Frequently asked questions

Personal Injury

What steps should I take immediately after an accident?


When an accident occurs, it leaves everyone involved nervous and confused. Sheeley Law recommends you read “Eight Critical Steps to Take If You’ve Been In an Accident,” and print a copy to keep in your glove compartment. The most important thing is to seek medical attention, even if you do not think you are injured, and then call a personal injury attorney if you believe the other driver is at fault.




How soon after an accident should I contact a personal injury attorney?


If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or involved in an accident at work, you should contact an experienced lawyer right away. The statute of limitations, which refers to the time period that legal action is allowed, may begin at the time of the injury in personal injury cases. Moreover, evidence begins to disappear shortly after an accident so the longer you wait, the less evidence available to ensure you receive the settlement you deserve.




My accident was weeks/months ago, is it too late to hire an attorney?


The sooner you contact an experienced personal injury attorney, the better. However, if you did not contact a personal injury attorney right away, it is still worth the phone call or email to Sheeley Law to discuss your particular situation at no cost and with no obligation.




Why do I need a lawyer if I have been injured?


If you were injured in an accident and it was the other party’s fault, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is of critical importance. The legal process following an accident can be long and complicated, and intrusive into your personal life. Insurance companies employ an army of adjusters and lawyers to protect their interests. With more than 25 years of experience, Attorney Ann Sheeley will protect your rights and fight for maximum compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages as well as loss of future income. Contact Sheeley Law today for a free consultation.




What should I do if the other driver’s insurance company and/or attorney calls me?


Do not discuss the accident or give a statement to the insurance company or attorney for the "at-fault" driver. As the old adage goes, “What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You!" Rather, instruct their insurance company, adjuster or attorney to contact your personal injury attorney.




Is my case big enough for a lawyer to want to handle?


Sheeley Law offers a free consultation with flexible and convenient scheduling and we encourage you to contact us to discuss your particular situation. Attorney Ann Sheeley has more than 25 years of experience in handling cases of all sizes. We will always fight hard to give you the results you need because results matter.




Can I get help with paying my medical bills even if I’m not sure the other driver is totally at fault?


Yes. In Rhode Island, the comparative negligence system is used. In short, if you have some fault in an accident, you are still entitled to the damages brought on to you by the other party.




Should I take the insurance company’s settlement?


You should not accept the settlement without talking to a personal injury attorney first. Sadly, many insurance companies take advantage of vulnerable people by working hard to settle claims quickly and for the lowest possible amount. While settling your claim quickly might sound like the right thing to do at the time, it’s critical to take the time to fully assess any injuries you may have. You only have one opportunity to prove your injuries. Once you accept a settlement, that decision is final and you lose your rights to ever file another claim again – even if you discover your injuries are far worse than you originally thought and you notice problems down the road.

Click here for useful tips on how to get the maximum settlement from an insurance company.




How much is my case worth?


First and foremost, if a lawyer or law firm gives you a dollar value for your case right away, don’t trust it. They are likely making unrealistic promises. It is impossible to know what kind of settlement to expect before investigating the extent of any injuries sustained, medical costs, lost wages, future expenses, and pain and suffering. This is why it is important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney, such as Attorney Ann Sheeley, who will complete a thorough investigation and who will never advise you to accept a settlement for less than you truly deserve. Each case is unique, so the best way to learn about what compensation you may be entitled to is to contact Sheeley Law for a free consultation.




How long will it take to settle my personal injury case?


The amount of time it takes to settle a personal injury claim depends on the circumstances of the accident, extent of your injuries, and other factors. Your case could settle in as little as a month or two or it could take a year or longer. As part of our due diligence, we will investigate the accident, calculate the full value of your losses and suffering, and seek maximum compensation in settlement negotiations or at trial. In addition to seeking compensation for medical costs, lost income or loss of earning capacity and pain and suffering, Sheeley Law will seek 100 percent of your property losses. Handling a case the correct way takes time but in the end but results in the best possible outcome for you. Attorney Ann Sheeley will guide you every step of the way and keep you informed throughout the process.




I was hit by a car while I was walking? Who is at fault?


In many cases, the driver of the vehicle is considered at fault if he/she failed to stop for pedestrians at a crosswalk; ran a red light; made a left- or right-hand turn without yielding for pedestrians; did not come to a complete stop before turning right on red; was speeding or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, this is not always the case. Rhode Island has pedestrian traffic laws that need to be obeyed. Click here to learn about Rhode Island's pedestrian laws.




What are RI's pedestrian laws?


All residents should familiarize themselves and obey our state’s traffic laws R.I.G.L. § 31-18-3. Most assume that pedestrians always have the right of way, but this is not the case. Click here to read about Rhode Island's Pedestrian Laws.





Criminal Defense

What should I tell the officer during/after an arrest?


If you have been arrested, do not answer any questions by a police officer or any third party. Politely let them know you do not plan on answering any questions and that you would like to evoke your rights to speak with an attorney. For more information and advice on this topic, click here to read our tip sheet.




Should I refuse to take a Breathalyzer and/or Blood Test if I was pulled over for a DUI/OUI?


Legally, you DO NOT have to grant permission or “submit” to either a breathalyzer and/or blood test. However, Rhode Island has an "implied consent law,” meaning if you refuse, you will automatically receive a Refusal charge. If you agree to submit to a breathalyzer test, the results can be used against you in court and that could be enough evidence to support a DUI/OUI conviction, which has much more severe penalties than a Refusal charge. If this is your first offense, the main advantage in refusing to submit to a breathalyzer and/or blood test is that you may avoid a criminal conviction. Refusing a breathalyzer and/or blood test results in a civil citation, and is not classified as a crime. By accepting the consequences of the civil citation, a prosecutor may drop the DUI – First Offense charge, avoiding a criminal conviction. For more information on this topic, click here to read our blog.




What are the typical consequences for a DUI conviction?


In Rhode Island, a first DUI/OUI offense mandates a minimum of six (6) months loss of license. I If you do not have an experienced attorney by your side, you could lose your license for up to one year, and you will likely receive hefty fines, community service and driver retraining classes. Furthermore, your car insurance costs will likely go up even though the Rhode Island recently passed a law that it will no longer require SR-22s, which is an additional vehicle liability insurance for "high-risk" insurance policies. Second DUI charges and greater offenses carry much harsher penalties. For more information on DUI/OUI's and how Attorney Ann Sheeley can help, click here.




Is it possible to beat a DUI/OUI case?


Yes, a DUI conviction is not a certainty, even if you blew over .08. Before you decide to plead guilty, you should speak with an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer. Ann Sheeley has more than 25 years of experience, including DUI Cases, in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts court systems. She will be by your side through the entire process, help protect your rights, thoroughly review the events leading to your arrest, and look for issues that could lead to a dismissal of the charge or reduction to a non-alcohol driving offense.




Why should I hire an attorney after an arrest?


If you have been arrested or are under investigation for a crime, it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible to protect your rights and minimize the consequences. Often times, the prosecuting attorney will seek the harshest penalties if you do not have representation. It is essential to get experienced legal counsel to protect your rights in all types of criminal cases. Attorney Ann Sheeley understands the criminal justice system and what is at stake for her clients. Sheeley Law vows to protect your rights and works hard to ensure that you have the best possible outcome.




What are some possible defense strategies against a DUI charge?


With more than 25 years of experience representing clients who have been arrested for a DUI/OUI, Attorney Ann Sheeley will thoroughly review the events leading to your arrest and look for issues that could lead to a dismissal of the charge or reduction to a non-alcohol driving offense. Some of these issues include the following:

  • Lack of reasonable suspicion for the police to stop you
  • Improperly conducted field sobriety tests
  • Lack of probable cause to arrest you
  • Inadmissible breath or blood test results
  • Denial of your constitutional rights

Police officers sometimes make mistakes when investigating drivers for drunk driving offenses. Ann Sheeley will review dash cam videos, the post-arrest police report, police station videos and other evidence looking for mistakes that could form the basis for an effective defense.




What is a Hardship License?


Rhode Island now has a conditional Hardship License, which may allow you to continue driving to and from work, school or medical appointments. Contact Sheeley Law to see if this might apply to you.




Does law enforcement have the right to search my property?


If officers suspect something, they likely will try to conduct a search whether it is your home, your business, your vehicle, etc. If the officer does not have a warrant you do not have to let them search. You can refuse it. However, if you give the officer permission, they do not need a warrant to conduct a search. As your attorney, one of the first things we will do is determine whether or not the police conducted a legal search and seizure. Entrapment is a common cause of illegal search and seizures, and occurs when an individual is induced or cajoled by the police into breaking the law when that individual would not have broken the law otherwise. If you believe your search and seizure was illegal, we will use that to build your case as there is a chance drugs confiscated during an illegal search would not be admissible in court. Contact Ann Sheeley for a free consultation.




I was arrested for drugs but they were not mine. How can I prove that to the judge?


Your best chance of beating the charge is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Ann Sheeley has a reputation for putting pressure on the prosecution to prove that the drugs actually belonged to you versus anyone else. For example, if drugs were found in a car and there were several people riding, it may be difficult to prove beyond a doubt that the substance was yours. As your attorney, we will evaluate what is called an “unwitting possession” strategy. Even if illegal drugs are discovered on someone’s person, that person cannot be convicted of illegally possessing drugs if he or she did not know that the drugs were there – that is, if the person “unwittingly” possessed the illegal drugs.




I have an upcoming bail hearing? What can I expect?


As the prosecution of a criminal case moves through arrest-to-arraignment-to-trial, the courts assess the level of bail that will be applied to the criminal defendant. Bail is determined at bail hearings, and can be cash or assets. The courts use bail when there is likelihood that the defendant may be a flight risk and hence is used as a tool to prevent the defendant from fleeing. In certain cases, where the defendant is considered a danger to others, the courts may deny bail. Should you find yourself, or a loved one, about to attend a bail hearing you should be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the best possible outcome.




What actions can lead to a “probation violation”?


When a person is placed on probation, the court can impose several conditions that must be met. The law states that a defendant is not entitled to probation as a matter of right. The court has the ability to revoke a probationary term if the probationer violates any of the terms set by the court. Some common causes of probation violation include:

  • You did not appear in court during a scheduled appearance on a set date and time.
  • You did not report to your probation officer at the scheduled time or place.
  • You did not pay the mandated fines and/or court costs from a previous conviction.
  • You did not pay restitution as mandated by a court.
  • You have had contact with known felons or violated a no contact order.
  • You've traveled out of state without the permission of your probation officer or the court.
  • You did not complete counseling, education, or treatment as required.
  • You failed to supply documents as required by the court.
  • You got caught possessing, using or selling illegal drugs.
  • You tested positive for an illegal drug or alcohol.
  • You have recently been arrested for another crime.
If you have violated your probation, contact Ann Sheeley for a free consultation.




I’ve been accused of violating my probation. What should I do?


When there has been a violation of the terms and conditions of probation, the court system will call for a probation hearing. The purpose of these hearings is to review any probation violation with a view to levying additional punishment. The additional punishment levied at a probation hearing is to a great degree left up to the discretion of the probation officer. If you find yourself, or a loved one, being called before a probation hearing it is imperative that you are represented by a tough, experienced criminal defense law firm, such as Sheeley Law, who will guide you through the process and protect your rights.




How can I get previous criminal charges off my record?


Depending on the nature of your arrest and any associated criminal charges, an expungement or sealing of the charges, if granted by the court, will remove any mention of the criminal matter from all court records, police department records, probation department records and the Bureau of Criminal Identification. As a result, your public record will not include the arrest(s) that were expunged or sealed.




Why should I consider expunging or sealing my record?


Previous arrests are on your public record are easily accessible by current and future employers, landlords, banks and even family members. Even if you were never convicted of a crime, your record can still harm and negatively impact your life. The good news is Rhode Island is considered to be fairly lenient with regards to expungement. Sheeley Law has more than 25 years of experience helping people clean the slate and move on from prior mistakes.




What types of criminal offenses can you expunge?


Dismissed charges and not guilty findings can almost always be expunged. It is important that if you are seeking to get a dismissed or not guilty charge expunged, you stay out of trouble for a year, otherwise there is a risk your expungement will be denied by the court.

A misdemeanor or felony conviction is classified as any sentence imposed by a judge that includes a fine, suspended sentence or incarceration. Even though probation or a deferred sentence does not necessarily mean you were convicted of a crime, per Rhode Island Law, they are treated the same way as convictions when it comes to expungement cases. Generally speaking, if you have a misdemeanor offense, it may be expunged five years after the completion of the sentence or probationary period. This includes probation, a suspended sentence, a deferred sentence, a stayed sentence or fines. A new Rhode Island Law came into effect on July 18, 2017 which allows up to 5 misdemeanors on a person’s record to be expunged.

If you have a felony on your record and received either probation, a deferred sentence, a suspended sentence or prison time, you may be able to get your record expunged ten years after the completion of the sentence or probationary period.

Current and potential employers, landlords, and even your family can view details about your case. Expungement can provide you a great opportunity for a fresh start. Contact Sheeley Law, an experienced criminal defense law firm, to see if you qualify to get your record expunged or sealed.





Workers' Compensation

What is Workers' Compensation?


Workers' Compensation is designed to provide assistance to employees injured at work for medical expenses and lost wages. Most employers are required to have workers' compensation insurance to cover these benefits.




How do I know if I am covered by Workers’ Compensation?


In general, most employees in Rhode Island are covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance. Sole proprietors, independent contractors, certain real estate, agricultural and domestic service employees (such as housekeepers, nannys etc.) may not be covered. Police, firefighters, and federal employees are covered under different compensation programs. Municipal employees are only covered if the municipality has chosen to be covered. It can be difficult and time consuming to determine whether or not you are covered by workers’ compensation. If you are unsure whether or not you are covered under Workers’ Compensation insurance, you should speak to Attorney Ann Sheeley who has over 25 years of experience representing employees who have sustained injuries from their job.




If my injury was related to my job but did not occur at my actual place of work, will I still qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits?


The answer to this question is situational. If the injury occurs during employment, typically the answer is yes. For example, if you were traveling for work and were hurt during your travels, you may qualify for Workers' Compensation. It is best to contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney to ensure your rights are protected and you receive all that you are entitled to receive.




What should I do if my employer or my employer’s insurance company denies my workers’ compensation claim?





Why do I need an attorney?


Insurance companies want to keep their claim costs low, and they may deny legitimate claims or terminate benefits before workers have fully recovered. An experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney, such as Attorney Ann Sheeley, will guide you through the complicated process, inform you of your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. If you have suffered an injury while on the job, you should contact Sheeley Law for a free consultation.




Can I sue my employer?


Workers’ Compensation is designed to be a no-fault system. That means that you cannot sue your employer for your injuries, even if your employer is primarily at fault. However, if your injury was at least partly the fault of another party, such as a contractor or an equipment supplier, you may be able to make a third-party claim in addition to your Workers’ Compensation claim. This may enable you to obtain additional compensation for lost income, and pain and suffering. Sheeley Law provides aggressive representation for injured workers, and we will seek maximum compensation from all possible sources.




What will my compensation rate be?


Rates will vary depending on the case but generally speaking, you can expect 75% of your gross income plus medical expenses paid.




I was hurt at work but was scared to speak up. What is the statute of limitations?


In the state of Rhode Island, you have two years from the date of injury to file a claim.




I hurt my right hand at work so I have been using my left hand a lot and now it is starting to hurt. Is that covered by Workers’ Compensation?


Yes. The “flow-from” injury, which is described as overusing an opposing body part, is covered by Workers’ Compensation.




I was injured at work. Do I need to schedule an appointment with my Doctor, even if I don’t believe my injuries were not that severe?


Yes, you should always seek treatment from your doctor. Remember, as a worker covered by Workers’ Compensation, you have rights. For example, while the Workers’ Compensation insurance company may try to steer you to a particular doctor for treatment, you can go to a doctor of your choice. You also have the right to challenge a denied claim or a decision to terminate your benefits. The legal team at Sheeley Law can review your situation with you during a free consultation, explain your rights and discuss how we can help you get all of the benefits you are entitled to receive.





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