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RI Workers' Compensation Laws

  1. Injuries Covered by Workers' Compensation
  2. Definition of Disability
  3. Weekly Compensation Benefits
  4. Reduction in Weekly Benefits
  5. Retirement
  6. Duration of Benefits
  7. Medical Care
  8. Scarring and Loss of Use
  9. Vocational Rehabilitation
  10. Reinstatement to Employment
  11. Payment of Claims/Forms
  12. Court Procedure
  13. Settlement of Claims
  14. Attorney's Fees
  15. Social Security Disability Benefits
  16. Negligence Claims

Weekly Compensation Benefits

Average Weekly Wage

An injured worker is entitled to a weekly payment as compensation for lost wages due to the inability to work. The weekly compensation rate is based on an injured worker’s average earnings before the date of disability. That average is called the average weekly wage.

For full time employees, the average weekly wage is calculated by adding the gross wages earned from all sources of employment, including self employment, for the 13 week period prior to, but not including, the week of disability. The total is then divided by the number of weeks actually worked during that period of time and the result is the average weekly wage.

For part-time employees, the average weekly wage is based on the gross wages earned during the 26 weeks prior to the injury from all sources, including self employment, divided by the number of weeks actually worked.

There are some special considerations that affect the calculation of the average weekly wage. For seasonal occupations, the average weekly wage is based on the total gross wages earned during the 52 weeks prior to the injury divided by 52. For employees who were injured after working less than two weeks weeks for an employer, the average weekly wage is based on the hourly wage multiplied by the number of weekly hours scheduled by the employer for full-time employees. Overtime pay and bonuses are averaged over the length of employment, but not more than 52 weeks. Paid vacation time is included in the calculation of the average weekly wage.

Read full text of statute » 28-33-20.

If an injured worker returns to work for at least 26 weeks, after having collected compensation for an injury, and then suffers a recurrence of disability from the previous injury, the average weekly wage for the new disability is recalculated based on the period of time prior to the date of the recurrence.

Read full text of statute » 28-33-20.1.

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Compensation Rate

An injured worker’s weekly compensate rate is equal to 75% of his/her spendable base wage, i.e., 75% of net (take-home) pay. The spendable base wage is based on tables published each year by the Department of Labor which convert the average weekly wage into the spendable base wage. View spendable base wage tables. The compensation rate may not exceed the maximum rate that is established by the State of Rhode Island on September 1 of each year. View maximum rate tables. The compensation rate is different for total disability and partial disability as follows:

Total Disability

Weekly compensation for total disability is equal to the compensation rate as stated above plus an extra $15.00 per week for each dependent. A dependent is generally defined as a non-working spouse and a child who is either under the age of 18 or under the age of 23 and enrolled as a full-time student. Also, a cost of living adjustment is added on May 10th of each year if the injured worker had received benefits for total disability for a total of at least 52 weeks. View COLA tables. Read full text of statute » 28-33-17.

Partial Disability

The compensation rate for partial disability is equal to the compensation rate only as set forth above. No additional amount is paid for dependents or cost of living adjustments. Read full text of statute » 28-33-18.

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