The Rhode Island General Assembly wrapped up the 2012 Legislative Session earlier this week. This year’s session has brought some important changes to R.I. statutory law, including R.I. Workers’ Compensation (“work comp”) law.
A R.I work comp lawyer deals with various issues regarding labor and labor relations. This encompasses not only work comp but also Temporary Disability Insurance (“TDI”), an area of law improved by this year’s Session.
A proposed addition to Section 28-41-6 of the R.I. General Laws relates to the simultaneous collection of work comp and TDI benefits. This bill has passed through the Senate and House of Representatives, and awaits Governor Chafee’s approval.
Previously, Section 28-41-6, titled “Effect of waiting period credit and benefits of receipt of Workers’ Compensation payments”, provided that an eligible work comp recipient would be ineligible for TDI benefits such as waiting period credit benefits or dependents’ allowances. A strict reading of this statute does not allow for any exceptions. Thus, when the R.I. Supreme Court had the opportunity to interpret 28-41-6, it said, “[I]t is abundantly clear that the General Assembly intended receipt of workers’ compensation benefits to be a complete bar to receipt of TDI benefits.” Duffy v. Powell, 18 A.3d 487, 490 (R.I. 2011).
Provided, however, that nothing shall be construed to deny benefits or waiting period credit benefits or dependents’ allowances under this chapter to individuals who receive a lump sum settlement pursuant to section 28-33-25 and subsequently apply for benefits under this chapter as long as the sickness or illness is materially different from the one for which the individual was paid workers’ compensation, is not affected by said injury and/or the medical condition did not result from the injury for which the employee was paid workers’ compensation benefits.
This helps an injured party receive benefits that he or she should rightly be entitled to. Let’s say an employee is injured on the job and receives a lump sum payment of work comp benefits. If he then suffers an unrelated injury, he can now receive TDI benefits for the second injury. Without this addition to the law, benefits could previously have been denied because the wording of the statute seemingly precluded the receipt of TDI benefits for someone who received work comp benefits.