Personal Injury Lawyer
If you experience a personal injury due to someone else's negligence, you need an experienced lawyer to protect your rights and fight for fair compensation.
After a serious accident, you face many challenges related to personal injuries. While you are trying to recover from your injuries, you must deal with insurance companies that have their interests in mind, not yours. You may not be able to work, and all the while medical bills and household expenses keep piling up.
You need a personal injury lawyer to fight for you. Sadly, many insurance companies may take advantage of vulnerable people by working hard to settle claims quickly and for the lowest possible amount. While settling your personal injury 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 and a personal injury lawyer can help. Once you accept a settlement, that decision is final and you may 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. For more information and useful tips on how to get the maximum settlement offer from an insurance company, click here.
Personal Injury Lawyer Ann Sheeley has practiced personal injury law since 1988 and has handled thousands of injury lawsuits. In court and in settlement negotiations, she will be your advocate, standing up for your rights and interests at all times. Whether you have been injured due to a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a slip-and-fall or another act of negligence, you can depend on Attorney Sheeley for strong and skillful advocacy in your lawsuit.
If you were in an accident, you likely have many questions. Read our FAQs for answers to the most commonly asked questions and don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.
How Were You Hurt?
We handle a wide variety of cases and types of accidents, including cars and trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrian accidents, slip and falls, animal bites and medical malpractice.
Personal Injury FAQs
Q. Is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney?
A. Deciding whether to hire a personal injury lawyer is a very important decision, and the answer depends on several factors. There are certain types of accidents and injuries that almost always require an attorney. For example, if you suffered serious or permanently disabling injuries due to someone else’s negligence, whether it be from a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian accident, a slip and fall, an animal attack or a medical procedure gone wrong, it is critical you hire an attorney.
If your injuries are preventing you from working, paying household bills, if you have medical bills piling up, if you require hospitalization or surgery, or if you suffered debilitating physical or emotional damages as a result of the accident, you should hire a personal injury attorney.
Here’s why: After a serious accident, you will face many challenges, such as dealing with insurance companies, medical bills and lost wages. Attempting to handle a claim on your own immediately puts you at a disadvantage. Personal injury is complex and Rhode Island has its own set of laws. If you choose to represent yourself, you not only need to be well versed in tort law, but you also need practical knowledge of how the court system works. Without knowledge and experience, you will have a major disadvantage.
There are other important reasons to hire a qualified attorney to represent you in a personal injury case. Insurance companies always try to settle claims quickly, out of court, and with a low-ball offer. They also have their own team of attorneys whose only job is to fight cases like yours. With a skilled attorney such as Ann Sheeley representing your case, protecting your rights and fighting to get you fair compensation, the insurance company(ies) will take your claim more seriously and you more likely than not get a higher settlement offer. Statistics show that almost always the amount of any settlement or award you receive will be higher if you have an attorney represent you. The increase of what you receive will more than likely make up for the cost of having the attorney representing you, as well as saving you the time and headache of attempting to deal with a very complex insurance and legal system yourself.
Q. Should I hire a personal injury attorney if my injuries are minor?
A. Many people are reluctant to hire a lawyer for injuries that seem relatively minor. For example, if you get into a car accident and you only have a few scrapes and bruises and a sore neck, you may not feel it is necessary to hire a lawyer. However, bear in mind, injuries can get worse over time, and you may still incur medical expenses that you should not have to pay if the accident was not your fault. If your injuries turn out to be worse than you expected and you have already accepted a settlement offer from an insurance company, there will be nothing you can do as you give up any and all future claims when you settle. Attempting to handle a claim on your own only to hire a lawyer down the road complicates the process, so it's important to have an attorney by your side from the beginning, so your case is handled correctly.
If you are unsure whether you have a legitimate case or you may be partially at-fault for the accident, you should still contact experienced personal injury lawyer Ann Sheeley. Remember, you have nothing to lose by requesting a free consultation. In addition, Rhode Island is what is called a “pure comparative negligence” state, meaning it does not require the other party to be 100% at fault for you to have a viable claim.
Q. What kind of cases do personal injury lawyers handle?
A. Personal injury lawyers focus their practice on representing individual(s) that have been injured as a result of someone else’s (individual or company) negligence or intentional misconduct. The first thing that comes to most people’s minds are car accidents. Although car accidents account for many cases, they are certainly not the only type of “accident” handled by personal injury lawyers.
Law firms like Sheeley Law handle a wide variety of cases and different types of accidents, including car and truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle and pedestrian accidents, slip and falls, animal bites, medical malpractice and receiving the incorrect medicine or dosage from a pharmacy. If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case, it is important to find a Rhode Island licensed attorney who has specific experience in your type of accident.
Q. How does a personal injury lawsuit work? What are the steps in a personal injury case?
A. Every personal injury case is unique, but there are certain steps in the claim process that you can expect. At the heart of any legitimate personal injury case is, of course, an injury of some kind. In order for a case to move forward, there has to be proof of injury caused by someone else’s negligence (partial or total fault). After you consult with Rhode Island personal injury attorney Ann Sheeley, you will have a better idea if your case is viable. From there, we will conduct an exploratory investigation, gathering all the facts, medical records, loss of wages, etc. in order to file a personal injury complaint in the appropriate civil court.
In what is called the pre-trial process, attorneys for both the plaintiff (the injured party filing the claim) and the defendant will build their case by compiling evidence and witness information in a phase called "discovery." It is possible that both sides will need to appear in court to inform the judge of how the case is proceeding, to agree (or not agree) to mediation or arbitration, and to set a trial date. Often times, your attorney can handle this without requiring you to be present.
Some personal injury cases settle before trial but that depends upon the specific circumstances of your accident and the amount of compelling evidence in your favor. At any point in the legal process, the parties can settle, however, a skilled personal injury attorney will not want to settle right away. If your attorney was able to build a strong case, they will submit a “demand letter” seeking a certain amount for damages and pain and suffering. From there, it is likely a series of negotiations will take place. Your lawyer should fight hard on your behalf to make sure you get the maximum settlement you deserve.
If your case goes to trial, a judge or jury will determine fault and decide on the amount you are entitled to receive. After trial, either party can petition for an appeal. Once the appeals process is exhausted and the judge issues a final verdict, if it is in the plaintiff’s favor, the defendant will be required by law to pay the damages affirmed by the court.
Q. How much should I ask for in a personal injury settlement?
A. The amount you should ask for or settle upon depends on a number of factors. Unfortunately, it is not possible to estimate the value of your case with any degree of accuracy until we get to know more about the situation through your consultation with Attorney Ann Sheeley and she completes the discovery process. Be wary of any attorney that makes promises just to get your case. It is unethical for them to exaggerate your case's potential and create unrealistic expectations just to secure you as a client.
How much you ultimately receive in your personal injury case largely depends on the severity of your injuries and if the other party bears total responsibility for their negligence. The type of injuries you sustained from your accident, the length of recovery time, and your medical expenses, including the amount of medical expenses you may incur in the future for the treatment of your injuries, are all factors. Other common damages you can claim are economic damages (for example, the amount of lost wages from missing work and any decrease in your future ability to earn a living due to your injuries), emotional damages (pain and suffering) and punitive damages (damages assessed in the legal process to punish a defendant for their negligence).
Q. How much do lawyers take from the settlement?
A. Most personal injury lawyers that represent the plaintiff (injured party) work on what is called a contingency fee basis. This means they do not get paid unless they can obtain some amount of monetary compensation for you. In the majority of standard personal injury cases, your lawyer will take 1/3 of any compensation obtained for you. So, if you receive $100,000 in a settlement, your attorney will get $30,000 plus reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.
Some lawyers structure their agreements on a sliding scale that is still based on a percentage of the amount of money you receive. For example, the agreement may stipulate that the lawyer gets 30 percent if you settle before a lawsuit is filed, one-third if you settle after the lawsuit is filed but during the discovery process, or 40 percent if the case has to go to trial and damages are awarded by a jury.
If you hire Sheeley Law to represent you in your personal injury case, the fee will be contingent, which means that we only get paid if we win your case. We do not charge any fee for the initial consultation (regardless of how long the initial meeting lasts) or after taking your case we are unable to obtain a settlement or award on your behalf.
Q. When should you contact a personal injury lawyer?
A. If someone else is responsible for your injuries sustained from a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian accident, a slip and fall, an animal attack, a botched medical procedure, or inaccurately filled drug prescription, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.
There are many issues that will need to be addressed right away, and if you are not familiar with the legal process and the laws in Rhode Island, you will likely be frustrated and confused as to what you should and should not do. For example, you may be asked to fill out insurance forms or give a recorded statement by the other party’s insurance company. A reputable attorney like Ann Sheeley will be able to answer all your questions, and, more importantly, alleviate a lot of the burden on you by dealing directly with the other parties involved and their insurance carriers, so you can focus on your treatment and the healing process.
Another reason you don’t want to delay is your personal injury lawyer will want to immediately start investigating your claim and gathering evidence that will support your case. If you delay in hiring an attorney, video surveillance footage may be deleted, witnesses may not be able to recall all the details, etc. You only have one opportunity to prove your injuries and the sooner you can build a solid case, the better.
Lastly, there can be time-sensitive requirements for certain kinds of cases, and if you fail to comply with the requirements or miss important deadlines, you may miss the opportunity and not be able to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit in the future.
Q. How long does a personal injury lawsuit take to settle?
A. Personal injury lawsuits can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to resolve, with most cases falling somewhere in the middle. Of course, the sooner you hire an attorney, the better. Under Rhode Island state law, you have up to 3 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit with respect to most personal injury claims. Attorneys will not typically wait for the statute of limitations to expire to file suit, but they may not rush the process if you are still receiving medical treatment as they would want to include all cumulative expenses in their “demand letter.” According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 90 to 95 percent of personal injury cases are settled before making it to trial.
It is important for you to update your attorney if you require further medical treatment, surgery, physical or mental therapy, etc. In return, your attorney should always be reliable and accessible. Attorney Ann Sheeley is often recognized by her clients for her commitment to keeping them informed of important developments and responding promptly to their calls, questions and concerns. If you would like to read her client's testimonials, please click here.
Q. What are the chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit?
A. Typically, if you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence and you filed a lawsuit, you are entitled to some sort of compensation. The challenge is building a strong enough case to support your version of events and fighting large insurance companies who will do anything to protect their bottom line. That is why it is important to hire an experienced and skilled personal injury attorney to represent you and your case.
According to the Insurance Research Council, the average person receives a settlement 3.5 times larger with the assistance of a qualified personal injury than without one. When you have medical, household and credit card bills piling up and you are unable to work, this can make a huge difference.
The more evidence your lawyer can present to the insurance company, judge or jury, with regards to your injuries, including the cost to treat your injuries, losses due to an ability to work and pay bills, as well as pain and suffering - the better your chances of winning your lawsuit, which means you receive the highest possible settlement.