Rhode Island Workers' Compensation
The basics as explained by our dedicated workers' compensation attorneys
Benefits provided by workers' compensation can help to preserve the quality of life that so many disabled or ill Americans have worked to have in the first place. In Rhode Island, every employer who has one or more employee working for them must provide compensation coverage, and can be reported for not adhering to that rule. Workers' compensation is a vital system put in place for the many people who've either been injured at work or contracted an occupational illness, and it shouldn't be a struggle to obtain.
However, nothing that involves the legal world is ever simple. When dealing with an injury, you need simple, and you need to be able to focus on recovery. At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we understand that, and understand that every case is different. You need an attorney on your side who takes your case personally. The process of obtaining workers' compensation shouldn't be as hard as it seems, which is why we're here to help.
- How is workers' compensation paid?
- What should I do after an injury?
- Filing your claim
- Types of workers' compensation
- What if my claim was denied?
Your or your loved one's injury has severely impacted a quality of life that everyone is entitled to, and recovery shouldn't be interrupted by a complex legal process. Contact us. We can help with the claims process, file to trial if need be.
How is workers' compensation paid?
Receiving money from your settlement can take on a few different forms. A lump sum may be offered to you, which you should always consult your attorney on before taking. In other forms of workers' compensation, you will get installments of pay according to which benefit you are awarded, and many injury-related expenses are eligible for reimbursement. Most run for a certain number of weeks, months or years before stopping, so when considering accepting a lump sum from the insurance company that would replace those benefits, consult your attorney.
What should I do after an injury?
Right after an injury, whether it's a freshly broken bone, or diagnosis of an occupational illness, no one wants to deal with the mental, physical, and emotional stress that any sort of malady may bring. It's important to try and keep a few key things in mind in order to ensure a smoother claim process:
- Report it: You should alert your employer as soon as the injury has occurred, or has been attributed to work. For instance, if you have hip problems that weren't connected to a fall at work until months later, you should still report that to your employer who will then relay it to their insurance company.
- See a doctor: Even the smallest bump on the head could indicate serious damage underneath. Internal bleeding, brain swelling and hemorrhaging are all potential outcomes of what seems like a minor injury. A medical examination will not only help ensure your health, but having a record of it will be incredibly important for your claim.
- Contact an attorney: With so many legal twists and turns, it's important to have someone on your side who can decode the workers' compensation process. An attorney won't leave you hanging with low-ball offers from the insurance company, or hanging with your quality of life in the balance.
Filing a claim can seem intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. In Rhode Island, you are eligible to apply for workers' compensation benefit as long as your injury is proven to be directly related to your job. The claims process can seem endless and frustrating, especially if denied. That's why it's so important to have an attorney on your side that can help you through it. In Rhode Island, you have 30 days to report your injury to your employer and two years to file, so time is of the essence.
Your employer's insurance company will fill out a First Report of Injury form, and it will be submitted to the Division of Workers' Compensation, which will then evaluate your claim. The types of workers' compensation benefits you may be deemed eligible for will vary based on a case-by-case basis, and your level of disability, which is usually determined by a medical professional.
Types of workers' compensation
Not everyone suffers the same level of injury. While some workers are permanently disabled, others can resume their working lives given time. There are several different types of compensation with differing benefits that you may be eligible for. The cost of medical bills, financial burden of wages lost due to missed work, even the cost of transportation to and from the doctor's office are all costs that add up quickly, leaving you to rely on compensation in order to make ends meet. What does workers' compensation cover?
- Medical: Hospital visits, the cost of prescriptions, office visit copays, and the mileage you take on in medical-related travel are all subject to reimbursement and coverage by workers' compensation in addition to disability benefits you may be eligible for.
- Total Disability: These benefits are awarded to people who are unable to work due to their injuries. They include 75% of your wage base for compensation, calculated off of your average weekly wages. Dependents are also factored into this award, additional grants are given on a case-by-case basis. The maximum weekly benefit for Rhode Island is $1,154.
- Partial Disability: Awarded when someone is able to return to work, partial disability benefits are calculated from 75% of the difference between your wage base before the injury, and what you're feasibly able to earn afterwards. These benefits are available for 312 weeks, and have the same weekly maximum as total disability benefits: $1,154.
- Scheduled Awards: In addition to the types of disability benefits mentioned above, the state of Rhode Island also recognized injuries to specific body parts on a state schedule. This gives workers who have more grievous injuries the opportunity to collect more benefits, which will help them greatly throughout the course of a lengthy recovery and adjustment period. Examples of this award in action include an amputated limb, for which the schedule would pay up to $180 for 312 weeks.
Though some cases go smoothly, not all of them go as smoothly as hoped. The option to appeal is available to you if your claim was denied, or if you have not received payments within 21 days of your filing. You should consult your attorney on the exact proceedings, as the appeals process isn't simple. For this, you'd file a petition with the Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Court, and given a hearing with a judge who will decide the final outcome of the case. If you disagree, you can move forward to file an appeal with the Appellate Division.
If you haven't contacted a lawyer prior to these steps, don't wait. These steps aren't easy to take on your own, especially not when the quality of your life is in the balance.
Taking the form of weekly payments set to state standards or lump sums, your settlement will be determined based on the degree of injury you've suffered, and how long you have/or will be out of work for. Remember, lump sums are tempting, but always consult an attorney before agreeing to one, as insurance companies can offer low-ball sums instead of what you really deserve. Your case needs personal attention, which we're here to give. Contact us for a free case evaluation today, and let us help you recover wholly.