If you were denied workers’ compensation benefits by your employer in Rhode Island, that doesn’t have to be the final answer. You can appeal a workers’ compensation decision.
To learn how the process works, and how an attorney from our firm can help you, call Gemma Law Associates, Inc. or contact us online. Our consultations are free and confidential. We can advise you based on our extensive experience of handling workers’ compensation appeals and helping workers and their families to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.
The Process for Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Appeals
If a dispute arises between you and your employer concerning workers’ compensation benefits, then you can file a petition with the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court, which has jurisdiction over these types of cases.
Your case will go through the following stages:
1. Pretrial conference – Within 21 days after the petition is filed, a pretrial conference will be held with the goal of settling the dispute. If no settlement can be reached, the court will enter a binding pretrial order. This order takes effect as soon as it is entered.
2. Initial hearing – If either you or your employer is not satisfied with the pretrial order, you can appeal the court’s order and request a trial. The claim for trial must be filed within five days of the pretrial order being entered. This will place the case on the calendar for an initial hearing.
At the initial hearing, the court will get the parties to focus on the issues that are in dispute. For instance, the parties may agree on what the employee’s average weekly wages are. So, they can stipulate to that figure. On the other hand, they may disagree on whether the employee is entitled to temporary or permanent disability benefits. That dispute will be the subject of the trial.
The court will also take care of matters such as marking exhibits, establishing a witness list and scheduling the trial date (or dates).
3. Trial – This is a full hearing, with presentation of evidence and witness testimony. Once each side has presented its evidence, testimony and arguments, the court must make findings of fact and file a decree, or decision.
4. Intermediate Appeal – Either side may appeal the court’s decision. First, an appeal can be made to the intermediate Appellate Division of the Workers’ Compensation Court. A panel of judges will be appointed to review the dispute. The panel will examine the trial record and focus mainly on the legal issues. (The panel won’t make new findings of fact unless the trial court judge clearly erred in its findings.) The panel ultimately will issue a decision that affirms, reverses or modifies the trial court judge’s decree.
5. Final Appeal – Finally, if either the employee or employer wishes to appeal the panel’s decision, they can file what is called a “Writ of Certiorari” with the Rhode Island Supreme Court. This is a way of asking the court to review the panel’s decision to determine whether any mistakes were made that had a negative impact on your case.
The majority of workers’ compensation disputes in Rhode Island are resolved efficiently, including being settled at the pretrial conference. However, as you can see, an appeal can take a significant amount of time to resolve.
At Gemma Law Associates, Inc., we will make sure that you have a full understanding of the issues involved in your case and the time commitment that may be involved. We also will make sure you are fully informed and updated at each stage of your case.
We are Experienced Workers’ Compensation Appeals Attorneys
The Rhode Island worker injury lawyers of Gemma Law Associates, Inc., understand what’s at stake in a Rhode Island workers’ compensation appeal. We know that you and your family will need benefits to survive. That’s why we will work efficiently and effectively to meet your goals in as timely of a manner as possible. Although we can begin our assistance at any point in the appeals process, it would be much more beneficial to have a lawyer at your side from the beginning.
To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer about your workers’ compensation case, call us today or complete our online form. We’re ready to help you right away.