During the course of lifetime you or your loved ones may be the unfortunate victim of an injury or illness caused by the wrongful behavior of an individual or business organization. The information provided on this site is to assist the victims of personal injury about the legal rights and remedies available in the State of Rhode Island. A personal injury resulting from the wrongful behavior of another can have profound emotional and financial consequences to not only the injured person but also their family. I am dedicated to helping victims and their families recover every cent of their loss resulting from the wrongful behavior of an individual or organization. I will be your advocate when you need it most. If you have been injured as a result of the wrongful actions of another call now for a free consultation. Thank you for visiting, Attorney Pepe.
JUST THE FAQS
When is an individual or organization liable for personal injury? There are numerous types of wrongful behavior that an individual or an organization can be held liable for money damages to a victim(s). They include many types of wrongful behavior but the most common involve negligence, manufacture of a defective product, assault and battery.
What does it mean to be accused of the civil wrong of negligence? Negligence occurs when a person or organization does not behave consistently with societal norms in violation of the law and causes physical or property damage to another. Under the law a person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances, caused harm to a victim(s), which resulted in physical or mental harm to a victim, and/or his property. For example an individual operating his motor vehicle, runs a stop sign causing his automobile to strike another vehicle operated by an individual who was lawfully proceeding across an intersection. The struck vehicle's airbags deploy, the driver's side door is damaged, the motorist strike's her head against the driver's side window, and is cut and bleeding requiring medical treatment. The operator of the vehicle who ran the stop sign would be liable to the other motorist for his negligent behavior.
What are typical situations that involve negligence? The typical negligence case involves an automobile accident, but can arise in many other contexts including medical malpractice, negligent supervision of an employee, negligent manufacturing of a product, slip and fall, and other circumstances where the person or organization committing the wrong did not behave in accordance with social norms and caused harm to a victim or group of victims.
How long a time period after an accident or injury should I contact an attorney? It is always best to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident occurs. If a victim, however, fails to contact an attorney immediately he or she still may be entitled to money damages if the time period to bring a lawsuit has not run. If you have been a victim of the negligence of another contact my office immediately for a free consultation to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Is there a time limit that under which a suit for negligence must be initiated? Yes. The time limit is contained in a law called the Statute of Limitations. Generally, in Rhode Island a victim must file a lawsuit in court based upon negligence within three years of an incident.
Are there exceptions to the three year time limitation to bring a suit based in negligence? Yes. The exceptions to the three year limitation consist of: 1) The Discovery Rule: there are instances when a victim is unaware that an injury was caused by the negligence of another so the time period begins when the negligence could reasonably have been discovered. This commonly occurs in medical malpractice cases when it is difficult or impossible for a victim to become aware of the time that the medical negligence occurred; and 2) Injuries Involving a Minor Child: the statute of limitations begins when a minor turns 18; and 3) Person under a Disability: Such individuals may bring a lawsuit within three years from the removal of the disability; and 4) Contract Actions: For example, a victim entitled to personal injury damages by an uninsured motorist has a 10-year statute of limitations because the right to recovery is based upon an insurance contract.
What types of money damages am I entitled to if I have been the victim of negligence? In order to obtain damages resulting from the negligent behavior of another the victim must show that she suffered actual harm to her person or property that is measurable and compensable in money damages. These damages, called compensatory damages, consist of the value of the damage to one's property, reimbursement for medical costs, money damages for pain and suffering which varies depending on the severity of the injury, and lost wages if applicable. In addition, if the behavior of the person or organization that caused the injury was egregious such as
quasi-criminal conduct, reckless or maliciously intentional conduct, or a wilful act of deceit a victim may receive punitive damages. These damages are not awarded to compensate the victim but to punish and to deter others from similar conduct in the future.
Am I entitled to pre-judgment interest on a personal injury award in Rhode Island? Yes. Interest accrues at 1% per month or 12% per annum from the date of the incident causing the injury. For example, suppose a victim was awarded $100,000.00 in damages, the incident occurred on January 1, 2012, and the personal injury judgment was awarded on January 1, 2014, the victim would be entitled to 24% interest or $124,000.00 in total, minus costs of litigation.
If I was partially negligent and the other party was partially negligent for my injury am I barred from recovering money damages? No. Rhode Island is known as a Pure Comparative Fault Jurisdiction. This allows a damaged party to recover even if he is 99 percent at fault, although the recovery is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault. For example, if a court awarded $100,000 in damages and the victim and was found to be 20 percent at fault, while two other defendants were 50 percent and 30 percent at fault respectively then the victim would be entitled to recover $80,000.
If I was injured by a defective product who can I sue for damages? A manufacturer of goods and all persons or organizations that placed a defective product into the chain or stream commerce can be held liable for the defective product that causes injury. That includes a manufacturer, seller, lessor (e.g. car rental agency), or anyone who places a product in a defective condition that is unreasonably dangerous into the stream of commerce. For example, you rent a car from a rental company and the car has defective brakes, causing you to crash and be severely injured. You can file suit not only against the car rental company but also the car dealer, car manufacturer, and manufacturer of the brakes.
If someone threatens to cause me physical harm can I sue them? Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the threat a lawsuit may be filed against the perpetrator for committing the tort of assault. Assault is defined as any intentional act that is meant to cause a "reasonable apprehension of imminent and harmful contact" upon a victim. Generally, an apprehension or fear of imminent harm is established if it is a reasonable response to the situation. For example an assault occurs when the actor committing the wrong ("Sam"): 1) pulls back his right fist in the victim's face ("Sally") and says: "I''m going to punch you until you bleed and can't speak."; or 2) Sam points a black unloaded fake gun at Sally in order to scare her, but the fake gun looks like the real thing and Sally believes that Sam pointed a real gun and that Sam will shoot her; or 3) Sally is lawfully crossing the street and Sam approaches her in his car and accelerates, wanting to make Sally think she's about to get run over by his automobile. Sam brakes at the last minute, stopping the car just a few feet from Sally. Even though no actual contact or touching occurred Sam committed an assault.
If someone strikes me or touches me without my consent can I sue them? Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the contact a lawsuit may be filed against the perpetrator for committing the tort of battery. A battery is an intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive bodily contact. The victim does not have to prove that the wrongful actor intended any harm but only that he intended to make contact or intended to cause apprehension of harm which resulted in a harmful or offensive contact. It is not necessary, for battery, that the wrongful actor intended to do injury or harm to the victim. For, e.g. Sam was playing a joke on Sally and touched Sally inappropriately and she was reasonably offended. The contact to the victim must be harmful or offensive in that it must be either causing physical pain or bodily damage, or it must be offensive to a reasonable sense of dignity. A victim need not suffer physical harm, as battery also includes contacts which are offensive and damaging to a reasonable sense of dignity. For, example Sam spits at Sally and hits her with his spit; or Sally knocks Sam's cane out of his hand. For a battery to occur there must be some contact with the victim, or personal effects that can be closely associated with the victim. This includes clothing, a chair (i.e. wrongful actor pulls out the chair from the victim), a cane, etc.
What types of damages can I receive if I have been the victim of an assault or battery? An assault or battery falls into the legal category of an intentional tort. No proof of damages is required like negligence in order to make out an intentional tort case. Thus, if a victim proves his case then damages are presumed. As in a negligence case compensatory damages are awarded which could consist of reimbursement for medical costs, money damages for pain and suffering which varies depending on the severity of the injury, damages for emotional harm, and lost wages if applicable. In addition, a court could award injunctive relief, which does not include any monetary compensation, but prohibits someone from a particular behavior such as contacting a victim. In addition, if the assault or battery involved particularly egregious behavior a court could, in addition, award punitive damages to punish the wrongful actor and to deter others from engaging in this type of behavior.
Besides negligence, defective product liability, assault and battery are there other types of wrongs which can occur and result in money damages to a victim? Yes. There are many types of civil wrongs that can be suffered by a victim. These include such actions as: false imprisonment, false arrest, misuse of legal procedure, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, conversion, trespass, tortious interference with a contract, invasion of privacy, libel, slander, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. If you believe you have been a victim of a civil wrong contact my office immediately for a free one-half hour consultation.