Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides benefits to covered employees who are injured as a result of a workplace accident or who contract an occupational illness.
Typical benefits provided by the Rhode Island workers’ compensation system provide money to help the injured worker pay medical expenses and replace lost wages during their recovery. The program also provides disability payments for workers who will not be able to resume employment and death benefits to the families of workers who have been killed in workplace accidents.
The Rhode Island Division of Workers’ Compensation says it paid benefits for 19,919 workplace injuries in 2010.
Types of Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available
The specific amount of the Rhode Island workers’ compensation benefits paid to injured and disabled workers are calculated with formulas set by the state.
For example, each year the Director of the Department of Labor and Training establishes medical and hospital fee schedules. These are rules and rates of reimbursement for medical services covered by workers’ compensation.
The following is a general outline of workers’ comp benefits in Rhode Island. This list may not be complete, as the program can be modified at any time.
Full medical benefits, once awarded, are provided with no time or monetary limitations. In addition to payments for specific medical procedures and the services of medical professionals (surgeon, assistant surgeon, physician, physician assistant, registered nurse, nurse practitioner) medical benefits may be paid to cover costs of:
- Pathology and Laboratory
- Casting and Strapping
- Chiropractic Services
Rehabilitation services for which Rhode Island workers’ comp may pay benefits include medical, vocational, re-employment and/or treatment by spiritual means to restore an injured employee as near as possible to his or her pre-injury status. Medical restorative services may include, but are not limited to:
- Hospital nursing services
- Attendant care
- Chiropractic care
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Psychological services and medicines
An injured worker may also claim disability benefits based on a medical finding that he or she will not be able to return to their job. “Total disability” means the worker cannot earn a living. “Partial disability” means the worker can earn a living but cannot return to the line of work pursued prior to the injury or earn an equal amount of pay because of his or her injury.
The amount of a disability benefit will be a percentage of the worker’s pay at the time of injury, plus an extra payment per dependent child and/or non-working spouse. Disability benefits are classified as:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) – Payments are capped (have a maximum) but continue for the duration of the disability.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) – Payments are capped (have a maximum) but continue for the duration of the disability.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) – Payments are subject to a minimum and maximum and may continue for up to 312 weeks.
Rhode Island worker’s compensation covers “permanent bodily” disfigurement. Benefits are based on the worker’s salary prior to the injury and are paid for up to 500 weeks.
If a worker dies from an injury suffered in a workplace accident, his or her survivors may receive a death benefit from workers’ compensation. The amount of the benefit will be based on the deceased worker’s weekly salary, plus an annual cost-of-living-allowance (COLA).
The surviving spouse would receive the benefit. If the worker had dependent children, a specified amount ($40 at the time of this writing) per child would be added to the weekly payment. If the worker’s widow remarries, the death benefit would then be divided equally among the worker’s dependent children.
If a surviving spouse receiving a workers’ compensation death benefit remarries and has no dependent children, the death benefit ceases.
Contact Our Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Because they must address any likely circumstance of worker injury or illness, the rules and regulations of the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation system are voluminous and complex. Those who are unfamiliar with them can easily be overwhelmed.
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 job site in Rhode Island, we can help you, too.
Call our Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys today toll-free 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.