Each U.S. state has specific laws, rules, and procedures regarding workers’ compensation benefits. These laws protect both employers and employees in the event of an occupational illness or injury. If you have an on-the-job injury, then you may qualify for Rhode Island workers’ compensation benefits. We’ll explain the process to file your workers’ compensation claim and other critical info below.
Confirming Your Employer Has Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Coverage
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training requires workers’ compensation coverage for all employers with at least one employee. However, certain workers are exempt from this automatic coverage, such as:
- Federal employees
- Police officers
- Sole proprietors and their partners, where applicable
- Independent contractors
- Some real estate professionals
- Agricultural workers
- Domestic service workers
- Municipal workers, unless the municipality offers it (if this applies to you, ask your supervisor or HR department whether you have workers’ comp coverage)
- Employees whose injuries are either self-inflicted or the result of unlawful intoxication in the workplace
Steps to Apply for Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Follow these steps to apply for workers’ compensation benefits after your workplace accident:
- Seek medical treatment from the closest healthcare provider, ER, urgent care clinic, or your own doctor. If you don’t have a doctor treat your illness or injury right away, you may lose your right to benefits. Be sure to tell the healthcare provider that your injury or illness is work-related.
- Notify your supervisor or HR department about your accident as soon as possible after your medical treatment. We strongly recommend you do this in writing and describe everything that happened. If your supervisor witnessed the accident, even better.
- Your employer then has 10 days to notify the company’s insurance provider about your accident. They should file a First Report of Injury form with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to start your claim.
- You must miss three full workdays due to your injury before you can qualify for lost-wage benefits. State law says your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance cannot pay you for this three-day waiting period. If you don’t need at least three days off to recover from your accident, you’ll receive only medical benefits. This means workers’ compensation must pay all your accident-related medical bills, but no weekly wage-loss benefits.
- Your employer’s insurer should approve or deny your claim within 21 days.
- If denied benefits, you can petition the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court to review your case. You must pay $20 to file your petition (it’s $25 to file an appeal with the Appellate Division). Then, you should receive notice they’ve scheduled your hearing date about 21 days later.
Every Rhode Island workers’ compensation claim is unique, so your experience may vary. To learn more, read What You Should Know After a Work-Related Injury/Illness.
What Benefits Are Available to Injured or Sick Employees in Rhode Island?
Employees with on-the-job injuries or illnesses may qualify for several different benefits, depending on your specific circumstances:
- Weekly Total Disability Benefits – If you cannot work at all due to your injury, workers’ comp pays 75% of your wages while you recover. As of October 1, 2021, the max weekly payment you can receive under this benefit is $1,438.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits – If you can only perform light-duty or part-time work while you recover, you may receive partial wage-loss benefits. Workers’ Compensation Court may reduce this weekly compensation amount once you reach maximum medical improvement for your injury.
- Dependency Allowance Benefits – Do you qualify for weekly total disability payments while you recover from your accident? If yes, you may also receive a small weekly allowance for each eligible dependent. Eligible dependents include spouses who do not work and children younger than 18 years old. This weekly dependency allowance benefit may also apply to children aged 18-23 currently enrolled in college full-time.
- Medical Expenses – Your employer’s insurer must pay all your workplace injury or illness-related medical bills. Those payments go directly to your healthcare provider or facility, not to you. You have no co-pays or deductibles for any medical treatments, drugs, or therapy your doctor prescribes to treat your injury.
- Physical and/or Vocational Rehabilitation – If you cannot return to work full-time in your previous position, then you may qualify for rehabilitation benefits. This may include physical rehab, job-placement training, etc.
In addition to these benefits, you may qualify for a lump-sum payment for permanent injuries you cannot recover from. These include things like arm, leg, finger or toe amputations, job-related hearing loss, paralysis, permanent scarring, or disfigurement.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Still have questions or need help with your claim? It’s smart to ask a lawyer to review your case, especially if any of the following apply to you:
- You have pre-existing health conditions
- Another coworker is involved or potentially at fault for your injury
- Your employer requires an on-the-spot drug test once you report your accident
- You wish to appeal a denied workers’ compensation claim
- Your employer terminated you after reporting your injury
- An employer refuses to hold your position open until you recover
We can connect you with a local workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your case for free. You’ll pay nothing to receive legal advice by phone during regular business hours. This phone call doesn’t obligate you to do anything else or retain representation.
Finally, these attorneys all work on contingency – you’ll pay no out-of-pocket fees to get professional legal help with your claim. If your case doesn’t win a cash settlement, then you pay $0 for legal assistance. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.