The information provided on this site is to assist worker's to educate themselves about their rights to Worker's Compensation benefits in the State of Rhode Island. While most employees know that they are entitled to Worker's Compensation benefits after a work injury, they are unaware of the legal process necessary to recover the maximum benefits for lost wages, medical costs, loss of use of a body part, and scarring. If you have been injured and have questions about your legal rights and obligations, your employer's and its insurance company's rights and obligations, please review the information provided. And, if you have have been injured at work and need further assistance please feel free to contact me at anytime to schedule a free consultation. I am Attorney Edward Pepe and I am dedicated to helping injured workers obtain the all the Worker's Compensation benefits that they are entitled to as a result of a work-related injury. Thank you for visiting, Attorney Pepe.
JUST THE FAQS
I have been injured at work, am I entitled to Worker's Compensation Benefits? Any employee who was injured while in the course of performing work-related duties is entitled to worker's compensation, and as a result of that injury cannot perform the job duties of his or her current employment. Even if you were negligent or the injury was your fault, you can collect benefits without proving fault or determining the cause of the accident.
Who determines whether or not I receive Worker's Compensation Benefits? You're right to Worker's Compensation benefits is protected by law. It is important for you to remember and know that your employer does not make the decision whether or not you are entitled to benefits. Your right to Worker's Compensation is determined pursuant to the Rhode Island Worker's Compensation Act and that Act is enforced by the Rhode Island Worker's Compensation Court.
Are my rights to worker's compensation benefits protected, if I was recently injured and my employer is currently paying me wages for lost work time and the costs of medical care? This does not guaranty your entitlement to Worker's Compensation benefits. You need to immediately consult with a lawyer so a determination can be made as to what documents were filed by your employer with the Rhode Island Department of Labor regarding your claim, and whether or not a petition needs to immediately be filed with the Rhode Island Worker's Compensation Court to protect your legal right to present and future Worker's Compensation. REMEMBER: THE LAW DETERMINES YOUR RIGHT TO COMPENSATION NOT YOUR EMPLOYER!
Should I consult an attorney? Because your entitlement to Worker's Compensation is provided pursuant to the Rhode Island General Laws the services of an experienced attorney is an absolute necessity. Too many times I have seen hard working individuals come to my office and they have not sought the appropriate legal advice and lost their right to worker's compensation benefits or have lost some of the benefits that they were legally entitled to.
When should I retain the advice of an experienced Worker's Compensation Attorney? Immediately after an accideent or injury, you want ot hire counsel to file a timely claim with the Workers' Compensation Court. Even if your employer is presently paying you benefits shortly after a work injury or has paid you benefits in the past for a work related injury retain counsel to ensure that you have received everything that you are entitled to by law. And, if the legal process has already been initiated it is extremely important that you secure competent and experienced legal representation. Without proper legal representation mistakes and improper documentation can delay your recovery and even prevent you from full compensation. Competent legal counel will ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to within the law.
Is there a fee for legal services if I decide to retain an attorney? To obtain Worker's Compensation benefits an employee of a company does not pay any out-of-pocket fee to any attorney. In most cases a petition for benefits is filed in the Rhode Island Worker's Compensation Court and any fee for legal services is paid by the employer's worker's compensation insurance carrier. In some instances the case is settled for a sum of money and the fee is paid from the proceeds of the settlement amount which is paid by the employer's insurance carrier.
At work what should I do immediately following an injury? If you have been injured at work immediately report the injury to your supervisor and fill out an accident report form. This should be done even if you believe the injury will get better without medical treatment or lost time from work. This protects you from your employer and its insurance company claiming that you were not injured on the job. Consult with an attorney to ensure that all your legal rights to worker's compensation are protected and to ensure that you are receiving the maximum benefits under the law.
Should I seek medical treatment if I am injured at work? If you believe you are in need of medical treatment you should immediately go to an emergency room or a physician you choose.
Do I have to go to the employer's doctor when I am first injured at work? You have a legal right to choose the doctor for your injury. Your employer cannot require you to go to a doctor of their choice. Remember when you describe the details of the injury to the treating physician be consistent with what was reported to your employer to remove any doubt regarding the circumstances of the injury and future allegations that you were not telling the truth in the initial accident report.
What benefits am I entitled to under the Worker's Compensation Law? The Rhode Island Worker's Compensation Act provides an injured worker with the following benefits: 1) Lost wages which have resulted from an injury that prevents an employee from performing the duties of his current job; and 2) Money damages for the loss of use of a body part that resulted from a work-related injury; and 3) Scarring caused by a work-related injury; and 4) Costs of medical treatment resulting from a work related injury.
When am I entitled to lost wages as a result of a work-related incident and how much am I reimbursed? You are entitled to lost wages after you lose more than three days of work. The amount of the lost wage benefit will be a percentage of the employee's pay at the time of injury, plus an extra payment per dependent child and/or non-working spouse. It is important to note that an injured worker does not receive his full wage for lost time as a result of a work-related injury. A rough estimate is approximately 2/3rds of the employee's current wage.
Can I collect benefits for pain and suffering? Pain and suffering is not a covered benefit under the Rhode Island Worker's Compensation Act. You can file a third-party lawsuit against someone or an organization that was at fault for your injury. This can occur in many circumstances, but a typical case is one in which an employee used faulty equipment at work and was injured. That employee may have a suit against the manufacturer of that equipment and other individuals or entities that are legally responsible.
Can I sue my employer for an injury that I sustained on the job? No. One of the purposes of the Worker's Compensation Act was to limit the liability of employers for injuries that occurred to employees during the course of their employment and to provide a system for compensating injured employees.
Is there a time limit on filing a claim for Worker's Compensation Benefits? A claim for lost wages must be filed within two years from the first date you were unable to perform your job. A claim for loss of use of a body part must be filed within two years from a doctor's determination that your loss of use has reached maximum medical improvement. And, a claim for scarring must be filed within two years from a doctor's determination that your scar has reached an end result, which usually occurs six months after a surgical procedure.
How do I support myself and my family while my Worker's Compensation claim is pending? If you are not presently receiving worker's compensation benefits and are unable to work because of a work-related injury immediately apply for Temporary Disability Insurance (T.D.I.), 101 Friendship Street, Providence, RI 401-222-3625. This will ensure that you have income while a worker's compensation claim is pending. You can file a claim for T.D.I. online at http://www.dlt.ri.gov/tdi/ with the Rhode Island Department Department of Labor and Training.
If I am out of work because I am injured should I apply for unemployment insurance benefits? No, if you are injured at work you must not file for unemployment insurance, as it is an admission that you are able and ready to work. Filing an unemployment insurance claim can cause problems with a claim for Worker's Compensation Benfits. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training pays Unemployment Insurance benefits to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and, have sufficient wages in their base period and, are able, available, and actively seeking full-time work. Your employer pays all costs. Unemployment Insurance claims can be filed online www.dlt.ri.gov/ui or by contacting the UI Call Center at (401) 243-9100.