Providence Workers’ Compensation Lawyers – Marasco & Nesselbush
Have you recently been involved in a work-related accident that left you seriously injured and unable to work? Workplace accidents can have dramatic, long-term consequences for employees and their family members. They can happen to workers of all professions and in all kinds of work environments – in an office, at a construction site, or while operating a vehicle. No matter the circumstances, work-related injuries often require some measure of medical attention and rehabilitation during which the injured employee is not able to return to work. The combination of these circumstances may seriously jeopardize the injured worker’s financial security and become a cause of great distress.
Rhode Island state law protects the rights of workers who have suffered a workplace or work-related accident through a program called workers’ compensation. This is a type of insurance payable by the employer to an injured worker as a form of wage replacement. It may also cover various medical benefits.
Who is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Workers injured at their workplace, or while performing work-related duties outside of their place of work, are eligible to apply for benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault type of insurance, which means you can be eligible for benefits even if the accident in which you were injured was partly your fault. However, if the injury was inflicted intentionally or happened when the worker was intoxicated, this will preclude the worker from collecting benefits.
Common Workplace Injuries
Any injury related to the normal scope and course of work is covered by workers compensation. The covered loss may be the result of a dramatic accident such as a fall; but it can also be an injury related to repeated movements, for example lifting heavy objects over the course of months or years. If a specific illness, like lung or heart disease, is directly related to the nature of the job, it is covered by workers’ compensation too. Even if a worker suffers from a pre-existing condition that becomes aggravated by a work injury or constant stress of the job, the employer will be responsible to pay the benefits.
Common workplace accidents and work-related injuries may include:
- Slip and falls
- Machine crushing or entanglement
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Overexertion injuries
- Falling objects
- Electric shock or electrocutions
- Contact with harmful or toxic substances
How to Proceed If You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured in an accident at your workplace, or if you discovered that an illness or health problem that you have is work-related, you need to seek medical attention and immediately report it to your employer.
It is important to remember that while your employer may suggest a doctor for you to see, you are free to choose a medical provider of your preference. If your first medical provider refers you to a specialist, you don’t need to obtain approval from the employer’s insurer before seeing them. In addition, you should be aware that visits to the ER don’t count as your first choice doctor.
If later on, you would like to switch doctors, you are then required to choose one from the list provided by the insurer. If you want to consult a doctor who is not on that list, you need to obtain the insurer’s approval before seeing them.
If your injury disables you from work for at least 4 days, you are entitled to be compensated for the lost wages. However, the compensation will start on the 4th day – no benefits will be paid out for the first three days. In addition, all of the injury-related medical bills and expenses incurred should be paid in full by the employer’s insurance company. You may also be entitled to benefits for disfigurement or loss of use, as well as to cover rehabilitation.
Pain and suffering are not covered by workers’ compensation. Those types of damages are only payable under negligence claims. Under workers’ compensation law, you cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer for work-related injuries. Nevertheless, you may file a personal injury claim against any other party whose negligence resulted in your injury. If you think there may have been multiple at-fault parties involved in the accident and you are unsure how to proceed, your best option is to consult an experienced attorney.
How Are Benefit Amounts Calculated?
The amount of the weekly benefits paid to you under workers compensation will depend on the extent of your injury and inability to work. There are three main types of payable benefits:
- Total disability benefits: You are eligible to collect these if you can’t earn wages in any type of employment. If this is the case, your weekly benefits will amount to 75% of your spendable base wage.
Spendable base wage, also called spendable earning, is based on your average weekly wage, marital status, and your number of dependents. It can be calculated based on based on tables published each year by the Department of Labor. Calculating your benefits based on your spendable base wage may seem complicated. However, our attorneys will help you make that calculation so that you can know how much money you can expect to collect.
- Partial disability: If your injury precludes you from earning your full wages but you are not fully disabled and you can perform some work while recovering, you will get temporary partial disability benefits. These will be paid until you can earn your normal wages or until you reach maximum medical improvement. The benefits will amount to 75% of the difference between your spendable base wage before the injury and your earning capacity after the injury.
Maximum medical improvement is a state when an injured worker’s condition has stabilized and a medical professional deems that their health cannot be improved any further.
- Dependency allowance: The dependents of an injured worker who is collecting total disability benefits are entitled to an allowance of $15.00 a week per dependant. Dependency allowance is not payable to the dependents of an injured worker who is only collecting temporary partial disability benefits.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
It is always a good idea to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to make sure that your rights are protected. Workers’ compensation law can be complicated and obtaining benefits may at times be an involved process, especially if you have to deal with treatment and rehabilitation at the same time. You may find your employer’s insurance company to be uncooperative. Your lawyer will help you fight for your rights and the benefits you deserve if your employer or their insurer question the validity of your claim. Even if you are already receiving workers’ compensation, the insurer may try to deny some medical treatment that you need and even attempt to reduce or discontinue your benefits. In such circumstances, having a skilled and bold attorney at your side can make all the difference between losing the benefits that you need and keeping them. In addition, your lawyer may also help you identify options for pursuing compensation from a third party whose negligence contributed to your injury or applying for Social Security Disability Benefits.
The attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush in Providence, RI, have successfully helped thousands of clients with their workers’ compensation cases. We offer comprehensive legal assistance on your case and a thorough investigation of your circumstances in order to make sure that your rights and financial security are protected. Contact us today to obtain free legal consultation on your case.