Employers and insurance companies call it “managing claims.” At our office, workers’ compensation lawyer Stephen J. Dennis calls it “playing tricks.” While they may not always have ill intent, it has been our firm’s experience that employers and insurers take full advantage of the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Act to limit their liability and save money.
Where does this leave families who are dependent upon these benefits? Without strong legal advocacy, the answer is not in a good place.
Mr. Dennis is a recognized advocate for injured workers, having represented clients throughout Rhode Island since 1990.
The Conservative Doctor Trick
Employers and their insurance companies will often send an injured worker to a doctor with whom they have a pre-existing relationship with. These doctors will frequently try to push injured workers back to work before they are ready, by objective standards. Doctors like this also tend to maintain close communication with the adjuster in order to coordinate a plan regarding your medical issues.
The Three-Day-Rule Trick
In order to seek workers’ compensation benefits for a lost time injury, a worker must miss three consecutive days of work as a result of his or her injuries. Most employers and insurers know this and will find ways to keep an employee working, such as assigning an injured worker to light duty work. In many cases, these workers are eventually laid off, leaving them out of work and without the right to seek weekly indemnity benefits if they need surgery or other treatment in the future.
The Non-Prejudicial Agreement Trick
One of two forms must be filed with the Department of Labor when a worker is hurt on the job: a non-prejudicial agreement or a memorandum of agreement. When an insurer feels that a claim is viable, it will file the memorandum of agreement. Meanwhile, a non-prejudicial agreement simply states that treatment will be provided to the injured worker while his or her claim is investigated. This protection lasts for up to 13 weeks, with most investigations being resolved prior to 13 weeks.
While many insurance adjusters use non-prejudicial agreements as they were intended to be used, many adjusters will begin calling doctors in the weeks prior to the protection running out, pressuring them to steer the injured worker back to work in order to avoid paying for workers’ compensation benefits.
Meanwhile, many workers assume that their claim has been accepted since they receive payments during the 13-week period. In some cases, an employee will need treatment years after the injury but will have no right to file a claim because the two-year statute of limitations has run out.
Let Our Firm Help You
To learn more about your right to workers’ compensation benefits, contact us for a free initial consultation.