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Answering Your Questions About Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Laws

The workers’ compensation laws can easily overwhelm you, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal system or with insurance claims in general. The Law Offices of Jeremy M. Rix is here to assist you at every step of the process, and the firm strives to give you full answers in terms you understand.

Below are some of the most common questions people ask about workers’ compensation, which was previously called workmens’ compensation or workmen’s compensation. The below is not legal advice, as your specific circumstances may be different. Specific circumstances may mean the answers are different, but these general rules may prove helpful. For full and personalized information, you can call the office in Warwick to speak to attorney Jeremy Rix: 401-414-5107

Am I eligible for workers’ comp?

You may have a case for workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured at work. This includes if you were working off-site, as long as you are performing job duties.

Can I apply for workers’ compensation in more than one state?

You can only receive workers’ compensation benefits for your injury from one state. However, if you were either hired in or injured in Rhode Island, while the other event (the hiring or the work-related injury) occurred in another state, you may be able to choose whether to seek benefits in Rhode Island or in that other state. If you are not certain whether you have options, or which option is best, it is important to speak with an attorney to protect your rights. Don’t let the insurance company make your decisions for you!

Do I have to pay a retainer?

No, Attorney Jeremy Rix never requires workers’ compensation clients to pay him money at the time that he takes on a case or before expenses by third parties are incurred. In Rhode Island workers’ compensation matters, Attorney Rix is only paid for his services if and when he succeeds in getting you compensation. And, except in certain specific situations such as a “Lump Sum Settlement” or “Denial and Dismissal” (in which Attorney Rix may receive 20%), the payment of any fee to Attorney Rix is either set by the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court or negotiated so that it is paid for by the insurer in addition to what you receive, not a share of what you receive.  However, costs paid to third parties, such as court filing fees or hiring of expert witnesses, may be the client’s responsibility to pay. All payment terms are stated in a written Representation Agreement or Fee Agreement that is signed by both you and him if you both agree to form an attorney-client relationship and Attorney Rix wants to make sure that you and he have that discussion before so that there are no surprises.

Attorney Rix or his firm only receive attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation cases when a case or part of a case is resolved in the client’s favor, in part or in whole.

What are medical-only and scarring-only claims?

Medical-only claims are workers’ compensation claims that only look for financial compensation for medical expenses, not for lost wages. In Rhode Island, treatment for work-related injuries should be paid for by the insurance company in full, without copays or deductibles.

Scarring-only or disfigurement-only claims are claims that seek compensation for scarring and disfigurement. Speak with an experienced attorney who represents your interests; don’t trust an insurance company tell you how much your claim is worth.

Does it pay to have an attorney?  In Rhode Island, where there is a dispute over medical-only or scarring-only claims, attorneys representing employees can often negotiate with the insurance company for their attorneys’ fee after negotiating an amount on behalf of their clients.  So, their fee is usually paid by the insurance company on top of your compensation instead of taking a percentage of your payment. In the vast majority of medical-only and scarring-only claims that are granted or settled after the insurer initially denied or gave a lowball offer, an experienced attorney should be able to negotiate a fee from the insurance company on top of the amount they negotiate for you.

What proof will I need?

Workers’ compensation claims often rely on documentation such as human resources reports, supervisor notes, doctor’s office notes and medical records. You should also be sure to promptly report any injury and have proof of when you reported the injury, such as making a copy or taking a picture of any written report of a work-related accident, or saving a copy of an email or screenshot of a text message in which you promptly report a work-related accident to your supervisor.

Do I need to file by a certain date?

In Rhode Island, the deadline to file for workers’ comp is, in general, two years from the date of your injury. If you have a repetitive stress injury and are unsure of how this affects you, please call the firm at 401-414-5107.