Dec 2017

Workers’ Compensation Coverage For Rhode Island Retail Workers Injured During the Holiday Shopping Season

worker's compensation attorneysThe busy and hectic holiday shopping season holds the potential for many types of injuries at retail locations. Slips, trips and falls, parking lot car accidents, and even violence can occur as a result of chaotic circumstances at shopping centers. These risks do not just affect shoppers. Retail workers, too, can be injured in these types of accidents. A Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney can help protect the legal rights of retail employees who are injured at work during the busy holiday shopping season.

The Many Types of Accidents That Can Occur at Retail Locations

Some retail property accidents are common. Others are less foreseeable. Such was the case when the roof of a Bristol shopping center collapsed during a snowstorm in March 2017. According to U.S. News and World Report, the affected unit of the Belltower Plaza was empty at the time of the collapse, and no one was injured in the incident. The rest of the plaza was shut down by the fire department and building inspector.

Violence can erupt at shopping centers as well. This was the cause of the tragic death of a Westerly man reported by U.S. News and World Report. After a brief, early-morning confrontation in the parking lot of a Westerly shopping center, the man was killed. The Rhode Island Department of Health gave the cause of death as “multiple trauma to the head.” The other man involved in the confrontation has been charged with manslaughter. The Westerly Sun reports that the two men did not know each other prior to the confrontation, and that no weapons were used in the assault. Surveillance video showed the two men involved in a brief physical exchange that lasted fifteen seconds.

Some holiday shopping days are especially prone to violence and injuries. According to the Daily Mail, ten people have died in the United States as a result of Black Friday shopping since 2007. The Daily Mail also identifies common Black Friday injuries, including parking lot car accidents and fights for parking spaces; stampede injuries such as crushed organs and broken bones; in-store injuries from falling merchandise or speeding shopping carts; and violent altercations over limited merchandise or restricted deals.

Retail Workers Injured on the Job Have Legal Rights

These same incidents can injure retail workers as well as shoppers. Any employee who is injured on the job may have access to different sources of compensation for their injuries. Employers carry workers’ compensation coverage to compensate retail workers who are injured on the job. More severe or permanent injuries may also entitle a worker to disability benefits. Finally, if a negligent third party is responsible for the injury, the injured worker may be able to pursue a personal injury claim.

Consult with a Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after any workplace accident. The hectic holiday shopping season can cause retail workers to sustain injuries on the job, and these injuries may be subject to many different types of compensation. We will help injured workers investigate all potential sources of compensation in order to protect their legal rights.  

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Nov 2017

Fatigue Causes Workplace Accidents in Rhode Island

There are many causes of workplace accidents. Fatigue is quickly becoming recognized as one of the top contributing factors, and is alarmingly common among American employees. It can also significantly increase the chances of being involved in an on-the-job accident. Workers may not even realize a fatigued coworker has placed them in danger.

Under a no-fault system, workers are generally barred from suing their co-workers or employers. However, they can file for workers’ compensation benefits, even if the workplace accident was their own fault.

The Scope of the Fatigue Problem

Fatigue has become such a common cause of workplace injuries that the National Safety Council recently completed a study of the problem. According to the findings of this study, approximately 13 percent of all workplace accidents can be attributed to fatigue. More concerning, a staggering 97 percent of workers have at least one risk factor for fatigue, and more than 80 percent have multiple risk factors. Some industries create a pay structure which encourages workers to increase their hours and work while fatigued. One example is the trucking industry, which pays drivers by the mile – not by the hour. This is one of the many reasons why the trucking industry has such a high rate of worker fatalities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 25 percent of all American workplace fatalities in 2015 occurred in the trucking industry. But it’s not just truckers. Fatigue causes accidents in many other professions as well.

Workplace accidents related to fatigue also increase when workers are subject to night shifts, swing shifts, or irregular work schedules that interfere with healthy sleep patterns. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that accident and injury rates are 18 percent higher on evening shifts, and 30 percent higher on night shifts than injury rates on day shifts. OSHA also reports that working twelve hours per day is correlated with a 37 percent increase in the risk of sustaining a workplace injury.

What Can Rhode Island Workers Do to Prevent Fatigue-Related Workplace Injuries?

Some fatigue risk factors cannot be eliminated entirely. Hospitals, for example, will always need nurses to work the night shift. The workers can take certain precautions to reduce the risk of injury. For example: night nurses who have a consistent schedule and can readjust their bodies to a regular sleep cycle, are likely to be less fatigued that those nurses who only work the night shift intermittently. Employers can reduce their chances of facing a liability for a workplace accident by creating night shift schedules that allow the necessary flexibility for night shift workers to reestablish their sleep patterns.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact an experienced Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. You have the legal right to be compensated for your injuries.

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Oct 2017

Rhode Island Firefighters May Soon Have New Legal Protections for Workers’ Compensation and Disability Pensions

Firefighting is a dangerous profession. Many firefighters get injured on the job, which may entitle them to workers’ compensation and disability pensions. In some cases, these are the only financial resources the firefighters, and their families, have. Unfortunately, many injured firefighters have found it difficult to access the resources they need.

The Rhode Island General Assembly recently passed a new bill to ensure that these benefits are protected for these public servants. When a public employee is injured on the job, Rhode Island law protects their right to both workers’ compensation and public disability benefits. It is important to seek legal advice to ensure that all your legal rights are protected. worker's compensation attorney

The New Bill

According to Rhode Island Public Radio, the new bill creates a legal presumption for firefighters who suffer from heart disease. Heart disease is now presumed to be job related if the firefighter has been on the job for at least three years. This removes a significant legal hurdle for firefighters looking to access workers’ compensation and disability benefits. Without this bill, firefighters suffering from heart disease have to present medical records and other evidence to prove that their heart disease was a job related illness. This can be a real challenge, with so many contributing factors to heart disease, it can be difficult to prove that the illness was caused by one’s work.

Now, firefighters seeking workers’ compensation and disability benefits need to only establish that they have heart disease, and that they have been on the job for at least three years.

The bill has been passed by both houses of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and must be signed by the governor before it will become effective law. A spokesman for the governor stated that she would consider the final version of the bill when it is presented to her, but that she has concerns about granting lifetime, tax-free disability pensions, especially in cases where a physician’s opinion might overcome the presumption that the heart disease is related to the firefighter’s job. Other opponents, such as the state General Treasurer, point to the enormous cost of the bill. Taxpayers will bear millions of dollars in costs if the bill is signed into law.

What Firefighters Should Do After Sustaining a Workplace Injury or Illness

The first, and most important, step after any workplace injury is to seek medical attention. Injuries that are not treated tend to get worse. This leads to unnecessary time off work and accumulating medical expenses. Ensure that your injuries are properly tended to, and that you schedule follow-up appointments or consultations with specialists as needed. The same is true for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease. Illnesses that are not treated also tend to get worse. Access appropriate medical treatment for any chronic medical condition.

Once you have seen to your medical needs, consult with an experienced Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. There are many different types of insurance coverage and disability benefits available for workplace injuries or illnesses.

An attorney will help you determine which options are most appropriate for your situation. A lawyer will also be able to help determine whether you can prove that your injuries have, in fact, been caused by your job. It is important to begin this process as soon as possible so that you do not miss important deadlines for filing claims. It is also important to preserve important medical evidence, such as photos of injuries, before the evidence is lost.

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Sep 2017

Fatal Rhode Island Workplace Injuries More Likely for Older Workers

According to the Associated Press, workplace fatality rates are higher for older workers than their younger counterparts. There are numerous contributing factors to this trend, but one thing that remains constant is the need for protection of the legal rights of injured workers. The families of Rhode Island workers whose lives are lost on the job also have legal rights that must be protected.

As the “baby boomer” generation devotes more of their lives to their work than previous generations, the average age of the American worker has increased. Federal estimates conclude that 25 percent of the labor market will be comprised of older workers by 2024.older workers and workplace fatalities

There are many physical and mental complications that come with age, and they can make older workers more prone to workplace injuries. Such complications include:

  • Hearing and vision impairment;
  • Decreased response times;
  • Balance problems;
  • Medication side effect or cross-effects;
  • Chronic muscle problems;
  • Chronic bone conditions such as arthritis.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that that in 2003, more than 1.5 million of the most serious job-related injuries involved workers over the age of 55. BLS also reports the fatality rates for older workers that year were three times greater than the fatality rate for younger workers. The most common fatal events for workers aged 65 and older were transportation incidents and falls.

Protecting Older Workers From Workplace Injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has studied the issue of older worker safety extensively, and issued recommendations for best preventative safety practices in the workplace.

First, the CDC notes that while younger workers have physical advantages, their elders have years of experience and accompanying knowledge of their positions. They therefore recommend that employers shift older workers into positions of mentoring and training younger workers, to best utilize the assets of both groups.

Next, the CDC emphasizes the importance of disease prevention and detection programs in employee health programs. This is particularly important for the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, and other diseases which are common to older populations. Logistical considerations may include:

  • Slower and more self-paced work;
  • More rest breaks;
  • Fewer repetitive tasks;
  • Avoiding static postures;
  • Better lighting;
  • Less glare;
  • More adjustable seating.

Flexible work schedules can also accommodate medical care and periods of decreased work ability, to sustain better long-term productivity for the worker.

While employer programs can be an asset to employee health, it is important for older workers to take the initiative in ensuring their own safety in the workplace. Proactive measures, such as medical screening and annual vision tests, can help address medical issues before they cause workplace injuries.

Employees must examine their own work station to identify the ergonomic environment that is best suited to their physical needs. Better chair support, rest breaks, increased lighting, safety equipment, and other measures all help prevent injuries and can be put in place by employers. Sadly, employee intervention is often needed to initiate these steps that would better ensure workplace safety.

 Fair Compensation For Victims

 When injuries do occur, a Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorney will ensure that workplace injury victims and their families have access to the fair compensation to which they are legally entitled. Rhode Island General Law, Title 28, Section 28-29-1 through 28-29-30 details the general provisions of Rhode Island workers’ compensation law. Benefits, meanwhile, are outlined in Chapter 28-33. These laws are not easy to understand, and it may feel like you are at odds when trying to take a stand against the negligence responsible for fatal injury.

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Aug 2017

Hospitals are most dangerous workplace for Rhode Island workers

While Rhode Island was ranked one of the safest states to work in, a new study by Zippia finds that hospitals are the most dangerous worksites for the state’s employees.

While most injured in the course of employment are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, it is not uncommon for employers and insurers to challenge this right. workers compensation attorneys

How the “Most Dangerous” Designation Was Calculated

The Zippia study identified and weighed several factors to rank the “most dangerous” states and industries. It began with injury reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Those figures were then divided by each state’s total reports comparative to the number of workers employed in that state.

Then, workplace death rates reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics were weighed as a separate factor in the analysis of dangerousness. Lastly, data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was broken down to determine the number of injuries in each state per mile driven. Given that most auto accidents are not work-related, this piece was not considered as heavily as other information.

Real Life Accidents in the Healthcare Industry

The injuries statistics are more than just numbers. Real employees’ lives can be devastated by the effects of workplace injuries. Consider the example of a Philadelphia nurse who damaged a disc in her back while assisting in moving a patient. National Public Radio reports that she required surgery to install a metal cage and four long, sharp screws in her back. As a result, she saw the end of her nursing career.

Back and musculoskeletal injuries among registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants also occurred at a rate approximately three times higher than that of construction laborers.

In addition to physical job hazards, violence in the workplace is another very real danger faced by those employed in healthcare.

CNN reports on a series of troubling violent incidents in hospitals, including: a Baltimore doctor who was shot and critically injured by a gunman, a man in Valley Stream, New York who broke a chair and used the legs to beat a nurse, a gunman who opened fire in a Laurinburg, North Carolina hospital after a bar fight, and a man who killed two hospital employees in a Columbus, Georgia hospital after being dissatisfied with his mother’s care. CNN interviewed one emergency nurse who reported that she had been scratched, bitten, spat upon and struck hard enough to break her jaw. The alleged attacker later apologized, saying merely that he had grown tired of waiting for care.

And here in Providence, the emergency department of Rhode Island Hospital went on lockdown after experiencing violence in the wake of a bar fight. WPRO reports that nightclub shooting victims were being treated at the hospital when family and friends arrived in the waiting area. This group caused a “disturbance” deemed serious enough to cause the hospital staff to perform a lockdown and call Providence police to assist. Twenty persons were removed from the property by the security staff and Providence Police Department.

Employees have rights to protection under Rhode Island law. Title 28 of the State of Rhode Island General Law makes specific provisions for safety in the workplace. Employers which do not follow these laws are subject to regulatory penalties such as suspension of a business license, fines, civil lawsuits, and even criminal charges.

After any workplace injury, contact a New England workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. You have legal rights which must be protected.

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Jul 2017

Exceptions to Rhode Island’s Workers’ Comp Coming-and-Going Rule

The “coming and going” rule in Rhode Island workers’ compensation cases is one that typically most impacts commuting employees. These are the workers who are coming and going to their place of employment and are injured during the commute.

Updating his delivery status

As our Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, injuries are generally only compensable by a workers’ compensation insurer if the injury:

  • Occurred in the course of one’s employment;
  • Arose out of the scope of one’s employment.

What that means is that there is some proximity link (by time, distance or circumstance) and that it there is a causal link between one’s work and the injury. The “coming and going” rule has generally held that a worker who is commuting back and forth to work is not considered to be acting in the scope of employment.

However, as our attorneys can explain, this is not an absolute rule, and Rhode Island courts have carved out many exceptions.

Rhode Island Exceptions to the “Coming and Going” Rule

Courts in Rhode Island have been confronted with this issue numerous times, and have made many exceptions for workers asserting claim to workers’ compensation benefits despite their commuting at the time of injury.

Courts will often consider whether:

  • You were being paid for your time at the time of injury.
  • Employer was benefiting from your actions at the time of the injury.
  • You were in a company vehicle.

None of these single factors will be the sole decider, and courts will often take into consideration the totality of the circumstances.

One example of an exception was the 1995 Rhode Island Supreme Court ruling in the matter of Toolin v. Aquidneck Island Medical Resource. According to court records, plaintiff was employed as a nursing assistant for a medical company, with duties involving providing care for patients in their homes.

Each week, plaintiff received a new schedule of her assignments for the week, each time at different locations. Employee would then drive directly to these sites, which were patient homes. She wasn’t paid for her time or commute expenses. One day in 1991, plaintiff left one patient’s home and was en route to the next one when she was involved in a serious car accident that rendered her totally incapacitated.

Plaintiff sought workers’ compensation coverage, but was denied by the insurer as well as by a trial judge, who ruled her injuries did not occur in the scope of employment, as she was commuting.

The appellate division reversed, finding that because commuting was part of plaintiff’s job, her injuries did in fact occur in the scope of employment and arose out of it, thus rendering her eligible for benefits. Her employer appealed, arguing the coming-and-going rule in Rhode Island barred her from receiving benefits. The state supreme court, however, affirmed, finding there was sufficient evidence of a nexus between her injuries and employment.

Fighting for Your Workers’ Comp Benefits

At the time of that 1995 ruling, it was an issue of first impression for the court. But in the more than two decades since, many other cases have followed suit.

If you are injured during your work commute in Rhode Island, our workers’ compensation attorneys may be able to help.

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Jun 2017

Could Soap Cause Toxic Chemical Exposure At Work?

Soap BarCareful reading of food labels to become aware of any processed sweets, preservatives or other chemicals has become second nature for many of us. However, few of us have been reading our soap labels. Maybe we should start.

As reported by Occupational Health & Safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that up to 40 percent of workers will suffer from some form of occupational dermatitis at some point, and it often can be traced back to industrial soap.

Although dermatitis, a temporary skin condition characterized by irritation, redness and itching, may not seem serious, it is known to account for a noteworthy number of workers’ compensation claims. As noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a single claim for workplace illness due to dermatitis can cost $3,500 in workers’ compensation claims, with an average length of disability of 24 days.

Industrial Soap as a Toxic Exposure risk

Soap is supposed to be one of the substances at work that keeps us safe. It helps prevent the spread of germs and disease, particularly for restaurant and food preparation workers. It can minimize the risk of infections within the health care industry, when handling garbage, after handling animals/ pets or after using the restroom/ handling personal hygiene.

However, it appears the soaps often used can be hazardous.

OHS reports industrial hand soap often contains a type of ingredient called petroleum distillates. These are produced from crude oil, and include certain minerals such as kerosene, and naphtha. These are made with oil refineries alongside heating oil, chemical feedstocks and fuel for motor vehicles.

Exposure to these chemicals in the short term may well cause irritation of the skin. However, over time, long-term exposure could put you at risk of dermatitis, which is characterized by cracking, dry and painful skin. It can take weeks to recover.

Carcinogens in Soap

Another possible risk exposure to carcinogens, which may contaminate petroleum distillates. These chemicals may seep through into the skin, and may result in someone suffering potentially harmful levels of these toxins. In some parts of the world, these ingredients are fully banned due to the amount of safety concerns surrounding them. But they are used widely throughout the United States.

These aren’t the only problems

Additional hazards can arise when soap is made with gritty materials to help remove substances like dirt and oil. Some soaps use products like pumice (a type of rough volcanic glass) to do the job. We see it used frequently in occupations such as housekeeping, beauty salons and construction.

While it works to remove the grime, it can cause microabrasions in the skin that can result in skin removal.

Dermatitis Workers’ Compensation

While dermatitis may not seem serious in the grand scheme of work-related injuries, our Providence workers’ compensation lawyers know it can be debilitating in some cases.

One study in the Journal of Allergy examined return-to-work outcomes of 70 workers diagnosed with occupational contact dermatitis. They were tracked for six months, after which time 38 percent were still not working, almost entirely owing to their skin condition. Further, of the 62 percent that had returned to work, nearly a third had changed jobs due to the adverse effects of the skin condition.

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May 2017

Securing Workers’ Compensation for Massachusetts Nurses an Uphill Battle

The risk of work-related injuries faced by nurses often fails to make headlines, despite them standing at a higher risk of workplace injury than construction workers. In a recent incident at Bridgewater State Hospital, a nurse was seriously injured recently when a patient reportedly punched and knocked her to the ground before beginning to kick her.

South Coast Today reports the nurse was attacked from behind, making this a particularly vicious attack where she could not properly defend herself. Though she did manage to get away and call for help from security, she still suffered serious injuries to her head and knees. Three corrections officers who responded to the scene also were injured and required medical attention.nurse work injury

Although this dramatic incident made statewide headlines, the risk of work-related injury posed to nurses across the country often does not. Nurses in all sorts of professional settings are at risk of a variety of job site injuries. Nonetheless, it can be difficult to secure workers’ compensation benefits in Massachusetts.

The risks of a hostile patient are just one thing to worry about when it comes to nurses being injured in the line of duty. A 2015 report by WGBH 89.7 revealed that anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of healthcare workers suffer musculoskeletal ailments. These include shoulder, back and neck injuries. Although safety guidelines limit the weight nurses should lift to 50 pounds, many nurses still need to lift other adult humans, and that puts significant strain on their backs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates more than 2,800 healthcare workers employed in private hospitals in the Commonwealth missed work for some period of time in 2014 due to a musculoskeletal injury. Also at risk were orderlies and aides, who were deemed four times more likely to miss work due to this type of injury than the average worker in the state.

State-of-the-art mechanical lifts are supposed to ease these burdens and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. However, these devices cost approximately $2 million each, and not all facilities have them, or have enough of them, which leaves them having to resort to human labor.

The WGBH report revealed that in facilities that regularly used the lifts, there was an approximate 40 percent reduction with patient handling injuries. The Massachusetts Nurses Association has been lobbying for a state law that would require hospitals to adopt patient lifting protocol that would specifically include the lifts.

As of that 2015 report, one-third of hospitals lacked a protocol for safe patient handling and two-thirds of intensive care units don’t have lifts.

As far as how many nurses are still suffering injuries, it is somewhat difficult to ascertain because, as NPR’s Injured Nurses Investigation revealed, most hospitals do not make their employee injury statistics public. This poses a difficulty in being able to compare from region-to-region or state-to-state. However, we do know that many hospitals have been struggling with stagnating or falling revenues combined with rising costs. They are still turning a profit, of course, but the fact that these margins aren’t higher has meant many facilities are looking to cut corners, putting workers’ safety at risk.

Our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers know that nurses, as caregivers, deserve to have that care returned when they are injured on-the-job. Such claims may not be simple, but they are often successful with the help of an experienced attorney. If you or a loved one have been injured on the job, you need to seek help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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Apr 2017

Rhode Island Roofers and Waterproofers Face Risks of On-the-Job Injury

Roofers and waterproofers have physically demanding jobs and are often exposed to the hazardous elements. Their professions require them to work in all sorts of weather conditions and their work may be performed at high elevations, or with a variety of dangerous industrial chemicals.

Roofing Accident Attorney Rhode IslandLike most in the construction business, roofers and waterproofers face a disproportionately high risk of being hurt or killed at work. If injured while acting in the course or scope of employment, that worker may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits. In the event of a work-related death, family may be entitled to benefits as well.

These benefits can provide coverage for treating all medical conditions associated with the injuries sustained while doing roofing work or waterproofing work. Disability income is also available when injuries temporarily or permanently impact a workers’ ability to do the job. These benefits can be very important to avoiding financial loss, so any roofer or waterproofer who is injured should strongly consider talking with a workers’ compensation lawyer to understand and protect their rights.

Additionally, a lawyer may help the worker assert third-party liability in the event a non-employer on the construction site was negligent in causing the accident or contributing to the extent of one’s injuries. These third-party liability claims are not limited to lost income and coverage of medical bills the way workers’ compensation claims are. In a third-party liability lawsuit, a worker can claim non-economic damages, including those for pain and suffering.

Risks to Roofers and Waterproofers of Getting Hurt at Work

Research published by PubMed took a close look at proportionate mortality among roofers and waterproofers who are union members. The research was designed to determine if employees within these professions faced a proportionately greater risk of death than others of the same gender and demographic groups who were not working in roofing or waterproofing.

The researchers considered the toxins to which roofers were exposed that could make them sick, including asbestos and fiberglass when old roofs are being replaced and bitumen like asphalt and coal tar pitch. Researchers also considered common causes of physical injuries which could occur while a worker was on the job.

Unfortunately, a statistically significant increased mortality rate for unionized roofers and waterproofers was found for all different types of illnesses and injuries which were included in the research.

Roofers faced a much greater risk of death due to falls than other people in their same age group in other professions. They were also found to experience higher rates of lung and esophageal cancer and higher rates of cancer of the larynx.

Waterproofers and roofers were also at greater risk of non-malignant respiratory diseases as compared with people in the same demographic group in other professions.

While safe worksites can help to minimize these undesirable outcomes, the fact remains that far too many workers are putting their lives on the line in dangerous jobs. If a job does turn out to be high-risk and you are harmed as a result, you need to talk with an experienced attorney to understand your options for obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.

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Mar 2017

What Happens When a Rhode Island Independent Contractor Suffers a Workplace Injury?

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training makes it clear that independent contractors who get hurt on-the-job aren’t entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. This is true even when the injury they suffered clearly occurred in the course and scope of their work duties. workers' compensation for independent contractors

Not being able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits means that independent contractors are deprived of very important workplace protections. Workers’ comp ensures the payment of medical expenditures for an illness or for an injury that occurs due to work tasks. The benefits available through workers’ comp can be obtained by reporting a work injury. There is generally no need to file a lawsuit and there is no need to prove an employer did anything wrong to get benefits.

For an independent contractor, these automatic benefits won’t be available after the contractor is harmed while doing work, which means the contractor could struggle to pay the bills. There are circumstances in which independent contractors may be able to recover damages for work injuries, but they’d have to go through the process of filing a personal injury claim and proving liability. This would mean showing that the defendant breached some legal duty and caused the damages due to the breach.

While this is a major downside of working as an independent contractor, it is important to know that Rhode Island has very strict laws for who can be an independent contractor. If those laws were not followed and a company hired you do to do work, it’s possible the employer could actually be responsible for providing workers’ comp coverage. There are also circumstances where people who work for themselves will be eligible to purchase workers’ comp coverage and will choose to buy it so they are protected if an injury happens.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training explains the rules for workers’ comp for independent contractors. According to the department, independent contractors are “exempt from the RI Workers’ Compensation Act and are not eligible to collect benefits. For purposes of workers’ compensation, domestic employees, independent contractors, sole proprietors and partners are exempt.”

As of January 1, 2001, independent contractors are required to file a specific form, called a Notice of Designation as Independent Contractor (DWC-11-IC) form, with the Department of Labor and Training (DLT).

Rhode Island law also makes clear that just because you and your employer may believe you are an independent contractor, this isn’t enough to always make you fall within this designation.

“An independent contractor is someone who maintains an independent business and is available for hire to provide service to the public,” the Department of Labor and Training outlines.

It doesn’t matter if you and your employer both agree: If you only work for one company and that company controls how you work, you’re likely an employee and should be covered by workers’ comp.

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