§ 28-53-7. Payments to employees of uninsured employers.
(a) Where it is determined that the employee was injured in the course of employment while working for an employer who fails to maintain a policy of workers' compensation insurance as required by § 28-36-1 et seq., in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, the uninsured protection fund is authorized to pay the benefits to which the injured employee would be entitled pursuant to chapters 29 to 38 of this title subject to the limitations set forth herein.
(b) The workers' compensation court shall hear all petitions for payment from the fund pursuant to § 28-30-1 et seq.; provided, however, that the uninsured protection fund and the employer shall be named as parties to any petition seeking payment of benefits from the fund.
(c) Where an employee is deemed to be entitled to benefits from the uninsured protection fund, the fund shall pay benefits for incapacity as provided pursuant to chapters 29 to 38 of this title except that the employee shall not be entitled to receive benefits for medical expenses pursuant to the provisions of § 28-33-5 or loss of function and disfigurement pursuant to the provisions of § 28-33-19.
(d) The fund shall pay costs, counsel, and witness fees, as provided in § 28-35-32, to any employee who successfully prosecutes any petitions for payment; petitions to amend a pretrial order; and all other employee petitions; and to employees who successfully defend, in whole or in part, proceedings seeking to reduce or terminate any and all payments; provided, however, that the attorney's fees awarded to counsel who represent the employee in petitions for lump-sum commutation filed pursuant to § 28-33-25, or in the settlement of disputed cases pursuant to § 28-33-25.1, shall be limited to the maximum amount paid to counsel who serve as court-appointed attorneys in workers' compensation proceedings as established by rule or order of the Rhode Island supreme court. Any payment ordered by the court or due under this section shall not be subject to liens set forth in § 28-33-27(b), nor shall such payments be assignable or subject to assignment in any way.
(e) In the event that the uninsured employer makes payment of any monies to the employee to compensate the employee for lost wages or medical expenses, the fund shall be entitled to a credit for all such monies received by, or on behalf of, the employee against any future benefits payable directly to the employee. The fund shall be entitled to full reimbursement from the uninsured employer for any and all payments made to the employee, as well as all costs, counsel, and witness fees paid out by the fund in connection with any claim and/or petition, plus any and all costs and attorney's fees associated with collection and reimbursement of the fund.
(f) This section shall apply to injuries that occur on or after February 1, 2019.
(P.L. 2007, ch. 509, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 377, § 4; P.L. 2010, ch. 95, § 5; P.L. 2010, ch. 121, § 5; P.L. 2012, ch. 149, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 182, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 445, § 6; P.L. 2013, ch. 475, § 6; P.L. 2014, ch. 231, § 4; P.L. 2014, ch. 289, § 4; P.L. 2015, ch. 104, § 4; P.L. 2015, ch. 116, § 4; P.L. 2016, ch. 470, § 3; P.L. 2016, ch. 473, § 3; P.L. 2017, ch. 106, § 2; P.L. 2017, ch. 266, § 2; P.L. 2018, ch. 86, § 5; P.L. 2018, ch. 98, § 5.)