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Bill would amend comp reimbursement in third-party claims


Rhode Island lawmakers have introduced legislation that would amend reimbursement requirements in workers compensation claims where injured workers recover damages in third-party tort actions.

Senate Bill 1045, filed Friday, states that any money injured employees are awarded through third-party judgments or settlements that include damages for past or future pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of society, and loss of wages and earning capacity do not need to be reimbursed to comp insurers.

The measure also proposes to reduce any reimbursement amount by the percentage of an injured worker’s comparative negligence.

The bill would be applicable in cases involving third-person liability where injured employees seek damages from persons other than their employers.

Under existing law, insurers are entitled to suspend comp benefit payments to employees when damages recovered through third-party judgments or settlements exceed the amount of the comp benefits.

The bill states that any dispute regarding reimbursement apportionment must be heard in the trial court that has jurisdiction over the underlying third-party claim and not through comp proceedings.