What are workers’ compensation benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to or on behalf of an employee who is injured in the course of his employment. These benefits generally comprise three areas: weekly workers’ compensation benefits, payment for necessary medical services, and payments for scarring and/or loss of function.
How do I know if I am entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?
The best way to know if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits is to consult with an attorney who can determine whether you should receive these benefits. In general, a person is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they are an employee of a company and are injured while in the course of their employment (i.e. working).
When should my benefits start?
In Rhode Island, benefits start on the fourth (4th) day of disability. In Massachusetts, benefits start on the fifth (5th) day of disability. Other states may have different timetables.
What should I do if my benefits have not started?
You should meet and consult with an attorney to discuss how you can proceed to get those workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled. In Rhode Island, a claim can be filed on your behalf 21 days following the injury. In Massachusetts a claim can be filed 30 days following the injury.
Is there a time limit within which I must make my claim?
In general, there is a two (2) year statute of limitations on making a claim for benefits in Rhode Island. The Massachusetts system has a four (4) year limitation. However, you should consult with an attorney to determine if you have a viable claim.
How is the amount of weekly workers’ compensation benefits determined?
In general, weekly workers’ compensation benefits are determined by the gross weekly earnings of the injured worker earned in the weeks preceding the injury. There are many different calculations used in determining the exact amount each injured worker should receive; therefore it is best to consult with an attorney to determine if you are being paid the correct amount, or to determine how much you will be paid.
Can I sue my employer directly instead of collecting workers’ compensation benefits?
In both Rhode Island and Massachusetts an employee is generally not allowed to sue their employer directly for damages. There are rare exceptions to this general rule, so it is always best to consult with an attorney to be certain of your rights.
What other benefits may I be entitled to?
Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts have systems in place to provide Vocational and Rehabilitation services to assist injured workers in returning to the workforce.
Does my employer have to take me back to work once I recover from my injury and am ready to return to the workplace?
In Rhode Island, an employer is required to reinstate an injured worker for a period of one (1) year from the date of injury. This rule does have a few exceptions, so it is always best to consult with an attorney to determine your rights. In Massachusetts, there is no right to reinstatement; however many employers do take an injured worker back. In both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, an injured worker who is a member of a union may have additional rights to be reinstated in their position under their union contract.
Does it cost money for me to retain an attorney for my workers’ compensation claim?
At Rappoport, DeGiovanni & Caslowitz, Inc, there is never a fee charged to an employee for representation in a workers’ compensation claim. In all cases, any fee earned in the process of handling your claim is paid directly by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. If there is a settlement of a workers’ compensation claim, the attorney’s fee is a percentage of the settlement figure. In general, the fee in a Rhode Island claim is 15%, and in Massachusetts the fee is either 15% or 20%, depending on the specific circumstances of the claim. It is important to note that not all workers’ compensation cases are settled, so it is best to consult with an attorney to determine the best course for your claim.