RI Personal Injury Attorney, David Slepkow, provides this extensive guide to negligence and accident laws in Rhode Island. Below you will find some of the most significant liability, negligence and tort laws in RI.
Rear End liability for motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents
“Under Rhode Island law, “[w]hen a case includes a claim or defense resulting from a rear-end collision between vehicles, a prima facie case of negligence against the driver of the car in the rear is established * * *.” Maglioli v. J.P. Noonan Transportation, Inc., 869 A.2d 71, 75 (R.I. 2005).
Wrongful Death Law in RI
- A wrongful death cause of action in RI must be filed by the executor or administrator of the estate.
- A settlement or judgment as a result of the fatal automobile crash is not an asset of the deceased person’s estate.
- Any settlement funds or judgment recovered as a result of a car crash shall be distributed by the executor of the dead person’s estate to the beneficiaries set forth in the wrongful death statute.
- Customarily, the administrator of the person who died in the collision or fall must retain a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer with experience in fatal accident litigation.
- The statutory beneficiaries of a wrongful death recovery is set forth in Rhode Island general law 10-7-2. “(1/2) shall go to the husband or widow, and one-half (1/2) shall go to the children of the deceased, and if there are no children, the whole shall go to the husband or widow, and, if there is no husband or widow, to the next of kin, in the proportion provided by law in relation to the distribution of personal property left by persons dying intestate;”
Statute of limitations -wrongful death claims
3 year Statute of Limitations for wrongful death in Rhode Island. Missing a statute of limitations will be a bar to recovering compensation as a result of a Rhode Island deadly crash. However, in unusual and very limited circumstances, this statute of limitations may be extended for good cause.
Extending Wrongful Death SOL
“With respect to any death caused by any wrongful act, neglect or default which is not known at the time of death, the action shall be commenced within three (3) years of the time that the wrongful act, neglect or default is discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered.” RI law 10-7-2
The Statute of limitations for most negligence, slip and fall & bicycle collision causes of action is 3 years in Rhode Island. The Statute of limitation in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (otherwise known as the ocean state) is 3 years from the date of the accident for auto, semi-truck, motorcycle, bicycle and bike accidents.
Admissibility of Subsequent remedial Measures in RI
Pursuant to RI law, subsequent remedial measures may be used to prove that an alleged tortfeasor was negligent. This law puts Rhode Island in the minority state position because under the federal rules of evidence, Rule 407, and pursuant to nearly all state rules, subsequent remedial measures are not allowed to prove that a defendant was at fault for an accident.
Federal LAW- subsequent remedial measures:
““When measures are taken that would have made an earlier in-jury or harm less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove: negligence; culpable conduct; a defect in a product or its design; or a need for a warning or instruction. But the court may admit this evidence for another purpose, such as impeachment or—if disputed—proving ownership, control, or the feasibility of precautionary measures. (As amended Apr. 11, 1997, eff. Dec. 1, 1997; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec.1, 2011.) US Court
Obligations to act in good faith and not expose Insured to excess liability Judgment
If an injured victim in a car, truck, motorcycle or premises liability or other accident claim makes a demand through their RI Personal injury Attorneys under or at the insurance policy coverage limits and the demand is rejected by the Insurance company then the insurance company is responsible to pay the entire judgment including interest! This is obviously a law that Providence car accident lawyers Love!
“If the insurer declines to settle the case within the policy limits, it does so at its peril in the event that a trial results in a judgment that exceeds the policy limits, including interest. If such a judgment is sustained on appeal or is unappealed, the insurer is liable for the amount that exceeds the policy limits, unless it can show that the insured was unwilling to accept the offer of settlement.” ASERMELY v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, 728 A.2d 461 (1999). Findlaw
Personal injury claims in RI focus on the state’s tort law involving negligence, recklessness, carelessness or abuse causing harm or damage to a victim. However, a Rhode Island Injury claim is only valid when injuries are the direct result of another’s action. A Providence Superior Court Personal Injury lawsuit or claim attempts to hold a defendant legally responsible due to their negligence, recklessness, carelessness, intention or breach of their statutory or common law duty.
Reasonable standard of care
Negligence is often defined in Rhode Island as conduct or behavior falling below a reasonable standard of care that any reasonably prudent individual would exercise under similar circumstances. While many types of personal injury claims in Providence, Woonsocket or RI communities involve catastrophic injuries from severe spinal cord damage to traumatic head trauma or death, a valid claim must simply show proof of responsibility over some type of damage to the victim.
This post is part 2 of 4 of RI Injury Attorney, David Slepkow’s comprehensive guide to RI negligence law in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Rhode Island
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice and surgical malpractice is three years in RI. In some very limited circumstances, the statute of limitations can be extended (tolled) for three years from the date a person knew or should have known of the negligence.
Physical Symptoms required to sustain Intentional or Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
“Rhode Island law clearly requires evidence of relevant, physical symptomatology, albeit under a relaxed standard to support an emotional injury claim. See id; see also Grieco ex rel. Doe v. Napolitano, 813 A.2d 994 (R.I. 2003) (physical manifestations must be sufficient to support an emotional injury claim).” PERROTTI v GONICBERG Providence Superior Court decision
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Distracted Driving Law
The Traffic Tribunal sustained the Trial Judges decision that an alleged texting whiled driving motorist was reading a text message (SMS message) which is clearly prohibited by the texting while driving statute. The tribunal reasoned that “The legislature’s intent when drafting and enacting section 31-22-30 (b) was to prohibit inattentive driving caused by composing, reading, or sending text messages. SeePartington, 681 A.2d at 260.” Id. http://ricaraccidentlawyers.com/reading-text-message-enough-sustain-texting-driving-charge/ STATE OF RHODE ISLAND v JASON KILSEY C.A. No. T13-0056 : 13001519371
“ (b) No person shall use a wireless handset to compose, read or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle on any public street or public highway within the state of Rhode Island.” 31-22-30
“ (8) “Wireless Handset” means a portable electronic or computing device, including cellular telephones and digital personal assistants (PDAs), capable of transmitting data in the form of a text message.” Id.
“”Text Message”, also referred to as short messaging service (SMS) means the process by which users send, read, or receive messages on a wireless handset, including but not limited to, text messages, instant messages, electronic messages or e-mails, in order to communicate with any person or device.” 31-22-30
Duty to remove ice and snow in RI:
The RI Supreme Court sitting in Providence adopted the “Connecticut rule” when the Highest tribunal stated “…landlord or business invitor owes a duty to a tenant or business invitee to use reasonable care to see that the common areas are kept reasonably safe from the dangers created by an accumulation of snow and ice which is attributed to purely natural causes.” BERARDIS v. LOUANGXAY et al 969 A.2d 1288 (2009) However, the Rhode Island Supreme Court stated “The landlord or invitor, however, must be afforded a reasonable time after the storm has ceased to remove the accumulation. ”Id.
Duties of Businesses to Customers and Invitees
The Supreme Court of Rhode Island located in providence set forth the applicable standard of care when the Highest Tribunal in RI Stated: that business owners had a duty “to exercise reasonable care for the safety of persons reasonably expected to be on the premises * * * includ[ing] an obligation to protect against the risks of a dangerous condition existing on the premises, provided the landowner knows of, or by the exercise of reasonable care would have discovered, the dangerous condition.” Kurczy v. St. Joseph Veterans Association, Inc., 820 A.2d 929, 935 (R.I.2003) (quoting Tancrelle v. Friendly Ice Cream Corp., 756 A.2d 744, 752 (R.I. 2000)); accord Mead v. Papa Razzi Restaurant, 840 A.2d 1103, 1107 (R.I.2004)…Although a business invitor is not a guarantor of the safety of those who might be expected on the property, a duty remains to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition for prospective business invitees.” Terry v. Central Auto Radiators, Inc., 732 A.2d 713, 716(R.I.1999).
12 percent interest in RI
Under Rhode island law, the Court automatically adds 12 percent prejudgment interest on all negligence verdicts. This law essentially punishes insurance companies from delaying and denting legitimate injury claims.
§ 9-21-10 Interest in civil actions. – (a) In any civil action in which a verdict is rendered or a decision made for pecuniary damages, there shall be added by the clerk of the court to the amount of damages interest at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum thereon from the date the cause of action accrued, which shall be included in the judgment entered therein. Post-judgment interest shall be calculated at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum and accrue on both the principal amount of the judgment and the prejudgment interest entered therein. This section shall not apply until entry of judgment or to any contractual obligation where interest is already provided. 9-21-10
In Febuary 2014, Several lawmakers in Rhode island proposed a new law to lower interest on prejudgment awards to six (6) percent. This Law was not passed! Proposed law
Obligations of Property owners to trespassers on land in RI
The obligation that a homeowner or property owner owes to a trespasser in Rhode Island is far different to the obligations owed to invitees. These laws usually comes into play in RI slip and fall causes of action on real estate or premises liability lawsuits.
“It is a well-established principle of law that property owners owe no duty of care to trespassers but to refrain from wanton or willful conduct; and even then, only upon discovering a trespasser in a position of danger.” Hill v. National Grid, 11 A.3d 110, 113 (R.I. 2011). http://www.rhodeislandpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com/2013/12/ri-top-court-teen-injured-trespassing-at-haunted-building-knew-risk-no-liability/
Trespassing Children and Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Rhode Island has adopted section 339 of the restatement of torts concerning trespassing children premises liability law. This is commonly known as “the attractive nuisance doctrine” The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine may apply if a child is trespassing and injured on a property. Under the Restatement (Second) Torts § 339 at 197 (1965): “A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm to children trespassing thereon caused by an artificial condition upon the land if….” http://www.rhodeislandpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com/2013/12/ri-top-court-teen-injured-trespassing-at-haunted-building-knew-risk-no-liability/
Drunk Driving Death Resulting
Currently, the laws in Rhode Island state that someone who is charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and a death results may face a minimum sentence of five years in jail and a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. There are also monetary fines related to such a convictions and these fines range from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $10,000. § 31-27-2.2
Driving under the influence of liquor or drugs, resulting in death: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE31/31-27/31-27-2.2.HTM
§. 31-27-1 Driving so as to endanger, resulting in death http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE31/31-27/31-27-1.HTM
Right to Obtain a New Personal Injury Lawyer in RI
If you are unhappy with your RI automobile accident legal representation, you have the right to obtain a new lawyer at any time. Your Prior RI slip and fall or accident lawyer must turn over the entire legal file to the new attorney. Your prior lawyer may have a statutory lien against your personal injury, premises liability or motorcycle accident case. If you obtain compensation, your prior lawyer will have a right to be paid for his or her legal services. However, you will not be required to pay the old lawyer upon obtaining a new attorney! Your new lawyer and old Rhode island Injury Attorney must share the fees received. http://www.slepkowlaw.com/new-lawyer.htm#.U4nyg2dOUa9
Leaving the scene of a collision, death resulting:
“Any person charged with the commission of this offense shall upon conviction be imprisoned for not more than ten (10) years and have his or her…”
Negligence Lawsuits rarely file in District Court:
Rhode Island Negligence and Personal Injury cases are almost never filed in Rhode Island District Court. RI District Court has exclusive Jurisdiction when the amount in controversy is $5000 or less. The RI District Court has concurrent Jurisdiction with Superior Court for matters between $5,000 and $10,000. There are several important reasons why Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyers rarely file accident cases in district Court..
Jurisdiction of Police to make Arrest outside town or city
In State v. Ceraso, the Rhode Island Supreme Court determined that, “In the absence of a statutory or judicially recognized exception, the authority of a local police department is limited to its own jurisdiction.” STATE v. CERASO, 812 A.2d 829 (2002), citing Page v. Staples, 13 R.I. 306 (1881). Exceptions include hot pursuit and emergency if officer requests permission.
Definition of Practice Of Law:
“11-27-2 ”Practice of law” defined. – “Practice law” as used in this chapter means the doing of any act for another person usually done by attorneys at law in the course of their profession, and, without limiting the generality of the definitions in this section, includes the following:…” http://www.rhodeislandcriminallawlawyer.com/ri-unauthorized-practice-of-law/
Right To privacy
§ 9-1-28.1 Right to privacy – Action for deprivation of right. – (a) Right to privacy created. It is the policy of this state that every person in this state shall have a right to privacy which shall be defined to include any of the following rights individually:…..”
Causes of Personal Injury Causes of action
Based on the incident or accident, a RI personal injury claim usually involves one or more of the following causes, including:
• Negligence or abuse caused by another individual or entity
• Faulty equipment
• A poorly designed product that causes injuries or death
• An unforeseen occurrence, accident, circumstance or happening
Common Personal Injury Cases in Bristol, Warwick, Cranston
Many personal injury cases are filed every year in the U.S. and in Rhode Island , with most claims based on some type of negligence that cause an intentional, unintentional or accidental injury. The most common types of personal injury claims in the United States and in the Ocean State include:
• Motor vehicle accident involving a car, truck, motorcycle, boat, semi-truck, commercial vehicle or other
• Medical malpractice
• Nursing home abuse or neglect
• Childbirth injury
• Bicycle accident
• Pedestrian accident
• Workplace injury
• Workers’ compensation
• Construction injury
• Dangerous prescription medications
• Product liability
• Slip and fall accidents
• Military personnel /armed forces injury
• Airplane accident
• Animal bites
• Environmental hazards
• Public place accident
• Premises liability
• Wrongful death
Pursuing and filing a personal injury claim in RI is a way to obtain financial compensation for the negligence or intentional action of others. However, many times the accident victim does not realize the injuries they suffered were caused by another’s negligence. As a result, they can quickly become overburdened with escalating medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages and other debt as they take time to heal from their injury.
Reluctance to paying upfront fees is a leading factor in choosing to avoid hiring a Woonsocket slip and fall attorney. However, East Providence personal injury attorneys typically work on contingency, meaning all fees are collected from an out-of-court settlement or an award at trial, at a percentage rate based on the outcome of the case. This means no upfront fees are necessary, and no payment to the Bristol Injury attorney is due if no financial compensation is obtained.
Insurance companies take advantage of unrepresented claimants
Often times, insurance companies will go to great length to refuse paying victims suffering injuries. When the insurance carrier is willing to provide a settlement, the victim is often outmatched with claims adjusters who negotiates settlements every day. A reputable RI personal Injury attorney can offer valuable negotiation skills to their client. Their experience will ensure that the settlement fairly compensates the victim for their injuries, damages, pain and suffering.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.