WE ARE ATTORNEYS AND WE ARE RIDERS
WE REPRESENT RHODE ISLAND CYCLISTS
HAD A BICYCLE CRASH IN RHODE ISLAND?
Contact Ben Dodge to see if the bicycle crash lawyers at Bike Accident Attorneys (BAA) can help. Unlike other lawyers who attempt to represent cyclists, our BAA lawyers actually ride and race their bicycles as well as appear and win in court. Most attorneys are just pencil pushers. We are court room litigators who are passionate about riding our bikes and we have associated local counsel in other states to allow us to help you in your state. Based on our expertise and experience we have also been admitted in other states to appear in court for our bicycle crash clients on a case by case basis. We can help you directly or ensure that you get the quality help you need in your state. Contact Ben Dodge now to see how we can protect your rights.
3 Tips on Choosing the Best Bicycle Crash Lawyer and Avoid Being Scammed
So how do you know if you have the best lawyer? There are 3 things to investigate when hiring a bicycle lawyer that can help you avoid a scammer. Some of that depends on what you think the “best” really means. To me, it is simple. The “best” lawyer will get you to the most advantageous position possible with as little cost as possible. That’s it. Nothing else to it. I have seen too many lawyers give up or miss out on incredible opportunities for their clients because of their own egos arguing the irrelevant issues or pushing too hard in a direction that only generates their own fees as opposed to the results the client would rather have.
The most advantageous position is sometimes not even what the client comes in asking for. I can’t tell you how many times I probably talked myself out of a job in an initial consult because what the client wanted actually puts them in a worse position and I wasn’t afraid to tell them so. It would have been so much easier to just tell them what they desperately wanted to hear, help them feel heard and let them vent a little. All just tell them we better hurry up and rush to court so they can be vindicated. When in reality, that won’t help them at all. So that is what many lawyers do- they try to figure out what the client wants emotionally and then sell them a legal service that matches that emotional need and of course charge them for it based on whatever they think the client is able to pay.
Obviously not all attorneys are this cold-hearted. Many of us actually care. Many of us strive to do right by the client as opposed to just trying to do right by the pocket book.
Here are some general things to watch out for when looking for an attorney, especially a bicycle accident lawyer (I don’t like the word accident, I prefer “crash” – but most of the world uses the term accident and I understand why, so I sue it too). Here are the issues to watch out for:
1) Specific Knowledge
Do they have the specific knowledge required to handle your case? Just because they graduated from law school doesn’t mean they know anything about cycling! In fact, in my opinion, most of the country doesn’t know anything about cycling. It is crazy that all sorts of professionals from police offices charged with enforcing cycling safety to insurance adjusters responsible for finding fault don’t know anything about cycling laws. This is especially true with local rules, ordinances, and even more so with knowledge of local customs and implied expectations of cycling culture and more. Now fast forward to the moment when you are looking for an attorney to help you with your crash (your bicycle accident case) and you see a billboard on the side of the freeway, or a TV commercial, or even a Google search where the words cycling lawyer were used… How much specific knowledge of bicycle cases do you think they really have? Ask them how often they ride? Ask them what their favorite route is? Ask them if they could buy any bike on the planet what would it be and why? These questions will help you quickly identify if they are even remotely plugged into the cycling community and whether or not they have specific knowledge relating to cycling. Why is this important? SIMPLE- as a cyclist you already know that most people (drivers) hate that we are out on the roads. You already have an uphill court battle of public opinion. Being right on some traffic issue isn’t enough for us. Your lawyer must know this intimately in order to successfully navigate the complex negotiations of your case with the insurance company and opposing attorneys and then ultimately in a court room where you can bet no one on the jury will be a cyclist.
Also on the topic of specific knowledge. How many cases like this issue have they handled? What were the outcomes? How confident do you feel with their answers to these questions? Specific case knowledge is helpful. Do they have experience with the opposing insurance company? With that specific police department? With your judge? And on and on.
Specific knowledge is very helpful and you can’t buy it with expensive marketing on billboards, commercials, etc. It is earned with blood, sweat, and sometimes tears through years of experience.
2) Desk or Courtroom
The next thing to investigate is whether or not the attorney you’re thinking about hiring is a desk lawyer (I fondly refer to these lawyers as pencil pushers) or a courtroom lawyer. There is a need for all sorts of lawyers. But unless you are planning on having your bicycle accident attorney draft a will or some contract for you, then you want a courtroom lawyer not a pencil pusher.
I know this is a guess, but in my experience it seems like 95% of lawyers, especially the ones who end up on billboards and commercials, are just pencil pushers. Once their cases get to tough they refer them out to a real lawyer to finish the courtroom stuff for them. Most attorneys talk a big talk in their consult with potential clients about how good they are, but when push comes to shove and they have to actually prove it to you in a courtroom with you watching, their peers (opposing lawyers on the other side of your case) and in front of a judge and jury- they simply freak out and completely drop the ball or settle for less than you should ever take just to avoid the scary courtroom.
Don’t mistakenly hire a pencil pusher. Hire a bicycle accident lawyer who thrives in the courtroom. One simple question to help catch them off guard is ask them when is the last time they were in court? What was it about? What kind of hearing was it? What was the argument they proposed and made to the judge? How did it turn out? These simple questions will help you find out if they are pencil pushers or not. Their hesitation or odd answers are a dead give away that they are likely misleading you on their courtroom abilities and experience.
We are courtroom lawyers, sometimes even going multiple times per week to court. We file lawsuits, we don’t just write a few meaningless settlement letters and sell our clients on how good the settlement is- we prove it to our clients.
3) Do You Recognize Them from a Billboard or Commercial?
Yes I said that right, do you actually recognize them from a billboard or a TV commercial? Why is this even a thing? Well, it sounds harsh but those lawyers out there spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year (for some they spend that per month) just to recruit new clients may be struggling to get their current and past clients to even refer to them… Yep, what if your lawyer was so good and you were so impressed that you happily sent business to him/or her? See how powerful that is? I’m not saying that everyone who advertises in our line of work is a horrible lawyer. What I am saying is that it is a bit suspect since advertising is NOT cheap and it begs the question as to why they have to advertise in the first place? Is their reputation with their own clients so bad that they have to find an alternative source to finding clients? Possibly. I’m one of those guys who avoids, in fact runs away from any professional I see on a billboard. I’d much rather consult a trusted friend and get their opinion as to whom I should see or NOT see based on their experience.
Not all lawyers who advertise are bad. But like I said, I personally run away from any professional on a billboard or TV commercial. A good old fashioned referral has always proved to be much better much more often. Just sayin’.
These are just 3 of the many things to look out for when you hire a bicycle accident lawyer. Call my office up and we can chat over the phone sometime about all the other million things to look out for like attorney billable hour quotas, bonus structures, professional reputation among peers, and so much more!
We are here for you. We got your back. We protect our own like you’re a member of our tribe. Good luck. Be safe out there and keep the rubber side down.
Contact Ben Dodge and let the lawyers in the Bike Accident Attorneys National Network help you. We will assist you in your case and/or find someone for you in your state that we can trust and recommend. We have your back. We are here for you.
(Rhode Island State Flag)
RHODE ISLAND BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities
Pedalcyclist Fatalities per Million Population
RHODE ISLAND BICYCLE STATUTES
No Parking in a Bike Lane
No person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or traffic control device, in any of the following places:
(16) On any bicycle lane, trail or path.
(c) Violations of this section are subject to fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4. [which says first offenses can be dismissed but you still have to pay $60. We’d like more clarity if you want to look into it and let us know.]
Safe Passing Laws
Rhode Island requires that the driver of a motor vehicle must pass a bicyclist by driving to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance, that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic, and returning to the lane of travel once the motor vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. However, a driver of a motor vehicle need not follow that requirement when:
- Driving in a lane that is separate from and adjacent to a designated bicycle lane;
- Driving at a speed not greater than fifteen miles per hour; or
- When the driver is passing a bicyclist’s right side and the person operating the bicycle is turning left.
The driver of a motor vehicle may drive to the left of the center of a roadway to pass a person operating a bicycle proceeding in the same direction only if the roadway to the left of the center is unobstructed for a sufficient distance to permit the driver to pass the person operating the bicycle safely and avoid interference with oncoming traffic.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §31-15-18
Rhode Island requires that any person under the age of 15 riding a bicycle, as an operator or passenger, must wear a protective bicycle helmet.
However, in no event shall failure to wear a helmet be considered as contributory or comparative negligence, nor shall the failure to wear a helmet be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §31-19-2.1
Share the Road license plates
Rhode Island does not offer Share the Road license plates at this time.
Vulnerable Road User Laws
Rhode Island does not have any vulnerable road user laws at this time. There are currently no national standards for laws protecting vulnerable road users, but the League of American Bicyclists has drafted a Model Vulnerable Road User statute, which you can find here.
Distracted Driving Laws
Rhode Island currently has the following laws aimed at distracted driving, subject to limited exceptions:
- No person shall use a wireless handset to compose, read or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle on any public street or public highway within the state of Rhode Island;
- The use of a cell phone by a minor while said minor, any person less than 18 years of age, is operating a motor vehicle shall be prohibited, except in the case of an emergency;
- The use of a cell phone by a school bus driver shall be prohibited, while the bus is transporting children except in the case of an emergency; and
- A person shall not drive a bicycle or motor vehicle upon any highway while wearing earphones or a headset.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §§31-22-30; 31-22-11.8; 31-22-11.9; 31-23-51
Where to Ride
Rhode Island requires that every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction except where official traffic control devices (signs or pavement markings) specifically direct bicyclists to do otherwise.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §31-19-6
Rhode Island provides that a person may ride any vehicle operated by human power upon and along a sidewalk or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, unless prohibited by official traffic-control devices (signs). When riding on a sidewalk a person has all the rights and all the duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §§31-19-11; 31-19-12
Mandatory Use of Separated Facilities
Rhode Island does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane.
Bicycling Under the Influence
In Rhode Island, bicycles are defined as vehicles. Rhode Island’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to all vehicles and therefore applies to bicyclists. Bicycles should not be operated while intoxicated and operating a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances may result in severe punishments.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §§31-1-3; 31-27-2
“Idaho Stop” and Vehicle Detection Errors
Rhode Island does not provide any modifications to the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Authorization for Local Regulation of bicycles
Rhode Island provides that its state traffic laws shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power, from regulating the operation of bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of bicycles, including the requirement of a registration fee.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §31-12-12
Rhode Island requires that no person open the door of a motor vehicle on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, available to moving traffic, unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders, or bicycle lanes. In addition, no person shall leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic, including pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders or bicycle lanes, for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §31-21-14
Treatment as a Vehicle
In Rhode Island bicycles are vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles and a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle under Chapters 12 through 27 of Title 31 of the Rhode Island Statutes, except for special regulations specific to bicycles and those provisions that by their nature can have no application.
Source: R.I. Gen. Laws §§31-1-3(ee); 31-19-3
Source of Laws
The laws regulating the operation of bicycles in the state of Rhode Island are generally found in Title 31 of the Rhode Island General Statutes (R.I. Gen. Laws), available here: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/.
The following resources may be useful:
- Direct link to Chapter 31-19 of the Rhode Island General Statutes: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE31/31-19/INDEX.HTM
- Rhode Island Department of Transportation Bike Information, including Bike Lane Laws: http://www.dot.ri.gov/community/bikeri/index.php
LATEST FROM THE BLOG
Bike Accident Attorneys is a fantastic law firm dedicated to cyclists! Ben Dodge will go above and beyond to make sure everything you need is taken care of. He is one of the kindest and most honest people I've ever had the honor of knowing. In addition he is a cyclist just like us and knows our mindset and needs. I highly recommend contacting Ben before you do anything else if you are in the unfortunate circumstance of needing help if something happens to you on a ride.Charles B.
Unfortunately 1 year ago I was in a very bad bicycle accident and also took out some of my fellow riders. Fortunately though Ben from Bike Accident Attorneys was on that same bike ride and what a blessing that was for me and those that were also involved. Him and his staff were amazing and so helpful with everything. He was a tremendous help and the greatest thing was not only was I represented professionally, but I gained a close friend and riding teammate. Thank you Ben and to your wonderful staff!Kristi R.
I was referred to Ben and his firm when I was hit by a car. Before I hired him as my attorney, Ben spent an enormous amount of time with me both answering my questions, as well as making sure I was comfortable with the process, timelines, and possible outcomes. Throughout the case I was given timely status reports and updates on the discussions from both sides. Not only was the service provided top notch, but Ben himself is a pleasure to work with. If this is ever something you find yourself in need of, there is no better place to go than BAA.Brian S.