Dogged: An Overview of Policy and Strict Liability Under Rhode Island’s Dog Laws

Owners of pets, especially pet dogs, are prone to anthropomorphism or attributing human traits to their beloved canine companions. Such outlook should not be objectionable per se as it is the pet owner’s prerogative.

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However, in light of Rhode Island’s dog laws, and the state’s employment of strict liability in reference thereto, it is important to keep in mind the standpoint the law utilizes with respect to dog bite injury liability – that is, pet dogs are “property,” and correspondingly, the government, through federal, state, and local laws, may regulate the ownership or manner of ownership of pet dogs.

To be precise, dog owners do not have absolute dominion over their pets. The state, through laws, rules, ordinances, or regulations, intervenes when the dog owner or dog keeper is found liable, either by act or omission, for the actions of its pets, especially when harm or injury is caused to third persons or their respective properties.

The basis for the said state intervention is this concept called “police power.” Police power is the power granted to local government units to establish and enforce laws protecting the welfare, safety, and health of the public.

As mentioned, Rhode Island employs “strict liability” when it comes to the implementation of its dog laws – this means that once a dog causes injury to third persons or other domestic animals, the owner or keeper of the offending canine is automatically liable therefor. The aggrieved party need only show the amount of damages he or she claims to be entitled to.

It is important to note that “strict liability” is applied only when the errant canine causes injury while outside the property of its owner or keeper. When damage or injury is suffered within the property of the dog owner or keeper, a different set of rules apply.

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Ann S. Sheeley of Sheeley Law LLC has more than 25 years of experience specializing in personal injury, criminal law, and worker’s compensation. She believes that individuals accused of crimes have a right to be represented by top-notch defense lawyers. Learn more about her practice here.

Sealing Of Criminal Records: Expungement Explained

Whenever a citizen commits a crime or a felony, no matter how large or how small, the government keeps a record of what transpired during its occurrence. It also doesn’t matter if the person was acquitted or if the case was dismissed, there will still be a file about the charges. Those records are government property, and they are available to the general public. That means that if someone wants to do a background check, then they can get those files with very little effort.

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To prevent ordinary people from viewing one’s legal files, a person can ask the court for an expungement. This means that the criminal records of a resident will be sealed or destroyed so that no one will be able to see them. Needless to say, there are multiple benefits that this can provide to a person with a record.

During the job application process, there is a section in the form where it asks the applicant if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime. This will put them in a very precarious situation, even if the crime committed was just very minor. They could lie by saying no and violate the law once again, or they could answer truthfully and risk not getting the job. With an expunged record, citizens can answer no with confidence. Furthermore, when a person is applying for a loan, agencies are likely to think that a person who has a record will be unable to pay it off. An expungement will help considerably to acquire a loan with ease.

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Ann S. Sheeley possesses over 25 years of experience as a civil litigation attorney. She has managed hundreds of cases during her career, overseeing them from initial client contact through arbitration and trial proceedings. To seek her help, click here.

Road Safety Reminders For Motorcycle Riders

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Riding a motorcycle is a convenient way to travel. However, it is not always the safest. Riders of all levels should keep in mind that their safety is of utmost importance. Here are road safety reminders for all riders regardless of age and level.

Buy a suitable bike. The rider must feel secure in his or her own ride to ensure safety on the road. Choosing a bike that fits the driver well from the handle to the pedals will provide comfort and ease even during bad weather.

Wear the right gear. Road safety professionals can never stress this enough. From head to toe, riders must ensure that they are suited up for protection. Wearing a full-face helmet, jacket, gloves, and boots will not only shield the driver from pollution or the harmful rays of the sun, but it will also prevent injuries in case of an accident.

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Be defensive. Being alert especially while on the road is a must. Riders must choose a safe place where all potential hazards are in full view. Anticipating the actions of other vehicles will also prevent oversight. Most importantly, observance of road signs and traffic rules will make travelling safer.

In the case of an accident, a rider, his family, or concerned witnesses must report it immediately to authorities. Seeking legal action, especially in the case of injury or damage must be done at the earliest possible time. For a case like this, a personal injury or a motorcycle lawyer will provide proper assistance for the parties involved.

Sheeley Law LLC provides results-oriented representation for victims of motor vehicle accidents and other acts of negligence. Learn more about the firm’s practice areas here.

Workers Compensation Claim Denied: What’s Next?

A trade-off between an employer and employee, worker’s compensation protects the rights of employees who are injured during the course of their employment. The compensation, depending on the nature and complexity of the case, varies, taking the form of wage replacement, medical benefits, or other forms of financial support.

Like a personal injury claim, however, a worker’s compensation claim can be denied. When a claim is denied, it simply means that the employer, or in most cases, the insurance company, believes that a person’s claim is not covered or eligible for compensation according to the law. Among the most common reasons for denial are the late filing of the claim, lack of witnesses, and discrepancy in medical records.


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Once a claimant receives a note stating the illegibility of his or her claim, the first step is to review the grounds for denial and learn the procedure for appeals, specifically the deadline and requirements for filing. And because some denied claims can be due to erroneous paperwork and processes, it is also essential for workers to talk directly to their employer or insurance company prior to filing an official complaint in any court.


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If the appeal is denied, the final step is for the employee to contact a lawyer specializing in worker’s compensation as soon as possible. An attorney will determine the best alternatives and solutions for a denied worker’s compensation claim.

For more articles about worker’s compensation, subscribe to this Ann S. Sheeley

Misdemeanor Crimes in Rhode Island: Facts on Sentences and Fines

A misdemeanor is a lesser offense that is typically punishable by a a fine or penalty, and/or time in a county jail.  It’s less serious than a felony, but more serious than an infraction.

Most states organize misdemeanor violations into four or five classes, but Rhode Island classifies them into two types: Petty misdemeanors and regular misdemeanors.


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A person convicted of a petty misdemeanor in Rhode Island can face up to six months of prison time and/or a fine of up to $500.  Examples of petty misdemeanors include the following:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Possession of alcohol by a minor
  • Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana
  • Sale, possession, and use of substances that release toxic vapors

Regular misdemeanors, on the other hand, are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and incarceration for a period not exceeding one year.  Examples of regular misdemeanors include the following:

  • Obstruction of justice
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism
  • Simple assault and battery
  • Failure to render assistance to an injured person
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana

Apart from jail time and penalties, some misdemeanor convictions could also result in probation, court-mandated community service, or substance abuse classes.


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Those who are facing petty or regular misdemeanor charges should consult as soon as possible a criminal defense lawyer with experience in Rhode Island law.  A qualified criminal defense lawyer can represent defendants in court and provide valuable legal advice at every step of the process.

The legal team at Sheeley Law is dedicated to providing their clients with rigorous criminal defense representation.  For more articles on Rhode Island law, subscribe to this blog.

Filing a Hit and Run Case: What You Need to Know

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Among personal injury cases, hit and run accidents are the most common. Nevertheless, these cases are often difficult to defend because the person at fault usually is unidentified. Furthermore, the accident victim normally has to undergo medical attention and the claims process.

Involvement in a hit and run accident is necessarily followed by key steps. The first step is to immediately report the incident to the police. In many jurisdictions, the victim has a legal responsibility to contact the police if they become involved in an accident that resulted in any form of injury or property damage (to a certain damage). This police report will help initiate the claims process and also strengthen the legal case filed against the defendant.

Personal injury lawyers also require victims to undergo medical attention. Certain injuries are not self-evident, and medical documents that directly link the accident to a specific injury (or injuries) are necessary for any injury claim.

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Lastly, individuals should be aware that hit and run accident claims are usually processed under the victim’s automotive insurance policy. This is mandatory for many states; however, some areas waive deductibles for these types of accidents. Victims should speak with their injury lawyer to determine coverage in their specific state (these can include medical payments or even collision coverage depending on location). If the driver is identified, the claim is processed under that person’s car insurance coverage.

Sheeley Law specializes in cases dealing with personal injury and workers’ compensation. Follow this Twitter account account for more information on the different types of personal injury claims.

Which is which: The difference between survival action and wrongful death

The days where a personal injury claim dies with the victim are long gone. Various states have passed laws that recognize both survival action and wrongful death claims. These two, although tied together in preserving the rights of the deceased, cover different forms of damages.

The major differences between these two are the key elements probed for the validation of the claim, damages covered if each claim has been proven, and the aspect of distribution of the said damages.

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Key elements

In a wrongful death claim, breach of duty and causation are the burden of proof established throughout the case. The basis of damages to be covered by the claim is the act or lack of action of the entity at fault.

In survival action, the inquisition goes beyond the negligence of duty. Survival action takes into consideration the difficulty experienced by the victim between the accident and death.

Damages covered
Designed as reparation to the family or dependents of the victim, a wrongful death claim covers lost wages, medical expenses, and other financial issues that the death has brought to surviving relatives or dependents.

Meanwhile, survival action doesn’t merely focus on the aftermath of the death. It covers the probable damages that the victim would have been able to fight for if he or she had survived. describes this as “the continuation of tort actions that the victim would have been entitled to raise in life.” In Washington, survival action also considers the expenses incurred by the victim while the person was struggling for life at the hospital, regardless of the duration of the stay.

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Distribution of claims
In wrongful death cases, relatives (immediate or distant), and rightful dependents may receive the settlement in behalf of the victim.

However, in survival action claims, the victim’s estate will be the primary premise for distribution of damages. Only the heir or lawful dependent of the victim will be entitled to the damages recovered, as stipulated by the will of the victim.

Can representatives file for both? This depends on the statute governed by State law. Some states allow the filing of both claims and receiving the compensation for both. However, states like Virginia only allow the representative to recover either of the two.

Sheeley Law, LLC provides representation for the families or dependents of victims of wrongful death. To read more related topics on this legal matter, visit this blog.