Your Providence Personal Injury Case: The Basics
Providence is known as the Creative Capital. Everyone likes creativity, until someone gets hurt. Creative home repairs could mean that a guest falls down the stairs. A creative holiday recipe could lead to food poisoning. Creative driving ... possible trip to the E.R.
We know that the City of Providence means no harm, but if you've been injured by "creativity," here are some points about the law to keep in mind. Keep in mind that this is an overview of a personal injury case. After you learn the basics, browse FindLaw for more information on your specific legal topic.
Statute of Limitations
After you've been injured, you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. That time limit is called a statute of limitations, and it varies from state to state. In Rhode Island, you typically have three years from the time that you were injured to file your claim. Do not wait until the last minute to contact an attorney, however, because there could be other reasons and advantages -- unrelated to the statute of limitations -- for filing soon after injury.
Workers Compensation is one are of law in which the normal time limits are less applicable. Generally, if you've been injured on the job, it's best to report the injury (or illness) to your employer as soon as possible. A delay could reduce the amount of benefits that you receive.
Where to File
Providence is home to two state judicial centers, the Licht Judicial Complex and the Garrahy Judicial Complex. When filing your case in state court, visit the Licht Judicial Complex at 250 Benefit, and submit your materials to the Clerk of Court.
In federal court, plaintiffs must file electronically or with the U.S. District Court Clerk. The Clerk's office is in the Federal Building and Courthouse at One Exchange Terrace. Visit the U.S. District Court, District of Rhode Island online for more information on filing procedure.
If you are filing your claim in Providence, the filing fee is $160.00. If you cannot afford the payment, the submit a Verified Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (application for a fee waiver). In federal court, the fee is $400.00, but, again, you may submit a motion for a fee waiver.
Finding a Lawyer
New England has several outstanding law schools that produce excellent lawyers. Here are some tips for finding a lawyer that may suit your case's needs.
Contingency Agreements for Plaintiffs
If you have been injured, and you now plan to take someone to court, you are a "plaintiff." In personal injury law, many of the attorneys specialize in plaintiffs-side legal practice. Plaintiffs' lawyers will sometimes represent clients under a contingency agreement. This means a lawyer will work without pay initially, but the client must pay a portion of the settlement or winnings. In Rhode Island, the details for a contingent fee plan must be written out and provided to the client.
Insurance for Defendants
If someone is blaming you or your business for their injuries, you are a "defendant." Check with your insurance to see whether your policy covers your legal defense. Homeowner's insurance will sometimes cover activities away from the home, so be sure to check.
Common Personal Injury Situations
The Rhode Island Judiciary has a Workers' Compensation Court to handle benefits disputes. All cases are handled in the Garrahy Judicial Court House here in Providence. If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, notify your employer because the employer must submit the claim on your behalf. The Department of Labor and Training recommends that you contact its Education Unit if you have Workers' Compensation questions. The state's judiciary recommends that you hire an attorney if you plan on going to court with a dispute.
Car accidents are a significant source of personal injury cases. Because they are so common, some lawyers have built an expertise on the laws and facts related to typical car accidents. You can get a headstart on your case by reviewing FindLaw's Providence-area materials on car accidents.
Medical Malpractice lawsuits can be especially complex. You may want to hire a lawyer familiar with Rhode Island's laws because Rhode Island offers certain benefits to plaintiffs in this state. For example, some states have limits on damages in medical malpractice cases. As of September of 2013, Rhode Island has no such limits.
A personal injury case in Providence that results in great harm is a tough thing to cope with. FindLaw has resources, information, and listings of local attorneys that can help get you through a hard time.