Workers are the backbone of our economy and the backbone of the American middle class. In Rhode Island, workers have many legal protections and employee rights if they are injured on the job. It doesn’t matter how or why the worker was injured as Rhode Island’s Workers’ Compensation system is a no fault system. The worker need not show that the employer failed to maintain a safe work environment. Rather, the worker need only prove that his or her injury occurred in the course of employment. Essentially, if the worker was injured at work, he or she can receive benefits that cover a percentage of lost wages, in addition to the full cost of medical treatment and some other associated payments in the event of disfigurement and/or loss of function (of a body part).
The no fault Workers’ Compensation system avoids the necessity of proving many elements of a typical lawsuit. Rather, Rhode Island’s Workers’ Compensation system is a wage replacement system, designed to compensate injured workers for their lost wages and other losses, in a quick and efficient manner with as little disruption to their income stream and lifestyle as possible.
In exchange for a relatively quick and efficient system, the worker gives up the right to file a lawsuit against the employer and is not paid compensation for pain and suffering.
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled; the process of filing for Workers’ Compensation benefits can be difficult and complicated. There are real risks: employers will often argue that your problems were pre-existing, that you were not injured at work, or that you are exaggerating the degree of injury or disability. This complicates the claim and can slow down your receipt of replacement income until there is a resolution of these issues.
Anyone who is seriously injured at work should get help from a trusted Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Marasco & Nesselbush. Our experienced lawyers can help you avoid the pitfalls, and we can ensure that you receive all possible benefits you are due under the law and under Rhode Island’s Workers’ Compensation system.
Hurt on the job? We always offer a free review of your case. Contact us now for advice about your employee rights.
Who Can Petition for Workers’ Compensation in Rhode Island?
Essentially, if you were injured while performing your duties at work—including transportation accidents if driving is a part of your job – you likely have the right to workers’ compensation benefits. Most workers in Rhode Island are covered by the workers’ compensation system, although there are few exceptions.
Employers who have one or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Those who are sole proprietors, partners or involved in specific real estate, agricultural or some domestic services are not required to have coverage. Employees of police departments, firefighters and federal employees may be covered by different programs.
If you are an independent contractor, you are not covered. However, many “employees” are often misclassified as “independent contractors.” If it is determined that you were wrongly classified as an independent contractor, you may be able to get benefits. The Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush can help you determine if you are truly an “independent contractor,” or if you are legally an “employee.”
Fault is generally not a factor in workers’ compensation claims. In other words, you are usually entitled to benefits even if your employer didn’t do anything wrong – and even if you made a mistake that contributed to your accident. There may be narrow exceptions, such as if you intentionally harmed yourself or were impaired by drugs or alcohol. Some employers and insurance companies may falsely argue that such an exception applied in an attempt to get out of paying a claim.
Common Types of Workplace Accidents and Injuries
The kinds of accidents that happen in workplaces are virtually limitless. Examples include: slip and falls, sprains and strains, amputation of digits or limbs, allergic reactions and repetitive motion ailments. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that some types of fatal workplace accidents are more common than others. For example, the agency reports that there were 3,929 worker deaths in one recent year, and 20.3 percent of them were in construction. The most common incidents leading to death are called the “fatal four,” and include
The most common safety violations by employers include fall protection violations, hazard communication standards in general industry, scaffolding violations, violations related to ladders, electrical wiring methods, machinery and protective machine guards that do not work properly and faulty design of electrical systems.
There are many other types of accidents and injuries, all of which can occur in any place of work. Examples include toxic exposure, trips and falls, overexertion injuries and repetitive motion injuries, among others.
Any workplace may have hazards – even one that seems “safe” like an office or a retail outlet.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that sprains and strains are the most common workplace injuries. Other common injuries include bruises, contusions, cuts, lacerations, amputations, fractures, heat burns, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, chemical burns, multiple traumatic injuries and others.
The most common types of incidents that resulted in days away from work were related to overexertion, sprains and strains and allergic reactions. Laborers and nursing assistants were reportedly the most common professions for these injuries.
Types of Benefits Available under Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation benefits are based on the type and degree of the injuries suffered by the employee. If you are incapacitated for at least three consecutive days, and cannot earn your wages or get employment that pays you comparable wages, disability benefits can start on the fourth day from the date of the injury.
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training states that you may also be entitled to medical treatment or payment for disfigurement or “loss of use” of a limb or body part, and participation in rehabilitation treatments. Dependents of workers who died as a result of a workplace injury may be eligible to receive death benefits through the system.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation and/or Appeal a Claim in Rhode Island
To file a claim, a worker must report the injury or illness to the employer, who is then required to file a claim with the company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The worker should seek medical attention and inform the doctor or other medical professional that your injury or illness is work-related so it is noted in the medical file.
Your employer is required under state law to file a “First Report of Injury” form within strict time limits. The employer has only 10 days to file the report from the time of the injury or from when it found out about it. In cases in which the injuries were fatal, the employer must file within 48 hours.
You might assume that your employer will file the correct paperwork, but this doesn’t always happen. Anyone who has suffered a serious workplace injury should get help from an attorney who can manage all of the details so that no filing deadline is passed, and all information submitted to the insurance company meets the requirements, allowing benefits to be paid promptly.
Appealing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Appealing a claim has time limits as well. You have only 5 days from the date a pretrial decision is rendered. You will then receive a Notice of Hearing which gives you the details about the date, time and location for the hearing on your appeal.
You need to be fully prepared for this hearing. A substantial amount of documentation about your illness or injury must be submitted. You are fully responsible for submitting all of the data at this hearing, and any failure to do so could lead to a negative outcome. A lawyer can help you avoid mistakes that could limit your benefits.
Get Workers’ Compensation Help from a Lawyer
Every injury or illness claim that is related to work is unique in its circumstances. We must know who was involved, the degree of injury and the length of time that a person will be unable to work.
If Someone Other than Your Employer is at Fault for your Injury, You May Receive More Compensation; this is called a Third Party Claim.
In some cases, a third party (someone other than your employer) may be at fault for your injury. Examples include maintenance companies that fail to maintain a manufacturing plant; equipment failure, a vehicle accident, an explosion or chemical exposure. If someone or some company other than your employer was involved in your injury, your lawyer can help you pursue a legal action against that “third party” to recover compensation far beyond what you are due under the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation system.
You owe it to yourself (and to your family) to have your case reviewed by the trusted Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush. We can guide you through the entire process, including filing claims, assisting with appeals of a denied claim and pursuing any potential third-party claims.
We offer world class client service while delivering extraordinary legal results!
Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our goal is to help you recover the maximum possible through every available source.
Don’t endanger your Workers’ Compensation case; call Marasco & Nesselbush today for a free consultation.
- Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Basic Information for Injured Workers
- OSHA: Commonly Used Statistics
- BLS: Sprains and strains most common workplace injury
- BLS: Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2013
- Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Injured Worker Information