CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Department of Labor and Training and the Attorney General’s office are advising employers and workers to avoid a look-alike website offering information on workers’ compensation coverage.
The look-alike website has downloaded many of the required administrative forms from the DLT’s and Workers’ Compensation Court’s websites and is presenting them as its own resources under a sidebar titled “Helpful Links & Forms.”
The DLT says that even though RhodeIslandWorkersCompensation.org looks like an official state website, it’s actually just advertising a for-profit legal referral business that is giving out bad information.
The following are some of the site’s most serious mistakes, with links to the accurate information found on DLT’s site:
- Claim: “If you or a loved one is injured on the job, you are entitled to Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation benefits, regardless of who is at fault.” Fact: Although workers’ comp is a form of no-fault insurance designed to help employees injured at work pay for medical expenses and make up lost wages, an employer’s insurance carrier is not going to pay a claim for an accident resulting from, for example, an employee drinking on the job. Click here for detailed injured worker information.
- Claim: “If you suffer an injury at work, it is basically always covered by insurance and considered a valid claim.” Fact: Wrong. As the drinking-on-the-job example cited above shows, a worker’s judgment and decision-making factor into whether a claim is paid or not. Also, sometimes workers fake injuries on the job. Not only would these workers not be paid workers’ comp benefits, but if investigated, prosecuted, and convicted of fraud. They also could pay criminal penalties of up to $50,000. Click here for information on workers’ comp fraud. And as Director Jensen stated above, not all employers carry workers’ compensation coverage, which can have tragic consequences for workers. There are civil and administrative penalties that can be imposed for each day of noncompliance. To report employers not carrying workers’ comp coverage, click here.
- Claim: “For a work-related injury, you are eligible for weekly wages for any of the injuries listed below: Injuries caused during breaks, lunch hours, and work-sponsored activities (such as a company picnic, group exercise activities)…” Fact: If during a lunch break, an employee were to leave the workplace and drive to a restaurant where he is injured after slipping and falling, he would not be eligible for weekly workers’ comp benefits. No-fault insurance does not mean there are no rules or that coverage is universal.
- Claim: Under the “Do I have a Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Claim?” section, it states, “If a Rhode Island Employee is injured on the job due to physical injury, he or she typically fills out a form at work that starts a…claim.” Under its “Begin the Claims Process” section, it says: “Contact us and complete a claim form. No matter how your employer learns of the incident, it must offer you a claim form immediately. Until this claim form is completed, the employer has no obligation to provide you benefits. Make sure the claim form is filled out completely…” Fact: Workers have no part in filing a workers’ comp claim. This is the employers’ responsibility. Employers must notify their insurance company of an injury by electronically filing the First Report of Injury through the EDI, mentioned above. The insurance company must electronically report the injury to DLT within 10 days of an injury requiring medical treatment or preventing a worker from earning full wages for at least three days.
- Claim: “The best way to know is to call us…and speak with a Workers’ Compensation Claim Specialist.” Fact: The RI workers’ comp system is not nearly as adversarial as this website wants visitors to believe. Ninety percent of all claims are not contested and are handled administratively as a matter of protocol. If litigation results from a contested claim, the Workers’ Compensation Court exists to resolve disputes. If workers or employers have any questions about this essential and legally required insurance coverage, please call the Workers’ Comp Education Unit at DLT at 401-462-8100, option 1, or email DLT.WCEDCUnit@dlt.ri.gov.