Workers Compensation in Rhode Island

Posted December 6th, 2018 by Jason Metz

Rhode Island requires all businesses to have workers comp for employees, with just a few exceptions.

Workers compensation insurance typically helps replace some lost income and pays medical bills for an employee who's injured while performing a work-related task. Work injuries that can be covered by workers comp range from breathing problems to muscle injuries to burns.

Rhode Island workers compensation law specifies many details in terms of who must be covered, who can be exempt from coverage and certain limits of workers comp payments. Below are many of the specifics contained in the workers comp law in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training also has a page with helpful information for employers.

Who has to be covered by Rhode Island workers compensation?

Can any employees opt out of Rhode Island workers compensation with a waiver?

Yes - corporate officers can.

Is self-insurance for workers comp allowed in Rhode Island?

Yes, for individual employers and groups of employers.

By self-insuring, a business assumes responsibility for paying their own workers comp claims. A self-insured company typically hires a claims service company to handle claims administration and other services.

Are there exclusions for:

Small employers? No.

Agricultural employers? Yes, coverage is required with 25 or more farm laborers or agricultural workers employed for 13 consecutive weeks producing and raising specified crops and livestock.

Domestic employers? Yes.

Independent contractors? Yes.

Casual employees? Yes.

Volunteers? Yes.

Professional athletes? Yes.

Rhode Island workers comp medical benefits

Is there a Rhode Island workers comp fee schedule?


Fee schedules define payments for surgery, radiology, hospital services, chiropractic care, ambulance service, prescription drugs and other medical services for an injured worker.

Are there limits on medical treatment?

Yes, after reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI), palliative care is limited to 12 visits; additional care must be authorized by the employer/insurer.

Who makes the initial choice of treating physician?

The employee.

Disability payments for workers in Rhode Island

Workers comp typically helps an employee replace some of their salary when they cannot work because of a job-related injury. State laws stipulate the limits on the disability payment length and amount, based on both temporary and permanent disability.

How are temporary total disability (TTD) payments calculated?

75% of the employee's spendable, after-tax, or net weekly earnings, subject to a maximum.

Weekly minimum: None

Weekly maximum: $1,076

Maximum length of TDD benefits: For the duration of temporary total disability.

How are permanent total disability (PTD) payments calculated?

75% of the employee's spendable, after-tax, or net weekly earnings, subject to a maximum.

Weekly minimum: None

Weekly maximum: $1,076

Are there cost of living increases for PTD payments? Yes, increases by percentage of the consumer price index (U.S. city average for urban wage earners and clerical workers) each May 10 after 52 weeks of disability.

Maximum length of PTD benefits: Payable for the length of the disability and may be payable for life.

How are permanent partial disability (PPD) payments calculated?

Weekly payment based on 50% of the average weekly wage, subject to a minimum and maximum.

Weekly minimum: $90

Weekly maximum: $180

Fatality benefits under Rhode Island workers compensation law

Maximum burial benefit: $20,000

Dependency benefits, weekly minimum / maximum: None/ $1,076

When do children's dependency benefits end? At age 18; age 23 if the child is a student; benefits can continue if child is disabled.

Other injuries covered by Rhode Island workers compensation

Mental stress with no physical injury? Yes.

Cumulative trauma (such as injuries caused by repeated exposure or repetitive motion)? Yes.

Occupational hearing loss? Yes.

Disfigurement? Yes.

Source: Workers Compensation Research Institute, May 2016 report