Free Legal Consultation
Employers are required to provide a reasonably safe workplace for their employees. Even so, thousands of workers are injured in job-related accidents every year. Employees who are injured as a result of a workplace accident are covered under a state-mandated insurance program known as workers’ compensation. Because it may be difficult to determine the complete circumstances surrounding a workplace injury, it is crucial to have your case evaluated by an attorney.
The Rhode Island workers’ compensation lawyers of Gemma Law Associates, Inc., have the experience to ensure that you receive all of the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to receive. If you have been hurt in a job-related accident that resulted in injuries, contact us today to learn how we can help you. We assist clients across Rhode Island, including in Providence, Bristol, Warwick, Cranston, Newport, Pawtucket and Woonsocket.
Call us today at our toll-free number or fill out our online form. At Gemma Law Associates, Inc., every case begins with a free legal consultation.
Rhode Island Workplace Injuries and Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is an insurance system. It provides money for medical expenses and lost wages to employees who are injured or contract an occupational illness while doing their job. Employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance to cover these benefits.
Every state has its own version of this program. Since 1999, Rhode Island employers have been required to carry workers’ compensation insurance regardless of the number of people they employ. Typical benefits under the workers’ compensation laws of Rhode Island include compensation for medical care, lost wages, disability payments and death benefits.
Workers’ compensation covers injuries that arise out of and in the scope and course of employment. This includes workplace injuries caused by accidents and constant or repetitive work stresses. Occupational illnesses may also be covered.
Common Rhode Island Workplace Injuries
The Rhode Island Division of Workers’ Compensation says that in 2010 there were 19,919 workplace injuries in the state for which a workers’ compensation benefit was paid.
The most common types of on-the-job injuries in Rhode Island in 2010, in terms of number reported, that resulted in benefits being paid were:
- Overexertion (from excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing)
- Falls (to same level or to a lower level)
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Caught in / under / between equipment or objects
- Contact with temperature extremes (burns or deep freezes)
- Struck by object (such as a tool falling on a worker from above)
- Bodily reactions (from bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling)
- Struck against object (such as a worker being pushed into a door or wall).
Who Can Collect Workers’ Comp Benefits in Rhode Island?
Covered employees who are injured at work or who become ill from working may have the right to collect workers’ compensation benefits in the state of Rhode Island.
Employers who have one or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Rhode Island residents in some employment situations are not automatically covered by workers’ comp. They include:
- Independent contractors
- Sole proprietors
- Certain real estate, agricultural and domestic service employees
- Police, firefighters, and federal employees, who are covered under different compensation programs
- Municipal employees, who are covered only if the municipality has chosen to be covered.
There are also some exceptions to coverage under workers’ compensation. Benefits may not be available for:
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Injuries suffered because a worker was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Injuries incurred while a worker was going to or coming from the job.
Workers’ compensation begins covering an employee on the first day of work and continues throughout the employment period.
What To Do If You Suffer a Workplace Injury
When an accident occurs, there are certain steps to take after a workplace injury. A worker must inform his employer of the date and location of the injury. The worker must also state that he was injured while working. It then becomes the employer’s duty to notify its workers’ compensation insurance company and arrange medical assistance for the injured worker.
Workers’ compensation medical and disability benefits are paid out according to a state-approved formula.
If a worker’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits is denied, or benefits that are approved are not satisfactory, the worker has the right to appeal the decision. Appeals to the Workers’ Compensation Court require a nominal fee, and the court recommends that workers who appeal to the court hire a lawyer. Once you file notice of appeal with the court, a pre-trial hearing will be scheduled within 21 days from the date of filing.
The judge will rule for the worker or the employer at the pre-trial hearing. If the injured worker or the employer objects, either may file a claim for trial within five days of the date on which the pretrial order is entered.
At this point, the worker’s case goes to trial, and the court conducts a full evidentiary hearing. Following the close of evidence, the trial judge is required to render a decision which responds to the relief sought in the petition.
If the worker remains unsatisfied, he may appeal further. An appellate panel will review the record of proceedings before the trial judge and evaluate all the legal and factual issues presented to it. The panel must then issue a decision and decree, which will affirm, reverse or modify the trial court’s order.
As you proceed with your workers’ compensation appeal, you will not be able to speak with the judge about your case. “All correspondence should be made through your lawyer,” the Workers’ Compensation Court says.
Types of Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Rhode Island offers different types of workers’ compensation benefits. Compensation for injuries suffered in on-the-job accidents may include money for:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs (physical therapy, psychological services, vocational services)
- Anticipated medical expenses
- Lost wages and lost productivity.
In the case of a fatal workplace accident, a family might obtain a death benefit.
If it can be shown that the injured worker’s employer or another party involved in the incident failed to follow established safety rules and regulations, a lawsuit may ask a court to award punitive damages.
Contact Our Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Gemma Law Associates, Inc., represents workplace accident victims and their families in workers’ compensation claims across Rhode Island. We help workers in Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, Newport, Cranston, Bristol and Woonsocket. If you are an out-of-state worker injured at a jobsite in Rhode Island, we can help you, too.
Call our Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys today at our toll-free number or use our online form. We can provide you with a free and confidential evaluation of your case and help you determine your legal options.