Rhode Island personal injury attorney, David Slepkow answers some important questions concerning personal injury, liability and negligence law in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. This is part 1 of a series of RI Injury law FAQS.
What is personal injury law?
Personal injury law is the area of law dealing with rights, remedies, claims and lawsuits involving negligent, intentional or reckless conduct causing injury to another person. In some limited situations personal injury causes of action could result from “strict liability” in which a person is liable for their conduct causing injury even when there no negligence. Not all personal injury claims result in civil lawsuits in a court of law because many cases are settled by claimants or their personal injury attorneys with insurance and indemnity companies.
In legal parlance, personal injury is known as “tort” law. Nearly all personal injury claims are tort claims but not all tort causes of action constitute injury claims. The reason that tort claims are not all injury claims is because tort law also includes damages caused to real property, personal property, business interests and motor vehicles/ automobiles.
A tort is a civil wrong that does not always result in injury to a person. A tort cause of action is not a government prosecution or a criminal cause of action. Nonetheless, some conduct that is a tort is also criminal wrongdoing that could result in a criminal prosecution. For example an assault could result in criminal charges and could also expose the tortfeasor to damages in civil court for pain and suffering, compensatory damages, medical bills as well as punitive damages.
The vast majority or personal injury claims are premised on the concept of “negligence”. There are 4 elements to prove a negligence claim in most civil courts . These elements are: breach, duty causation and damages.
Here is a non exhaustive list of personal injury claims that are typically filed by injured victims in Rhode Island: dog bites, car , auto and motor vehicle collision, birth negligence, construction accident, defective and dangerous medications and prescriptions, asbestos and Mesothelioma, traumatic brain injury, uninsured and under-insured motorist claims, catastrophic injuries, industrial and workplace accidents, workers compensation, social security disability (SSI / SSDI), nursing home negligence and nursing home abuse, slip and fall, pedestrian accident, food poisoning, hit and run accidents, speeding accident, rear end crash, multi vehicle collision, trip and fall, product liability causes of action, spinal cord injuries, bicycle accident, truck accident (semi-truck,big rig and tractor trailer crash) premises liability claims, wrongful death, fatal accident and toxic torts.
How long do you have to file a car accident, personal injury lawsuit in Rhode Island?
The statute of limitations for the vast majority of personal injury claims in Rhode Island is 3 years from the date of the accident. This means that a lawsuit must be filed within 3 years from the date of the accident otherwise you will be precluded from and compensation as a result of the accident.
What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice or other professional malpractice in Rhode Island?
In the vast majority of medical negligence, dental malpractice and surgical malpractice the injured and aggrieved victim has three years from the date of the negligent act or omission to file a medical malpractice case in Providence Superior Court. The medical malpractice and other malpractice causes of action are governed by Rhode Island General Law “§ 9-1-14.1 Limitation on malpractice actions. – Notwithstanding the provisions of §§ 9-1-13 and 9-1-14, an action for medical, veterinarian, accounting, or insurance or real estate agent or broker malpractice shall be commenced within three (3) years from the time of the occurrence of the incident which gave rise to the action” http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE9/9-1/9-1-14.1.HTM
Is there a way to extend the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Rhode Island?
Pursuant to Rhode Island personal injury law 9-1-14.1:
“(1) One who is under disability by reason of age, mental incompetence, or otherwise, and on whose behalf no action is brought within the period of three (3) years from the time of the occurrence of the incident, shall bring the action within three (3) years from the removal of the disability.
(2) In respect to those injuries or damages due to acts of medical, veterinarian, accounting, or insurance or real estate agent or broker malpractice which could not in the exercise of reasonable diligence be discoverable at the time of the occurrence of the incident which gave rise to the action, suit shall be commenced within three (3) years of the time that the act or acts of the malpractice should, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, have been discovered.” http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE9/9-1/9-1-14.1.HTM
If you were injured in a car, motor vehicle, premises liability, slip and fall or other accident in Rhode Island, contact Rhode Island personal injury lawyer, David Slepkow.
Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.