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Rhode Island Negligence Laws

Most civil lawsuits involving an injury are based on the legal theory of negligence. To be negligent is to act in a way that a similarly situated "reasonable person" would not, resulting in another person's injury. An "injury" may include loss or damage of property, emotional distress, and other losses resulting from the defendant's negligence in addition to physical injuries. For example, a kennel owner who allows a dog to die because he forgot to give it adequate water may be held liable for the owner's loss. A reasonable kennel owner -- owing a duty to provide the needs of its animal guests -- would at least make sure the dog has ample food and water.

To owe someone a duty, based on a particular standard of care, depends on the situation, the person's role, proximity, and other factors. In the previous example, the kennel owner's sole business is to take care of animals -- therefore, he owes the dog owner a duty to provide a standard of care that will keep their dog alive and well.

Negligence Law in Rhode Island: The Basics

General information on how Rhode Island handles negligence claims is listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Negligence section for more articles.

Code Section 9-20-4
Comparative Negligence The fact that the claimant was not in the exercise of due care shall not bar recovery, but damages diminished in proportion to the amount of attributable negligence.
Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery -
Contribution Among Tortfeasors Yes; §§10-6-1 to 11
Uniform Act §§10-6-1 to 11

Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of new legislation but sometimes through the decisions of high courts and other means. You should contact a Rhode Island personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Elements of a Negligence Case

A plaintiff must be able to prove the following five elements in order to collect damages for injuries resulting from the defendant's negligence:

  1. Defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act
  2. Defendant breached this duty
  3. This breach of duty caused injury to the plaintiff
  4. Defendant's actions (or inactions) were the proximate cause of the injury (the defendant should have known that this action could have caused injuries)
  5. Plaintiff suffered actual damages (i.e., lost wages, hospital bills, suffering, etc.)

Research the Law

Rhode Island Negligence Law: Related Resources

Your Free Case Review

If you've been injured due to the negligence of another person or a company, legal action may be needed to receive compensation. After all, why should you foot the bill for your injuries if someone else was at fault? Negligence law can get complicated, but there are personal injury attorneys in Rhode Island who can help. In fact, they can even provide you with a review of your case at no charge. Contact one today to get started.

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