The General Assembly of Rhode Island created the Workers’ Compensation Court in 1991 to provide legal assistance and resolution to disabled employees and related employers. Their mission, as stated on the judiciary website is: “To provide reliable and reasonable benefits in a just and efficient manner, with compassion and respect, to all employees who suffer a work-related injury.”
Workers’ Compensation Court is a part of the unified court system, and they resolve disputes between employers and employees in regards to compensation benefits.
Rhode Island’s Workers’ Compensation Court has a Chief Judge and nine Associate Judges. This court also hears some limited administrative agency appeals. Workers’ Compensation Court allows judges to become specialized in this legal genre to foster expertise and efficiency in resolving all legal matters.
Pretrial conferences are conducted within 21 days following the submission of an petition. From there, either side may request a trial (within five days following the pretrial conference), and then the judge will order a hearing.
The Rhode Island Judiciary website has made the Workers’ Compensation Court as user-friendly as possible to speed things along and make it easier for disabled workers to navigate the legal system more efficiently. They offer forms and procedures to make things quick and easy for self-represented litigants. The costs for filing a petition in Workers’ Compensation Court is only $20. They also offer legal resources such as connecting patrons with attorneys from the Bar Association, Court Clerk’s contact information for questions, e-filing to pay fees online or file paperwork, a list of FAQs, court calendars, a case lookup feature and rules of practice.
Workers’ Compensation Court sees about 8,000 cases per year. They can resolve about 70% of them within one month and often use mediation or arbitration to resolve the issues.