If you or your property has been damaged, and the damage was caused by another person's neglect or disregard, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your pain, suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and more.
Rhode Island Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations refer to the time limits you have in which to file a personal injury claim. In Rhode Island, personal injury cases must be filed within three years from the date of the accident or knowledge of an injury.
Filing a Claim
Rhode Island residents may file cases in small claims court for damages that do not exceed $2,500. Most attorneys work on contingency fee arrangements in personal injury cases. This means you do not owe fees unless you win your case. You may be responsible for some court fees.
Once you file your lawsuit, legal documents in the case are served on the defendants to give them notice of your case. Facts are gathered in the discovery phase of pretrial. Pretrial motions, or requests for orders from the court, may be made in the early stages of the lawsuit. Expert witnesses may be hired at this time. Many witnesses must be disclosed and deposed before trial.
Your trial will begin with jury selection, if applicable, opening statements, and the defense's answers. The defendant may make counterclaims to which you, the plaintiff, must answer. The jury or judge then deliberates the facts and evidence of the case and comes to a verdict, which must be read aloud in court.
Settling Your Case
It is often a good idea to avoid court time for a trial. Court time is expensive and can take a lot of time and energy. It is common for personal injury cases to settle sometime prior to trial in the legal process. You can come to settlement terms on your own or with the help of a third party called a mediator. A small percentage of personal injury cases end up in a full trial.
If you win at trial, a judge or jury may award you money to compensate for your injuries. These funds are called compensatory damages. They attempt to compensate you for medical expenses, past and future lost wages, physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, and disability. Should you be found partially at fault, Rhode Island's pure comparative negligence law will affect the amount of your settlement—damages will be reduced by the percentage attributable to your fault.
If you win your case, it is the defendant's legal right to request relief from harsh or unfair judgments by means of an appeal. The defendant begins his or her appeal by filing appellate briefs. The appellate court reviews the lower court's decision and may affirm or reverse that decision or send the case back for a new trial. A Notice of Appeal must be filed with the clerk within 30 days of the lower court's decision before the right to appeal is lost.
Getting Help from a Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury claims are complex and state laws change regularly. You may wish to talk to a personal injury attorney in Rhode Island with regard to your claim and potential damages.