A Step-by-Step Guide for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Rhode Island
Updated: Nov 20
If you were injured in an accident - whether it was a car, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian or slip and fall - and you believe it to be another person’s fault (in legal terms, that is called “negligence”), you have the right to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Navigating the legal process can be overwhelming; where do you begin?
To make the process a little easier for you, Sheeley Law has created a step-by-step guide for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Rhode Island. As always, Attorney Ann Sheeley is available 24/7 for a free consultation to answer your specific questions.
STEP 1) SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
Your health is THE top priority. Therefore, the first and most crucial step after sustaining an injury is to seek medical attention. Even if you believe your injuries to be minor, you should consult a medical professional as injuries can worsen over time. Not only is this first step essential for your well-being, but it also establishes a record of your injuries, which will be critical in your personal injury case.
STEP 2) CONSULT WITH AN EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
After you tend to your injuries and BEFORE you do anything else, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney that is licensed in Rhode Island. A reputable personal injury law firm, like Sheeley Law, will offer you a no-cost and no-obligation initial consultation. During this initial meeting, the attorney will assess the details of your case, including the circumstances of the accident, extent of your injuries, and potential liability. A forthright attorney will also advise you on the validity of your claim. In other words, they will only guide you forward if they believe you have a case.
STEP 3) INVESTIGATION AND EVIDENCE GATHERING
If you decide to proceed with the lawsuit, your attorney will launch an investigation to gather evidence to support your case. This may involve obtaining accident reports, medical records, witness statements, photographs, and any other relevant documents that can help establish fault and negligence.
STEP 4) DEMAND LETTERS
Once the evidence is collected, your attorney will send a demand letter to the at-fault party's insurance company, detailing your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages, along with a demand for compensation. In addition, a skilled attorney like Ann Sheeley will examine your own insurance coverage and, if possible, pursue an underinsured claim for additional compensation.
STEP 5) FILING THE COMPLAINT
The next step includes your attorney filing a formal complaint against the responsible party, known as the defendant. Your attorney will draft the complaint, outlining the details of the incident, the injuries sustained, and the damages you are seeking. Once the complaint is filed in the appropriate Rhode Island court, the legal process has been initiated.
STEP 6) NEGOTIATIONS / PRE-TRIAL
Insurance companies will often look to sidestep your attorney by reaching out to you directly with a low-ball settlement offer. It is critical that you never accept the first offer from an insurance company. Instead, forward their information to your attorney, so they may negotiate on your behalf. Unfortunately, insurance companies are known to take advantage of vulnerable people by settling claims quickly and for the lowest possible amount. Once you accept a settlement offer, 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.
Before proceeding to trial, both parties may engage in mediation or informal discussions to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. An accident settlement is an out-of-court agreement between you, the at-fault driver, and the insurance companies for the damages, which include your medical bills, any lost wages or loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering you experience as the result of the car accident. If a settlement is reached, the case will conclude without going to trial. However, if your attorney believes you are entitled to more compensation than the insurance company is willing to offer, your case will proceed to trial.
POSSIBLE STEP 7) TRIAL PROCESS
Not all personal injury lawsuits proceed to trial. In fact, many can be settled out of court. However, if your attorney believes the only way to get you a fair settlement is to go to trial, both sides will present their evidence and arguments to a judge and jury. Your attorney should work hard for you to prove the defendant's negligence and the extent of your injuries, including pain and suffering. An experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorney, like Ann Sheeley, as many strategies to help secure the highest settlement possible.
After both sides have presented their case, the judge or jury will deliberate and render a verdict. If they find the defendant liable for your injuries, they will determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. For more information about what your personal injury case could be worth, click here.
Navigating a personal injury lawsuit in Rhode Island can be a complex and challenging process. It is important to work with an experienced attorney who can guide you each step of the way and fight hard for you. Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney Ann Sheeley has represented hundreds of victims in her more than 25 years of experience and provides aggressive, results-driven representation for accident victims. For a free consultation, contact us at 401-619-5555 or email@example.com.