What Is Your Question About Your Personal Injury Case?
Attorney Mark Morse will be your resource and your guide
In the wake of a personal injury, you may be confused and overwhelmed. That's understandable - you weren't expecting to be injured, and you're left unprepared to deal with the aftermath. The insurance companies, though, deal with these cases every day. If you don't have answers, you'll be left at a serious disadvantage.
The Law Office of Mark B. Morse, LLC has been helping people hurt by the negligence of others for over 25 years. We're happy to share our knowledge about these complex claims to give our users an idea of how to proceed.
- What do I need to do at the scene of an accident?
- What is "negligence" and how is it relevant to a personal injury claim?
- How much is my case worth?
- How long will my case take to resolve?
- Where does the compensation in a personal injury case come from?
- How can I get my medical bills paid?
- Can I afford to hire a personal injury lawyer?
Remember that these questions and answers are provided for general informational purposes, not as legal advice on your specific case. We strongly recommend that you meet with personal injury lawyer Mark Morse if you have been injured in Providence or anywhere in Rhode Island. Call (401) 831-0555.
Exactly what you need to do depends on the circumstances of your injury. In general, though, you need to take the following steps:
- Take pictures of the accident scene and any visible injuries.
- Get names and contact information for any witnesses.
- Seek medical help right away and comply with your doctor's instructions.
- Contact the Law Office of Mark Morse, LLC as soon as possible.
Negligence is the legal concept at the core of most personal injury cases. In order to collect damages (financial compensation) for your injuries, you need to show that another person or company owed you a duty of care that was negligently breached, and that their negligence caused you to sustain real losses. For example, the owner of a property owes a duty of care to people visiting that property to keep the premises safe. If the owner fails to install proper lighting and someone is hurt in a slip and fall accident due to the low lighting, that is an act of negligence on the part of the owner and could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
There are some circumstances in which negligence is not required to collect damages. For instance, Rhode Island is a strict liability state for dog bites, which means you can pursue damages from the dog owner even if the owner was not negligent. In the vast majority of cases, however, you and your attorney will need to prove that your injuries were caused by someone else's negligence.
In some cases, multiple parties may be partially responsible for an accident. Rhode Island uses the legal principle of comparative negligence to handle these cases, which means that each responsible party is liable for a portion of the overall award in proportion to their percentage of fault. For example, if one party was found to be 60 percent at fault and another was found to be 40 percent at fault, you could recover compensation for 60 percent of your expenses from one party and 40 percent from the other.
This principle also means you can recover some damages even if you were partially responsible for your injuries. For instance, if you were awarded $100,000 but found to be 20 percent at fault, that award would be reduced by 20 percent to $80,000. Unlike many other states, Rhode Island does not bar victims from recovering when they are over 50 percent or 51 percent at fault - this is known as pure comparative negligence. In the preceding example, if you were found to be 60 percent at fault, you could still recover damages in the amount of $40,000.
That depends on the facts of your case and the effect your injury has had on your life. In general, if you can prove that you've sustained a loss as a result of someone else's negligence, you can pursue compensation for that loss.
Most damages (financial compensation) awarded in personal injury cases are called compensatory damages, which means they are intended to make you whole again after the injury. Many of these damages are intended to compensate for a verifiable financial loss worth a specific, well-defined dollar amount. These are called economic damages, such as:
- Medical expenses, both past and future, related to your injuries.
- Lost wages while you are recovering from your injuries.
- Replacement services such as housekeeping and childcare that you cannot perform due to your injuries.
- Modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate a permanent injury.
- Lost future earnings if you are unable to work or need to take on a "light duty" job.
- Property damage resulting from the accident.
Many personal injury cases also involve non-economic damages. These are more subjective awards for non-monetary losses - but the losses they compensate for are still very real.
- Pain and suffering, which can be substantial, especially if you have chronic pain
- Emotional distress
- Loss of care, consortium and quality of life
Occasionally, a personal injury claim may give rise to punitive damages. These are additional damages awarded to punish the responsible party for particularly careless or intentional actions. For instance, punitive damages are sometimes awarded when the person who caused the injury was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or in dog bite cases when the owner knew that the dog had previously bitten and continued to let it roam unrestrained.
Compensatory damages are generally tax-exempt. The law views these funds as making you whole again after an accident rather than taxable income. Punitive damages, however, are usually considered taxable. If your claim includes punitive damages, Attorney Morse will ask the court to itemize your award into compensatory and non-compensatory amounts so that you don't end up paying taxes you should not owe.
That depends on the circumstances of your case and the willingness of the insurance company to negotiate. In general, we start negotiations with the insurance company once you have completed your medical treatment, and from that point, it takes three to nine months to reach a settlement. If your case goes to trial, it may take one to two years before you actually go before a judge, although we can still settle at any point during that time.
Our law firm is committed to reaching an efficient resolution for each of our clients. We know that you just want to get the compensation you need to move on with your life. That said, if the insurance company won't make a fair offer, we're prepared to keep working on your case for as long as it takes, and we'll stand by you every step of the way.
Most personal injury claims are paid by a liability insurance company. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, your injury may be covered under homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance, auto insurance, business liability insurance, medical malpractice insurance or one of many other types of policies. It's not uncommon for multiple insurance policies to be involved, and that's one of the reasons you need an attorney on your side. The insurance companies have their own legal representation, and accepting any offer from an insurer may deprive you of your ability to recover.
If you were injured as a result of someone else's negligence, ultimately the careless person should be responsible for your medical bills. However, their insurance company won't even start to negotiate until after you've completed your treatment, and your doctors will want to be paid much sooner than that.
Depending on the accident, you may have applicable insurance coverage to pay your medical bills in the meantime, such as health insurance or personal injury protection. However, if you don't have enough applicable coverage, Attorney Mark Morse will work with your medical providers to get treatment on an attorney's lien basis. This is an agreement to provide care at no up-front cost; your medical providers will be paid later, after we recover a settlement or verdict in your favor.
You can. The Law Office of Mark B. Morse, LLC handles personal injury cases on a contingency-fee basis. When you retain our firm, we'll advance all costs required to move your case forward, and we won't charge you a fee until and unless we recover for you. If we recover a settlement or verdict in your favor, our fee is a percentage of your recovery, so you won't have to pay out of pocket. If we don't recover for you, you owe us nothing.