Workers’ compensation is a program that gives financial aid to employees who become injured at work or suffer from medical conditions related to their job. It’s also called workers’ comp, workman’s compensation, or workman’s comp.
If you’ve become injured or disabled on the job in Rhode Island, you may be wondering if you’re eligible for benefits, or what type of coverage you can receive under workers’ compensation.
To learn more about worker’s compensation, read on below. If you’re considering filing a claim, call Gemma Law at (401) 467-2300 to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney.
Types of Benefits Under Workers’ Comp
Nearly all states provide four types of benefits under workers’ compensation: medical treatment, wage replacement/disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits.
Medical benefits can cover the cost of treatment and care, such as:
- Doctor’s visits
- Laboratory tests
- Prescription medication
- Equipment such as a wheelchair or cane
Wage replacement benefits, or disability benefits, replace a portion of the wages you lose if you’re unable to work. These benefits differ based on your condition:
- Total disability benefits apply if you’re physically unable to earn any wages. The weekly compensation rate is 75 percent of your base wage.
- Partial disability benefits apply if your ability to earn wages is affected, but you are not totally disabled.
Your benefits will also differ if your disability is temporary or permanent.
Rhode Island law states that you are entitled to any necessary rehabilitation services to help you regain the ability to return to work.
Vocational rehabilitation services may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical restorative services like surgery or chiropractic care, and mental health services such as psychotherapy treatment.
If an employee dies from a workplace-related accident or injury, their dependents may receive death benefits from workers’ compensation. The amount of benefits is based on weekly salary, plus an annual cost-of-living allowance (COLA).
How long do benefits last?
If you receive weekly benefits for 26 weeks, you’ll be scheduled for a medical review by an impartial medical examiner. Repeat examinations are scheduled every 13 weeks to ensure you’re still eligible for benefits. An annual review is scheduled by the Workers’ Compensation Court as well.
Who and What isn’t Covered Under Workers’ Comp
There are exceptions to workers’ compensation coverage. Certain employees may not be covered, or they’re covered under different programs.
Under Rhode Island law, sole proprietors, partners, independent contractors, certain real estate agents, agricultural employees, and domestic service employees are exempt from workers’ comp, meaning they are not covered. Police, firefighters, and federal employees are covered under different programs.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation
If you’ve been injured or become ill while on the job, report the incident to your employer immediately. If you’re not able to earn full wages for at least three consecutive days, or if it requires medical treatment, your employer will ask the insurer to file a First Report of Injury form within 10 days.
From there, your employer’s insurance company will determine if your injury or illness is work-related, making you eligible for workers’ compensation.
There are some basic eligibility requirements you must meet to receive benefits.
- Employer coverage: Rhode Island law dictates that employers with one or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
- Employee status: You must be considered an employee — not an exempt worker as previously discussed — to be eligible.
- Work-related: Your illness or injury must be job-related. It does not have to occur at your place of work; if you become sick or injured while on a business trip or a social function, you are covered.
If your injury or illness isn’t work-related and you’re not eligible for workers’ compensation, you may be able to seek benefits under a different program, like Social Security Disability or Temporary Disability Insurance.
Contact a Workplace Injury Lawyer in Rhode Island
The rules and processes regarding eligibility and workers’ compensation benefits can be confusing and complex. If you’ve never filed a claim before, or you’re unsure how to appeal a denied claim, an experienced workplace injury attorney can help.
Gemma Law represents those seeking workers’ compensation benefits and their families in Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, Newport, Cranston, Bristol, and Woonsocket.