Rhode Island lawmakers have filed legislation that would change provisions of the state’s workers’ compensation law in cases involving third-party liability.
House Bill 5508, introduced Friday, addresses cases where workers are injured in circumstances involving legal liability of individuals other than employers, and the employee seeks recovery of damages against those parties.
The measure states that any monies obtained by injured workers through judgments, settlements or awards for past or future pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of community, loss of wages and earning capacity or other damages not fully compensated by workers’ compensation shall not be replaced to a third party.
Current law states that employees who recover damages from third parties, and who are required to reimburse those parties, are entitled to withhold certain legal costs from compensation.
That provision would continue to apply.
Currently, injured workers are required to reimburse third parties when their compensation benefits exceed the damages they receive from individuals other than employers who may be partially responsible for workplace injuries.
The bill also includes a provision stating that recoverable compensation to third parties shall be reduced by any percentage of a worker̵7;s comparative negligence.
Current law states that insurers have the right to suspend employee benefits when economic damages recovered by employees exceed the compensation paid as of the date of the third-party judgment or settlement. That wording would continue to apply.
Under the bill, any dispute regarding the appropriate refund amount must be heard by the court handling the underlying third-party claim.