You are injured at work. Your medical bills are being paid by your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company. You are receiving a weekly check from your employer or the insurance company. Why would I need a lawyer? Here’s why.
Non-Prejudicial Agreement For A Rhode Island Work InjuryIn Rhode Island, the employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company can acknowledge an employee’s claim in one of two ways: by a Non-Prejudicial Agreement or by a Memorandum of Agreement. An employee may be receiving weekly benefit checks and believe that he or she is “all set.” However, if the insurance company filed a Non-Prejudicial Agreement, it does not mean that at all. In fact, on the actual form, in small print at the bottom, it says: “The employer and insurer are NOT accepting legal responsibility for your work injury. You have two (2) years to file a petition at the Workers' Compensation Court to establish liability.” The law allows an employer or insurer to pay an employee weekly benefits for up to thirteen (13) weeks without accepting legal responsibility for the injury. If the employee returns to work within those 13 weeks, the liability for the injury will never have been established, and therefore, the employee’s rights are not protected. Having a lawyer will ensure that liability is accepted and that the employee can seek treatment into the future for his or her injury.
Memorandum of AgreementOn the other hand, the employer or insurer may file a Memorandum of Agreement, which is a document that does confirm acceptance of liability. The question then becomes if my employer or insurer filed a Memorandum of Agreement, and my claim is accepted, why would I need a lawyer? Again, merely because the liability is accepted does not obviate the need for a lawyer. There are countless issues that may arise in connection with a workers’ compensation claim. For example, the employee may be receiving a weekly check. However, is the amount of the check correct? The amount an employee is entitled to weekly is based upon an average weekly wage, the employee’s marital status and whether the employee has dependents. Weekly wages are also different depending on if the employee is totally disabled or partially disabled. An experienced workers’ compensation will be able to assist an employee facing this situation.
When Can You Return To Work Following A Workers' Compensation Claim In Rhode Island?Another common issue that arises in a workers’ compensation claim concerns the return to work by the employee. At some point in the employee’s recovery from the work injury, he or she may be able to perform light duty work. The employee may receive a call from the employer saying that there is light duty work available. Merely because light duty work is available, does this obligate the employee to return to work? What if the employee does not feel capable of doing the proposed work? Does the employee’s physician agree that the employee is able to do that light duty job? Even if the employee can perform light duty, were the proper steps taken to make certain that if the employee ultimately cannot do the job, he or she can once again collect weekly benefits? A lawyer can answer these questions and take the appropriate action to assist the employee.
Employees may not be aware that an employer or insurance company can arrange for an employee to see a doctor that they choose. This is referred to as an independent medical examination. What happens if the employee goes to the independent medical examination and that doctor says he or she can return to work? This becomes a problem if the employee’s own doctor disagrees and finds that the employee cannot return to work. Will an employee’s workers’ compensation benefits end because the so-called independent doctor says the employee is no longer disabled? Again, these are the intricacies of the workers’ compensation system that require the knowledge of a lawyer who can safeguard an employee’s rights.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In Rhode Island?
If you've been hurt at work you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help work injury victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.