Accidents can happen in the workplace at any time. As an employer, you are required by Rhode Island law to ensure that your employees have adequate protection in case they are injured on the job. Workers’ compensation insurance in Rhode Island caters for medical expenses and lost wages when employees are injured on the job. The law requires that employers have workers compensation insurance to cater for these eventualities.

Who is eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits?

Employees who are covered and injured at work or become ill from working may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you suffer an injury or illness that is not work-related there are programs that can cater for this; this includes Social Security Disability or Temporary Disability Insurance

Where do you buy workers’ compensation insurance?

You can buy workers compensation insurance online through an insurance provider, or you can work with an agent to get connected. There are many insurance carriers in Rhode Island who provide workers’ compensation insurance. Beacon Mutual Insurance Company is the carrier of last resort in Rhode Island. This means that if you can’t get workers’ compensation insurance from another carrier Beacon Mutual Insurance should cover you.

What you should know about workers’ compensation insurance in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, every person, firm, public and Private Corporation, including the state, that regularly employs people is subject to workers’ compensation law. In this state, persons exempt from compensation law include; Independent contractors, sole proprietors, partners, some real estate employees, agricultural and domestic service employees may be exempt. Any person appointed corporate officer between January 1st, 1999 and December 31st, 2001 who was not previously an employee of the corporation is exempt from compensation law but can elect to be covered by filing the DWC- 11C form.

Are there any disclosure requirements?

All employers must disclose to prospective employees if they are subject to or exempt from workers’ compensation. If they are exempt, they must disclose the specific type of exemption.

How much does workers’ compensation insurance cost?

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) regulates workers’ compensation in Rhode Island. This is an independent body that manages workers’ compensation. It has developed a classification depending on the risks and injuries associated with the job. The riskier the profession, the more it costs to buy workers’ compensation insurance. In Rhode Island, per $100 in wages employers on average pay $1.10.

What is the cost of not getting workers’comp?

Every employer is looking for ways to cut on costs, and some may think it is an unnecessary expense especially when the work environment does not predispose workers to a lot of risk. In Rhode Island any employer found guilty of violating workers’ compensation insurance law can be charged with a criminal offense and a fine and/or penalty of up to $50,000 or double the fraud whichever is greater or imprisonment of up to five years in state prison or both.

What are the factors that impact coverage?

In Rhode Island employers with one or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, some exceptions include: Sole proprietors, partners, certain real estate, agricultural and domestic service employees. Federal employees, police, and firefighters are covered under different compensation programs. Municipal employees are only covered if the municipality chooses to be covered. In this state independent contractors are not covered.

  • Waivers:

    Corporate officers are usually considered employees and covered unless one files a waiver form, Notice of Claim of Common Law Rights (DWC-11). Injured employees who have filed the DWC-11 are not covered for workers’ compensation, and their health care provider does not cover them for medical expenses related to work injuries. If you are an employee who has filed the DWC 11 you can sue your employer in civil court for damages from work-related injuries.

  • Independent contractor:

    This is someone who operates an independent business and avails his services to the public. Such a person is not eligible for compensation benefits entitled to people who hire workers. If in this position you must file a Notice of Designation as an independent contractor Form (DWC – 11 -1c) with the Department of Labor and Training to be considered for workers’ compensation.

  • Reporting insurance policy information:

    In Rhode Island, insurance carriers are required to report any changes in the compensation policy.

  • Posters:

    Employers are required to display the state poster which indicates their insurance carrier.

  • Reporting injuries:

    As an employer, you are required to report work injuries to the workers’ compensation insurance company. The insurance company must report an injury that requires medical treatment or prevents an injured employee from earning full wages for at least three calendar days within 10 days after it occurs. If it is a fatal injury, the report must be made within 48 hours. Even if as an employer you have questions on the validity of an injury you must report it to the insurance company.

Can an employer be accused of workers’ compensation fraud?

The workers’ compensation court is mandated to impose sanctions and penalties on defaulting employers. It is unlawful for an employer to deliberately misrepresent or fail to disclose information to an insurer to be insured at lower rates. It is also illegal to make or cause a false statement to obtain or deny compensation, and to fail to declare earnings during payment of compensation benefits. Other illegal or fraudulent activities include: Deliberately making false statements regarding an employee’s rights and benefits, assisting, coercing or conspiring with an employee to represent their status as an independent contractor or corporate officer to avoid workers’ compensation coverage or to decrease the premium.

Who do you contact if you have questions about workers’compensation?

In Rhode Island, if you have questions on workers’ compensation you are advised to contact the education unit.

As an employer, you are charged with the responsibility of keeping your employees safe. If they are injured or get ill on the job, their medical bills become your responsibility. This is why workers’ compensation law in Rhode Island requires that employers carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. This coverage caters for medical, death, disability and wage replacement associated with the injury or illness.

Though some jobs expose workers to more hazards than others, it is critical that you get acquainted with workers’ comp laws in Rhode Island. By doing this you will ensure that you comply with all workers’ compensation laws and requirements, this will help you to avoid being penalized for infringing workers’ compensation laws.