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Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Laws

Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but there is a long history of independence in the Ocean State. From toymakers to sailors, locals enjoy the small town feel of this cozy New England gem. But if you were injured at work, you know that recovery is not an individual sport. Fortunately, Rhode Island workers' compensation laws require your employer to cover work-related injuries and illnesses, including benefits for lost income and vocational training.

Important aspects of Rhode Island workers' comp laws are included in the table and summaries below.

Statute Section

§ 28-29-1, et seq.

Time Limits

Benefit Waiting Period

Mental Injuries Coverage

Coverage

Most employers in Rhode Island are required to carry workers comp insurance. Exceptions include employers of domestic and agricultural workers. Several occupational diseases are explicitly compensable as personal injuries under Rhode Island workers' compensation law, including hernia, disability arising from silicosis or asbestosis, and anthrax poisoning. Mental injuries are covered so long as the injury stems from either physical injury or emotional stress greater than day-to-day stresses. This means that medical treatment for anxiety stemming from a work review is unlikely to be covered.

Benefits

Injured employees are entitled to wage replacement benefits equal to 75 percent of their average spendable weekly wage, subject to state-imposed limits. In addition to traditional medical treatment benefits, Rhode Island offers services to injured workers through the Dr. John E. Donley Rehabilitation Center. Services available here include physical and occupational therapy, psychological counseling, vocational counseling, and pain management treatment programs.

Rhode Island is one of the few states which protects your right to return to your job (in most cases). You must claim your right to reinstatement within 10 days of your doctor releasing you for work. However, ultimately Rhode Island is an at-will employment state, so your employer may legally terminate your employment despite this right. Finally, if your loved one died due to a workplace injury or occupational disease, you may be entitled to death benefits.

Dispute Resolution

If your claim is denied, you may request a hearing, where you or your attorney will have the opportunity to present evidence supporting your position. This evidence may include testimony by a medical treatment provider proving the extent of your disability or documentation proving your average weekly wages. Unless you and your employer agree otherwise, the workers' compensation court will render a decision within 72 hours of the hearing. If either party disagrees with the decision, that party may appeal the decision.

Get Help from a Workers' Comp Attorney in Rhode Island

Workplace accidents can cause financial hardships, including lost wages from time away from work and medical bills. But Rhode Island requires your employer to carry coverage and offers a myriad of services through the Donley Rehabilitation Center. If you were injured at work and are in need of skilled legal assistance with a potential claim for workers' comp benefits, get a free claim review from an experienced Rhode Island attorney.

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