After a car accident, the law in Rhode Island allows injured victims to take legal action against the person responsible for causing the crash. With the help of a lawyer from Gemma Law Associates, you can obtain compensation for your medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
The process of taking legal action can be confusing to some accident victims, but our accident attorneys will guide you through all of the steps to making a claim.
You can expect your case to go through the following steps:
1. Initial consultation: Talk to a RI Car Accident Lawyer
The purpose of your initial consultation is to determine if you have a claim against any other drivers or entities responsible for causing your car accident. Your consultation is free. You will have the chance to tell your story to one of our experienced Providence accident lawyers.
When you come for your initial consultation, we’ll ask you about who was involved in the car accident, what the circumstances were, and what injuries you suffered.
If you have information such as a police report from the accident, photographs from the accident scene, medical bills or records documenting your injuries, and/or insurance information for you and the other drivers, please bring that information with you.
2. Development of Your Case: Your RI Car Accident Case
If you have a viable claim, Gemma Law Associates will gather all of the available information and develop a plan for how to obtain compensation for you.
First, we will review your insurance policy and the policy of anyone else involved in the accident to determine what coverage is available. All insurance policies have limits.
If the driver who caused your accident has insufficient insurance, you may be able to obtain some compensation from him and some from the underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on your own policy. There may also be third parties to blame, such as the employer of the driver or the car manufacturer. All potential information on insurance coverage for all possible defendants will be reviewed.
We will also take a look at police reports, accident records, medical records, and information from witnesses. We will even be able to get some preliminary information from witnesses.
We’ll use the available documents and information to start helping you put together a cohesive picture of the crash so you can prove the other driver is to blame and prevail in your claim.
3. Filing a lawsuit: Get Compensation for Your RI Car Accident
Generally, the next step involves filing a lawsuit. The suit is filed in civil court in the area (jurisdiction) where the accident happened. You may name one defendant – the driver who hit you – or multiple defendants in the lawsuit.
You have to follow specific court rules for how the information is presented and make sure you are actually stating a legal claim. Our Rhode Island car accident lawyers will take care of all of the technical details and paperwork for you. The defendant will then be notified that the case has been filed.
It is important you file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, or you could be prevented from making a claim. Gemma Law Associates will make sure you meet the deadline.
4. The Pre-Trial Process: Car Accident Lawyer Can Help!
During the pre-trial process, we’ll continue to work on putting together your case. Depositions will occur. We will sit down and formally interview witnesses and potential witnesses in the presence of a court reporter. The witnesses will have to answer under oath. The purpose is to get more information and to get a preview of what they will say in court so we can determine how their testimony will fit in with the story we’re telling the jury about the accident.
In addition to depositions, we may request documents from the defendant(s). For example, if we’re making a claim that says the accident happened because a trucking company failed to maintain the brakes, we would request their maintenance records. The defendants have to turn over relevant documents and details during the “discovery” process that occurs before trial.
Both your attorneys and the defendants can make requests of the court at this time, called pre-trial motions. During trial preparations during the pre-trial process, we may also work to find expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction experts, who can testify on your behalf.
5. Settlement Negotiations: Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyer
Settlement negotiations can start right after your injury and continue until the jury reaches a verdict. Settlement negotiations involve trying to come to an agreement with the defendant to avoid going to court.
In almost all cases, you are actually negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company, which is why it is so important to have a Rhode Island car accident lawyer representing you. Insurance companies want to settle for as little as possible so they can keep more money, and they’ll often try to coerce you into agreeing to take less than you should.
The idea behind a settlement agreement is that the defendant pays out a set amount of money in exchange for giving up any right to go to court. This gives them certainty and helps them avoid legal bills, and it allows them to avoid a trial. So, a settlement can benefit both parties – if the agreement is fair.
You will want to make sure the settlement covers all of your losses, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering.
In negotiating a settlement, it helps to have a strong case. You want to present your evidence and information to the insurance company and convince them that you will likely win in court. The insurance company will be more inclined to settle if they believe you’re going to win and if they are worried about the jury coming back with a large verdict.
If you cannot come to a settlement agreement on your own, you may go to mediation. This is where a third party tries to help facilitate an agreement. Mediation is optional. The mediator simply helps you to communicate. He doesn’t decide a settlement for you. Still, it can be advantageous to come to an agreement, either with or without a mediator, to avoid the stress of trial.
6. Trial: Rhode Island Car Accident Case
If your case doesn’t settle, you will proceed to trial. You and the defendant can both present your evidence. The jury will first decide if the defendant is to blame for the crash. If so, the jury will decide on the amount of money (damages) you should receive.
Remember, you have the burden of proving the defendant was at fault. You can do this by showing he was unreasonably careless or by showing he broke safety laws in a way that led to your crash.
There are specific rules for how evidence is presented, and a Gemma Law Associates accident lawyer can help convince the jury to return a verdict in your favor.
7. Verdict and Judgment: Your Providence Car Accident Case
When the jury decides the case for you, they will render a verdict. This means they will say whether the defendant was responsible or not, and they will say how much the defendant has to pay.
You will next have to try to collect the money you were awarded. Ideally, the money will simply be paid out by the insurance company right away. In some cases – especially if you were dealing with a defendant who was paying his own way – you might face more challenges in getting your money. Additional court actions to get a lien placed on the defendant’s property or to garnish his wages may be required.
8. Appeal: Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyer
In some cases, the defendant may appeal if the jury decides in your favor. Likewise, if you aren’t happy with the outcome, you may be able to appeal. When you appeal, you ask a higher court to review the case to see if any mistakes were made.
Generally, the appeal focuses on whether there were errors in the way the law was applied rather than mistakes made in deciding whether facts are true. In other words, if you said the other driver was speeding, but the evidence wasn’t clear, and the jury didn’t believe the other driver was speeding, the appeal isn’t going to change what the jury believed.
On the other hand, if there was evidence presented that shouldn’t have been allowed in, this can be considered a mistake in the law, and the outcome might be changed, or the case sent back for the original court to correct its mistakes.
9. Paying Liens and Fees: RI Car Accident
The final step is paying out the money you owe after you’ve been awarded damages. Legal fees are charged only in cases where you obtain compensation, so this will be the time when you need to pay your lawyer. The payment is based on a percentage of the amount of money you recovered in the case.
You may also have liens on your judgment from insurance companies. For example, if your health insurance company paid $100,000 in medical bills, and you were awarded money for medical bills, your health insurer is going to want to be paid back. If you were paid workers’ compensation benefits but got money back to cover lost wages, you may need to pay back the workers’ compensation insurer.
Once the fees and costs have been paid, the rest of the money will be paid out to you.
The aim of your Rhode Island car accident lawyer is always to maximize the amount of compensation you receive so that the settlement you get will be enough to ensure that your medical and other needs are met for the rest of your life.
Learn More by Calling a Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyer Today
To learn more about the process of pursuing a car accident claim in Providence or anywhere else in Rhode Island, call Gemma Law Associates. Our initial consultations are free and confidential and carry no obligations. Just call us at our toll-free number or submit our online form to get started on your case today.