Who Pays For A Car Accident In Rhode Island?
Experienced auto accident attorneys explain compensation process
You take the same route to work every day to work. You have a perfect driving record. You've never had a car accident - until now. Maybe someone ran a red light. Or changed lanes without looking. Whatever the reason, you've been in a car accident in Rhode Island. Now, you're going to have to miss work. You'll have to make visits to the doctor's office and the mechanic.
But who will pay for everything? Where will the money come from? These are questions that can easily keep you up at night worrying about your financial future. And if you don't get straight answers right away, you could end up having to pay for someone else's mistakes for the rest of your life.
The Law Office of Mark B. Morse, LLC in Providence is there to help the helpless, no questions asked. Our dedicated team of attorneys provides sound legal representation to all accident victims. After an auto accident, the legal aftermath can often be incredibly stressful to navigate. Here's what you should know.
Rhode Island's "Pure Comparative Negligence" System
If you're in a car accident in Rhode Island, both parties involved can be found at partial fault. This is called observing Pure Comparative Negligence. Under this system, a percentage of fault is assigned to each driver involved. This percentage is then used to determine the amount of financial compensation each party is entitled to after the crash.
For example, if you were hit by a driver who didn't signal when merging into your lane and they caused your accident, they may be found 100 percent at fault. If you played a part in causing the accident, such as speeding or driving while distracted, it can be argued that you also hold partial responsibility. Instead of being 100 percent responsible for the accident, the driver who failed to signal has assigned 30 percent of the blame to you, reducing the amount of your settlement that you're entitled to by 30 percent. As a result, if your accident settlement was valued at $100,000, you would only receive $70,000 if you were 30 percent at fault.
In the event that either party is injured, they can still recover some amount of damages. In states that observe pure comparative negligence like Rhode Island, having an attorney on your side is greatly beneficial for your case. After all, you were a victim of a collision. You deserve someone dedicated to serving justice on your behalf.
Car Insurance Requirements in Rhode Island:
Every driver is required by law to have car insurance coverage. The law gives a standard of minimums to be followed, but purchasing coverage over the minimum amount is always encouraged. Minimum car insurance requirements in Rhode Island include:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person involved in the accident
- $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person in an accident
- $25,000 for damage to someone else's' vehicle or property
What does insurance cover?
- MedPay is there to assist in paying for medical expenses. Seeking medical attention is something you should always do after a collision, even if you feel "fine" after your accident. You could have serious injury and not even realize it.
- Lost wages: Missing work due to an injury results in a dent in your paycheck, but your insurance can help you recoup those losses.
Optional insurance coverage
In addition to minimum mandated insurance coverage, you have the option of purchasing additional coverage in Rhode Island. Such additional coverage includes:
- Collision coverage - This type of coverage can assist in paying for the damage received by your vehicle in event of a collision.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage - While often optional, this type of insurance is always a worthy investment. There's no guarantee that whoever crashes into you will have adequate insurance coverage, or any, to properly compensate for your losses.
- Rental Reimbursement - Reimburses you in the event that you need to rent a car after your accident
- Comprehensive Coverage - This will pay for and cover damage done to your vehicle outside of a collision, such as that sustained in a flood, fire, and in the event of vandalism or theft
- Towing and Labor - This coverage supports you when your car is unable to be driven and requires a tow.
It should be noted that if you are currently financing or leasing your car, collision coverage is not optional.
What do I do after the accident?
In the moments following a collision, your mind has a hard time focusing on what to do next. Your entire life has been turned upside down in the blink of an eye. After the initial panic settles, what do you do? We strongly advise you to take the following steps:
- Alert the police - Establish a report of your accident as soon as possible. This will work in your favor if the accident wasn't your fault, and can provide a useful upper hand for your case.
- Take photographs - Most people have smartphones with a built in camera nowadays, providing a convenient way to document the damage done to each vehicle involved. Taking photos of licenses and insurance information can also be a valuable backup should you lose written documentation of either. If you don't have a way to take photos, ask the police to assist you. This photographic evidence can then be added to your report.
- Seek medical attention - Just because you feel "fine" doesn't mean you are. Whiplash, muscle damage and a multitude of other injuries may not show their symptoms for days. Make sure you have a doctor examine you. Your health should always come first.
- Don't claim fault - Avoid statements like "I wasn't looking," or "I was going too fast." These seemingly-simply statements can work against you. Insurance company investigations often use them to deny your claim and insist you were the one who caused the crash.
- Follow up with doctor - Even if you were examined by a medical professional immediately after your accident, it's always smart to schedule a follow-up appointment with your physician. Seeing a doctor as soon as possible will allow you to make an injury claim right away. And the sooner you see a doctor, the harder it is for an insurance adjuster to argue that your injury was exaggerated.
- Find witnesses - If possible, find people at or around the scene of your accident who witnessed the event, preferably from start to finish. Make sure to get their full name, address and phone number as well. That way, you can reach them later if you or anyone else has any questions.
- Keep track of expenses - Every dollar spent is a dollar that is eligible to be reimbursed. Keep receipts for everything from pain medication co-pays, hospital and doctor visits, the mechanic and any other accident-related expenses you may encounter. And make sure you make copies of all receipts.
- Write it down - Take a personal account of the incident. Write down everything that happened as quickly as possible. Memories and timelines can become muddled and fade with time. So it's important to establish a clear chain of events as soon as possible to keep your account consistent.
Making a case for your compensation
Don't delay filing a claim. The longer you wait, the harder it often becomes to find the facts you need to build a strong, legal case. Rhode Island has specific "statutes of limitations" in place, marking your ability to a potential lawsuit with an expiration date.
The statute of limitations on filing a personal injury lawsuit in Rhode Island is 3 years, while property damage claims can be filed up to 10 years after an accident. Such deadlines might seem like a long time. But the evidence you need to successfully obtain the money you deserve rarely lasts that long.
You might not need to file a lawsuit to get the money you deserve. But it always pays to have that option available. If we're negotiating with an insurance company on your behalf, insurance companies always behave differently when they know we have the to power to file a lawsuit against them. That's why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side, assisting you in claiming the compensation you deserve. Contact us to take a stand against your injustice.
I was hit by an uninsured/underinsured driver-now what?
Uninsured motorist insurance is an optional add-on to the insurance you purchase. You're free to reject it, as long as the rejection is done in writing. But if you have a choice, we strongly advise drivers to obtain optional insurance coverage for accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers.
In the case of an underinsured driver, the amount of damages you sustained may exceed the other drivers' policy limits, meaning more work for you to collect the remaining balance. Now you have to deal with your own insurance company, seeking to obtain coverage.
In the case of an uninsured driver, you may feel totally helpless, as going after their own assets is like trying to drain the sea with a thimble. Uninsured drivers are often in the position they are due to an inability to afford their own coverage. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hiring an attorney to help your case can help ensure that all your legal bases are covered. And as your attorney, we will tirelessly search for ways to recover your losses.
Rest easy with the assistance of a skilled legal team
There's so much uncertainty in the aftermath of an auto accident. We can be your beacon of hope, guiding you through the storm. We thoroughly understand how Rhode Island's insurance system works. We know what forms to fill out, what questions to ask and how to effectively negotiate with insurance companies for the best possible outcome.
You have enough things to worry about after your accident. Making sure you hired the right lawyer to fight for your rights should not be one of them. We can give your case the attention and care it rightfully deserves. Located in Providence, The Law Office of Mark B. Morse, LLC can focus on your case while you focus on what really matters - your recovery. Don't wait to take legal action. Contact us today and schedule your free case consultation right now.