injury at work

Important Deadlines for Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim in Rhode Island

If you suffered a work-related injury or illness in Rhode Island, workers’ compensation provides benefits to cover medical care, lost wages, and more. However, strict deadlines apply for filing a claim. This post explains the key time limitations and claim requirements in detail.

Workers' comp in Rhode Island is a no-fault system that provides compensation for job injuries regardless of negligence. But to receive benefits, you must file a claim on time and prove the injury is work-related.

Determining if Your Injury is Covered

Types of Injuries Covered

  • Work-related injuries and illnesses directly caused by incidents on the job are covered. This includes slips, falls, repetitive motion injuries, motor vehicle accidents while working, and more.
  • Aggravation or exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions qualify if work activities directly contributed to or accelerated the worsening of the condition.
  • Exceptions exist for self-inflicted injuries, injuries caused by intoxication, and certain other cases per Rhode Island laws.

Importance of Consulting an Attorney – An experienced workers' compensation attorney can thoroughly evaluate the specifics of your case and provide expert guidance on your options for seeking benefits under Rhode Island laws.

Proving Work Relationship

For an injury to be covered, it must arise out of and occur within the course and scope of employment. There must be a clear causal connection to performing work duties.

The burden is on the injured employee to prove this work relationship with persuasive evidence like medical records, testimony from co-workers, work logs demonstrating you were on the job at the time, and other documentation.

Having an attorney help assemble this evidence and present your case in the strongest possible manner is key.

Types of Benefits Available

If a workers' compensation claim is approved, common benefits available include:

  • Medical treatment – Payment of all reasonable medical costs related to the work injury, including hospital fees, medications, assistive devices, and rehabilitation services.
  • Lost wages – Temporary total disability benefits equaling 75% of the worker's average weekly wage, if they are unable to work due to the injury.
  • Permanent disability – Permanent impairment benefits if the injury causes lasting disability, based on the degree of impairment per medical evidence.
  • Death benefits – Payments to dependents if the work injury results in death, including burial expenses.

Reporting an Injury to Your Employer

Employees must provide notice of work-related injuries to their employer within 30 days of the incident under RI General Laws §28-33-19.

Failing to report the injury within 30 days can result in denial of your claim for benefits. The employer and insurer may argue lack of timely notice prejudiced their ability to investigate the incident and injury.

Exceptions exist if the employer had actual knowledge through other means or if the injury worsened gradually over time, delaying awareness of its work relationship. But it is still advisable to report any potential work injuries immediately.

Documenting the Injury Report

  • Providing written notice of the injury via an accident report or letter is best for documentation. It creates a clear record that notice was given.
  • Make sure to get a signed and dated copy of any written notice you give the employer to prove timely compliance.
  • If notice was provided verbally, follow up via email to the employer summarizing the report to create a paper trail.

Cooperation with Employer

After reporting the injury, employees must attend all appointments with the employer’s approved medical providers for evaluations, treatments, and exams. Failure to cooperate with the prescribed treatment plan can jeopardize your claim.

Choosing your own doctors or missing appointments can give the insurer reason to deny benefits for noncompliance. You want to demonstrate full cooperation.

Filing a Claim Petition

  • A formal claim petition for workers' compensation benefits must be filed within 2 years of the date of injury, with no exceptions granted under RI General Laws §28-35-57.
  • This strict 2-year deadline cannot be extended. Petitions filed even one day late will be denied by the courts.
  • Submitting the completed claim petition to the Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Court satisfies the filing requirement.

Elements of Claim Petition

To start the claim process, an injured worker must file a petition with the Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Court within 2 years of the injury (RIGL §28-35-57). The petition should include:

  • Detailed facts about how, when, and where the injury occurred.
  • Medical records supporting the injury and need for treatment
  • Documentation of any lost wages resulting from the injury (RIGL §28-33-18).
  • The specific benefits being requested, such as medical treatment or lost wages.

Service Requirements

The claim petition must be properly served on all interested parties, following strict rules for service (WC Court RI Rules of Procedure). Failure to meet service rules could invalidate the claim.

Appealing Adverse Decisions

If benefits are denied by the Workers' Compensation Court, the decision can be appealed to the Appellate Division of the Workers' Compensation Court within 30 days (RIGL §28-35-28). This deadline is strict, with limited exceptions.

Grounds for Appeal

Common grounds for appealing a workers' compensation decision include:

  • Benefits were wrongfully denied or terminated.
  • A settlement was inadequate.
  • There were procedural errors in the initial proceedings.

Appellate Procedures

To appeal a decision, an injured worker must (WC Court RI Rules of Procedure):

  • File proper appellate documents, such as a claim of appeal.
  • Ensure service on all interested parties.
  • Make a deposit for appeal costs.

If you've suffered a work-related injury in Rhode Island, it's essential to understand the strict deadlines for filing a workers' compensation claim. The dedicated team at Audette, Audette & Violette have over 100 years of experience helping injured workers secure the maximum compensation they deserve under the law.

Contact us today at 401-406-6962 for a free consultation. We will review your case details and make sure your claim is filed on time. With our team on your side, you can feel confident your rights are protected and your benefits maximized.


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