57 RI Bar J., No. 4, Pg 5. Attorney Practice Guide: Workers' Compensation.

AuthorAram P. Jarret III, Esq., Paul V. Mancini, Esq. & Hon. Robert M. Ferrieri

Rhode Island Bar Journal

Volume 57.

57 RI Bar J., No. 4, Pg 5.

Attorney Practice Guide: Workers' Compensation

Rhode Island Bar Journal57 RI Bar J., No. 4, Pg. 5 January/February 2009 Attorney Practice Guide: Workers' CompensationAram P. Jarret III, Esq., Paul V. Mancini, Esq. & Hon. Robert M. FerrieriAttorney Jarret is a member and Attorney Mancini is a Committee Co-Chair of the Rhode Island Bar Association's Workers' Compensation Committee, Hon. Ferrieri is an Associate Judge in the Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Court.


The Rhode Island Workers' Compensation system, like most states' systems, is designed with the understanding that insurers will provide compensation benefits to an injured employee in accordance with state law, specifically, the Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Act (Act). Typically, each claim is assigned to an insurance claims handler and/or the insurer's legal counsel to determine which, if any, benefits are due the injured employee. The insurer is under no legal obligation to inform the injured employee of the rights or benefits provided under the Act. Accordingly, attorney involvement on behalf of the employee is essential.

The Law

Workers' Compensation practice is statute specific. A practitioner should become familiar with Chapters 29-53 of Title 28 of the Rhode Island General Laws (RIGL).

The Court also has its own local procedural rules: The Workers' Compensation Court Rules of Practice, as amended.

Intake and General Considerations

Do you have a RI workers' compensation claim?

_ Rhode Island Jurisdiction is a prerequisite: Place of Injury or Place of Hire: An injured employee may bring a claim in RI if the employee was hired in RI or was injured in RI. See R.I. Gen. Laws 28-29-1.3 Thus, an employee hired in RI but injured in another state may file a claim in RI. Likewise, an employee who may live and work outside of RI, but is injured within the state of RI, can file a claim in RI.

_ Statute of Limitations:

An employee has two years to file a claim from the first date of disability (which may differ from the date of the actual injury). At intake, determine the first day that the employee came out of work due to the injury.

_ Is the client an employee or an independent contractor?

Only employees are covered under the Act. A worker deemed an "independent contractor" is not an employee and is precluded from collecting workers' compensation benefits. If this is an issue in your claim, check with the Rhode Island Department of Labor to see if there is Notice of Designation on file wherein the employer has designated that a particular worker is an independent contractor. See R.I. Gen. Laws 28-29-17.1.

Is the client's injury compensable under the Act?

Injuries which occur under certain circumstances are excluded from the Act:

_ Coming and Going Rule: As a general rule, if the employee was injured while coming or going to work, the injury is not considered in the course of employment and is not covered.

_ Horseplay: An injury occurring during horseplay at work is not considered within the course of employment and is not compensable.

_ Intoxication or Intentional Act: An injury intentionally caused by the injured worker or due to the employee's intoxication is not compensable.

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