Auto accidents are a common occurrence in Rhode Island, which makes familiarity with Rhode Island car accident compensation laws an unfortunate necessity for many drivers. This article discusses what you need to know about Rhode Island car accidents, including what to do after an accident and how to get appropriate compensation for your injuries and losses.
What Should You Do After an Accident?
Here is a list of what you should do if you are in an accident:
- Don't leave the scene; leaving the scene of the accident, even if it's minor, could be considered an illegal hit-and-run
- Get to safety out of traffic and check everyone for injuries (and consider providing first aid to any car accident victims)
- Call the Rhode Island highway patrol or the police department for help and medical assistance; you will want to make sure you get a copy of the police report or accident report
- Collect contact information and driver's insurance information from the people who were driving any vehicles involved in the accident
- Take pictures of the scene and get the contact information of any witnesses; also, check with nearby businesses or homeowners for a copy of their security camera footage, if applicable
- Call your insurance adjuster and notify them of a possible car accident claim
- Get checked out by a doctor
You can and should consider doing all of this before you think about bringing a personal injury lawsuit.
Rhode Island Car Accident Compensation Laws: At a Glance
Below is a table outlining important aspects of Rhode Island's car accident compensation laws, including limits on damages and the statute of limitations.
|Statute of Limitations
Three years for personal injury claims (Tit. 9 § 9-1-14); ten years for damage to property (Tit. 9 § 9-1-13); three years for claims against the state and local government (Tit. 9 § 9-1-25)
|Limits on Damages
||No caps on most personal injury claims; $100,000 cap on claims against the state (Tit. 9 § 9-31-2) and local governments (Tit. 9 § 9-31-3); however, the cap doesn't apply if the state (like the city, town, or fire district) was engaged in a proprietary function in the commission of the tort, or where the state has agreed to indemnify the federal government or any agency thereof for any tort liability
|| Pure comparative negligence rule may reduce damages (Tit. 9 § 9-20-4)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Types of Damages in Rhode Island
There are typically two types of damages to consider in a car accident: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the more tangible, monetary losses you've incurred as a result of your injury or damage to property. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are the more abstract costs of an accident, like emotional distress and the loss of spousal companionship.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Car repairs or replacement
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Loss of affection or companionship
Rhode Island's "Pure Comparative Fault" Rules
Like many states, Rhode Island is an "at fault" (often called "tort") system for insurance claims. This means that to recover damages, you must show fault on the part of the other driver. However, Rhode Island also follows the "pure comparative fault" rule, which allows you to recover damages even if you were 99% to blame for causing the accident. Under this rule, any damages that are awarded will be reduced in proportion to the degree that you were at fault. For example, if you were 90% to blame and the other driver was 10% at fault, you may still file a lawsuit, but an award of $100,000 will be reduced by $90,000.
Limits on Damages in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, there are no caps on most types of damages, although most claims against state and local governments are limited to $100,000. However, the cap doesn't apply if the state (like the city, town, or fire district) was engaged in a proprietary function in the commission of the tort, or where the state has agreed to indemnify the federal government or any agency thereof for any tort liability.
Additionally, claims are time-sensitive. The deadline (known as the "statute of limitations") for personal injury and claims against the government is three years, while suits for property damage must be filed within ten years.
Learn More About Rhode Island Car Accident Compensation Laws: Speak to an Attorney
Rhode Island's negligence and damages rules may be more straightforward than other states, but the comparative fault standard affects both your liability and your ability to recover damages after an accident. Speak with an experienced car accident attorney who's familiar with Rhode Island's car accident compensation laws to evaluate the strength of your claim.