Overview of the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation System

Personal Injury Lawyers

In most cases, people injured on the job in Rhode Island are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. With few exceptions, Rhode Island law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Independent contractors are not covered. However, many workers who are actually employees for workers’ comp purposes have been misclassified as independent contractors.

The Rhode Island workers’ compensation lawyers at Marasco & Nesselbush are well-versed in all aspects of workplace injury and occupational illness claims. We know the system and procedures inside and out, and we can help you avoid pitfalls while seeking all the benefits you are entitled to receive.

Our practice is devoted exclusively to accident, injury and disability matters. We have recovered millions of dollars, helping thousands of clients in our community. For dedicated legal advocates after a workplace injury, you can rely on our experienced Rhode Island accident and injury lawyers at Marasco & Nesselbush.

We offer a free review of your case, so contact us for no-cost advice about your legal rights.

What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation is a type of no-fault insurance that covers injured workers. It is governed by the provisions of the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Act. Most employers are required by law to carry this type of insurance. It is intended to pay medical expenses and provide assistance for lost wages, regardless of who was at fault for an on-the-job accident and injuries.

In exchange for these benefits, workers are prohibited from filing lawsuits against their employers for work-related injuries, and they give up the right to recover compensation from their employer for pain and suffering as a result of their injuries. However, these and other forms of compensation may be available in a separate claim against a liable non-employer third party.

The Rhode Island Division of Workers’ Compensation oversees the system, ensuring that employers carry the required insurance and file reports of worker injuries, that claims are paid correctly and that workers’ comp insurance carriers file the proper reports.

The Workers’ Compensation Court, established by the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Act, is made up of nine associate judges and a chief judge and has jurisdiction over civil workers’ compensation matters. Criminal matters are handled in district and superior courts.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Rhode Island

As reported by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, all medical expenses associated with on-the-job injuries suffered by a covered worker must be paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. You will not be required to make any co-payments or meet any deductible.

If your work-related injuries leave you incapacitated and unable to earn a comparable wage for three consecutive days, compensation benefits will begin on the fourth day after your accident or injuries. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you may also be entitled to rehabilitation or loss-of-use or disfigurement benefits. Families of workers who are killed in work-related accidents are entitled to recover survivor benefits.

Weekly benefits under workers’ compensation fall into three categories:

  • Total disability – These benefits apply only to injured workers who are completely disabled and cannot earn wages in any type of work. If you become totally disabled by a work-related injury or illness, your weekly benefits will be calculated at 75 percent of your spendable wages, including bonuses and supplemental earnings. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training provides a Calculation of Compensation Rate guide online.
  • Partial disability – When an employee is not totally disabled but a workplace injury or illness has affected his or her ability to earn full wages, the employee may be eligible for partial disability benefits. The compensation rate for such an employee may be reduced by the Workers’ Compensation Court when the employee has reached what is termed “maximum medical improvement.”
  • Dependency allowance – These are benefits for dependents of totally disabled workers in the amount of $15 a week per dependent. Dependents of workers who have died from workplace injuries may be entitled to receive $40 a week.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Rhode Island

To begin the process of a workers’ compensation claim, you must seek medical treatment and report the accident and injuries to your employer, who is responsible for filing a claim with the workers’ compensation carrier. In the case of occupational illness or repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, you must report the condition to your employer immediately after you become aware that it is work-related.

Your employer is legally required to file with the Division of Workers’ Compensation a First Report of Injury within 10 days of the injury or the employer’s knowledge of it. In the case of a fatal injury, the employer must file a report within 48 hours.

You may choose your own medical provider after an on-the-job injury in Rhode Island. Your provider of choice may refer you to a specialist without prior approval from the insurance company. All medical expenses should be paid in full by the workers’ compensation carrier, with no deductibles or co-pays.

If you have sustained a serious on-the-job injury or developed an occupational illness, get in touch with Marasco & Nesselbush. Our experienced Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys stand ready to protect your rights and help you pursue the benefits you need to move forward with your life. We have one simple goal: to obtain extraordinary results for each and every client.

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