI which requires insurance companies to submit to arbitration before a lawsuit is filed.  According to RIGL 27-10.3-1, any insurance policy written in the State of Rhode Island must include a provision for arbitration if the case is valued under $50,000.

This statute is incredibly helpful for difficult personal injury cases that don’t have a particularly high value.  In Rhode Island, it can literally take years before a lawsuit is reached for trial and if you go the whole distance the costs can skyrocket into the thousands or tens of thousands.  For that reason, it doesn’t always make sense to file a lawsuit, particularly on cases that are worth 15-25k.  For these types of cases, this arbitration provision can be a lifesaver.  If the insurance company is disputing liability or just making a low-ball offer, then filing statutory arbitration may be the best bet.

Our office uses this tool a great deal.  When insurance companies like Allstate, Progressive and Liberty Mutual (these 3 in particular) want to make ridiculous low-ball offers by cutting the lost wage claim, cutting the medical bills and reducing the pain and suffering, my office often moves right to arbitration.

There is no single question that I receive more often than… “What is my case worth?”  Often, that is very tricky to answer, especially early on.  The fact is that only a verdict from a jury after trial is a final and true determination of value.  But so few cases actually go all the way to trial that your attorney must rely on his experience and skill to obtain as much for you as possible.  There are a number of factors that go into determining the value of your case.  Foremost, the severity of the injury and the extent of the treatment required.  Additionally, the value of your medical bills and lost wages (if any).  Also, are you willing to file a lawsuit and wait for more money or would you prefer to settle quickly for less.

So you see.. “What is my case worth” is a rather loaded question.

It may come as a surprise to many readers but another important factor in determining the value of your case is… which insurance company is involved?  Especially early on during initial settlement talks, the insurance company on the other side makes a big difference.  One company can value a case at 25k while another offers 12k.  How can that be you ask? If my case is worth 25k it is worth 25k.  Well, it is not so easy as that.  Several insurance companies will “low ball” your initial offer.  They want to see if your attorney is willing to file arbitration or file a lawsuit or rather just encourage you to settle for a quick payout.  In most cases, the attorney accepts these low settlement offers and insurance companies continue to get away with paying less than they should.  In Rhode Island, you have to be particularly careful of Progressive Insurance, Allstate Insurance and Liberty Mutual.  These three companies (at least in my experience) are notorious for making low, sometimes insulting, offers of settlement.  They justify this by cutting down your medical bills (claiming that treatment received was too expensive or unnecessary) and they will cut down your lost wages (suggesting you could have gone back to work earlier than you did) and they will offer you relatively little in pain and suffering.  In the end, you get an offer way below your own valuation of your injuries.