Rhode Island Car Accident FAQs
Car accidents can happen for a lot of different reasons, including another driver’s negligence, distracted driving or drunk driving. People who are injured in a car accident are often unsure about how to proceed. Do you call your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurer? Is it okay to give a recorded statement about the accident? How do you know if the insurance company is treating you fairly and offering you the right amount of compensation? All of these questions can be answered with a free call to Robert E. Craven & Associates. See below for answers to other questions you may have, or visit our main car accident page for more information about the ways Robert E. Craven & Associates can help after a Rhode Island car crash. If you have other questions or need help pursuing a car accident or other personal injury claim, call our office at 401-453-2700 for a free consultation. We won’t charge any fee until after we recover valuable compensation on your behalf.
Who is liable after a drunk driving car crash?
First of all, the drunk driver who hit you is liable for the injuries and damages caused in the crash. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a breach of the duty of care a driver owes to others on the road, and the drunk driver can be held liable for damages that result from a traffic accident caused by the intoxicated driver. The drunk driver’s insurance company will also cover the accident. Even though the person may have intentionally chosen to drink and drive, the person did not intend to cause a car accident, so the event is generally covered under the driver’s liability insurance policy.
In some circumstances, the bar or restaurant that overserved the driver before the accident may also be liable to the car crash injury victims. Rhode Island’s dram shop law makes it illegal to serve or sell alcohol to a minor or a person who already appears to be visibly intoxicated. This law holds the provider of alcohol liable for damages which were proximately caused by the liquor consumption. In order to hold the bar liable, you must be able to prove that the server was negligent or reckless by showing that the server either actually knew the driver was a minor or was visibly intoxicated, or the server should have known these facts based on the circumstances.
What if the server was a social host at a party? Rhode Island law may hold the host liable for damages caused by an intoxicated guest if some special relationship existed between the host and guest. This special relationship exists when the intoxicated guest was underage, but it may not necessarily exist if the guest who later caused a drunk driving car accident was an adult. It’s important to contact an experienced Rhode Island personal injury lawyer to discuss the specific facts in these complicated situations.
Can I still file a claim against the negligent driver who ran into me if I wasn’t wearing my seat belt?
Some states recognize a so-called “seat belt defense” that lets insurance companies present evidence suggesting the injury victim wasn’t wearing a seat belt to lessen the amount of damages they have to pay, even when their insured was the one who caused the accident through negligence or distracted driving. Rhode Island law does not recognize the seat belt defense. In fact, the law clearly states that “In no event shall failure to wear a child restraint system or safety belt be considered as contributory or comparative negligence, nor the failure to wear the child restraint system, seat belt and/or shoulder harness be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action.”
The evidence is clear that seat belts save lives and can help protect you in a car accident, and they should always be worn, even during short trips. However, even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt when you were struck by another vehicle, don’t let that fact keep you from pursuing a negligence claim for your damages from the at-fault driver.
What if the driver who hit me sped away before I could get any information?
Contact the police and give them all the information you can, and contact a personal injury lawyer as well. Law enforcement agencies, as well as private investigators, may be able to track down the driver who hit you so you can hold the driver responsible for the damages they caused in a hit-and-run accident. If the driver cannot be found, you can still pursue a claim under the uninsured motorist coverage provisions of your own liability insurance policy, the same as if you were hit by an uninsured driver.