Rhode Island Workers Compensation Laws In Detail
Accidents don’t wait until it’s convenient for you to strike. They can happen anywhere – in your home, car, or even at work. Upon sustaining an injury or illness due to your job, worker’s compensation insurance, or “worker’s comp”, protects you from lost wages. But how do you know if you qualify for a Rhode Island worker’s comp claim, and how do you ensure that you will receive the most out of your employer’s coverage? That’s what we hope to shed some light on.
Keep reading to discover an overview of Rhode Island worker’s compensation laws explained by a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer.
What is worker’s compensation and how does it work?
What is worker’s compensation? Worker’s compensation is a form of no-fault insurance that protects employees in the event of an injury or illness resulting from their job.
Worker’s compensation can help cover expenses such as:
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Ongoing Care Costs
Individual states decide worker’s compensation policies. Rhode Island has its own set of unique worker’s comp laws designed to protect employees.
Rhode Island worker’s compensation laws
RI is one of 49 states that require employers to carry worker’s compensation insurance for their employees. This applies to employers with one or more employees. However, limited exceptions exist for Rhode Island’s worker’s compensation law.
Independent contractors are not employees. Therefore, they are exempt from worker’s compensation policies. For example, employers aren’t required to carry worker’s comp for certain real estate brokers and salespeople, or certain farmhands.
But in general, most Rhode Island employers must provide worker’s comp insurance to their employees.
What happens if you sustain an injury on the job?
If you find yourself injured or become ill as a result of your job, the first step is to report it to your employer.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, employees should report their work injury to their employer immediately after it occurs. If it’s not immediately apparent that an injury or illness occurred due to a job, employees should report when they realize the cause was job-related.
Under Rhode Island law, employees have 30 days after the work injury or incident occurs to report the injury to their employer. Also, worker’s compensation claims have a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident or injury.
What kind of injuries does RI worker’s compensation cover? Worker’s compensation examples
In general, worker’s compensation covers any injury or illness that arises as a result of your job, including but not limited to:
- Injuries caused by an individual incident, such as a slip and fall or construction accident.
- Injuries that occur due to repetitive or stressful movements, such as back injuries from heavy lifting.
- Illnesses that occur as a result of working conditions, such as exposure to hazardous chemicals or allergens
- Pre-existing conditions worsened from stress or injuries that occur during employment.
- “Flow-from conditions. “Flow-from” is a term used to describe injuries or medical conditions originating from a work-related injury. For example, say an employee suffered an injury to their left hand at work, which caused them to overwork and injure their right hand. The injury to their right hand “flowed from” the original work-related injury to the left hand and therefore is eligible for coverage under worker’s compensation.
You may notice that most of these refer to physical injuries or illnesses. But what about mental illnesses caused by work-related trauma? Under Rhode Island worker’s compensation laws, mental injuries sustained by physical trauma or emotional stress are considered compensable. Therefore, Rhode Island worker’s comp benefits covers mental illnesses or trauma caused by work-related experiences
Can I return to work afterward?
With certain limitations, injured workers have the right to return to their jobs. But what happens if your injuries prevent you from returning to work?
Under Rhode Island law, disabled workers can receive partial or total disability benefits under worker’s compensation. It’s also possible to obtain vocational rehabilitation or retraining to find another line of work at the insurance company’s expense.
Do I qualify for worker’s compensation in Rhode Island?
In general, worker’s compensation provides benefits regardless of who, if anyone, was at fault for the injury. Under Rhode Island law, employees are eligible for job-related illnesses or injuries under their employer’s worker’s compensation policies, even if:
- The employee was negligent
- The negligence of another employee caused the injury
- The employee assumed the risk of the injury.
There are exceptions to this policy, such as if the injured employee was drinking when the injury occurred or if the employee intentionally hurt themselves.
How to get the most out of your RI worker’s comp claim
Unfortunately, even though you’re legally entitled to worker’s compensation doesn’t mean that the insurance company will honor the full extent of your policy.
It’s an insurance company’s job to minimize its own liability as much as possible. They will try to offer you a lowball settlement offer or attempt to claim that your injury isn’t work-related. It can be tempting to settle when you’re stressed out and worn down from your injuries.
It’s important to know your claim’s value and stand up for your rights. That’s why it can be valuable to have the best worker’s comp lawyer in Rhode Island on your side.
A lawyer can help you:
- Calculate the full value of your claim.
- Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.
- Advise you on what to say and help you avoid making statements that could hurt your case.
- Handle paperwork and forms for you, allowing you to focus on recovery.
And most importantly, a lawyer can help you from going through the process alone and look out for your best interest during a stressful time in your life.
Who’s the best worker’s comp lawyer in Rhode Island?
If you’re struggling with worker’s comp in Rhode Island, Petrarca Law is here to help. As experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorneys, we have plenty of experience going up to bat against insurance companies. We don’t back down in the face of adversity, and we fight aggressively to help our clients get the benefits they deserve.
Contact our office today for a free consultation.