Yes, seasonal employees who work only in the summer months may be eligible for workers' compensation in Rhode Island. However, like all other full-time and part-time employees, you can only receive workers' compensation benefits if your employer has workers' compensation insurance and you qualify for benefits after suffering a work-related injury.
Summer Employee Workers' Compensation Eligibility
Most Rhode Island employers with one or more employees are required to have workers' compensation insurance, but some exceptions may apply to seasonal or summer workers. For example, you may not be eligible for workers' compensation if you are:
- Under the age of 18 and work for your parent who is the sole proprietor of the business
- An agricultural or farm worker
- A domestic service employee who takes care of someone else's children or home
- A school, college, or university worker where you are enrolled and regularly taking classes
- A worker for a religious organization
Rhode Island General Law §28-29-13 requires employers with workers' compensation to post a notice in a prominent place. If you have any questions about whether your employer has workers' compensation insurance, you can verify workers' compensation coverage online with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training – Division of Workers' Compensation.
How to Calculate Workers' Compensation Benefits
In Rhode Island, workers' compensation is calculated based on your average weekly wage (AWW). For full-time, year-round workers, an employee's AWW is determined by looking at their earnings during the 13 weeks before the injury or illness that led to the workers' compensation claim.
For seasonal employees, whose employment is not continuous throughout the year, the AWW is calculated differently compared to year-round employees. Seasonal employees are defined as those who are hired to work 16 weeks or less. Instead of looking at the 13 weeks immediately preceding the injury, Rhode Island law requires workers' compensation insurers to consider all wages that the employee earned at any job in the 52 weeks before the injury. Your benefits will be calculated based on your AWW.
What to Do if You're Hurt at a RI Summer Job
Summer jobs provide you with income and experience, support the millions of tourists who visit Rhode Island, and give year-round employees a break. You deserve to be treated fairly if you are hurt on the job.
You can begin protecting your rights immediately after your workplace accident by taking the following steps:
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you get hurt while working a summer job, your health should be your top priority. Seek medical attention promptly, even if the injury seems minor. This ensures your well-being and provides documentation of the injury for your workers' compensation claim.
Report the Injury to Your Employer
It is important to inform your employer about the accident and the resulting injury as soon as possible. Follow your employer's established protocol for reporting workplace injuries. If you don't know where to start, ask your immediate supervisor or manager. This step is essential to officially document the incident and initiate the workers' compensation process.
Collect as much evidence as possible to support your workers' compensation claim. This may include taking photos of the accident scene, gathering witness statements, and documenting any safety hazards that contributed to your injury.
Maintain Detailed Records
Keep a record of all relevant documents and information related to your injury. This includes medical reports, doctor's notes, prescriptions, and communication with your employer or insurance company.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Rhode Island workers' compensation lawyer who can guide you through the complex process of filing for workers’ comp, help protect your rights, and help you navigate potential obstacles during your claim.
Follow the Prescribed Medical Treatment
It is essential to follow the medical treatment plan outlined by your health care provider.
Be Cautious With Insurance Company Interactions
Be cautious when communicating with the insurance company or their representatives. They may attempt to minimize your claim or deny it altogether. You have the right to tell the insurer that a lawyer represents you and that your lawyer will answer all questions and conduct all negotiations for you.
Seasonal employees serve an essential purpose in Rhode Island's economy, and the experienced Warwick workers' compensation lawyers at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum are here to help protect your rights.