As the economy and commerce continue to flourish in the Magnolia State, so have incidents involving workplace injuries over the past few years. In 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that work injuries in Mississippi resulted in 41 fatalities, 44% of which were caused by accidents in transportation jobs. Other common causes of workplace injuries that year were slips and falls, violence by humans and animals, and contact with hazardous equipment and objects.
Back in the day, injured employees in Mississippi used to go through a lengthy and expensive process of bringing a personal injury lawsuit to prove that their employer did not help them recover compensation. This process improved when the United States passed the Workers’ Compensation Act. Mississippi then enacted the Workers’ Compensation Law so injured employees could receive benefits until they could get back to work. The Workers’ Compensation Commission office in Mississippi, located in Jackson, was established to handle claims.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance plan required by the state that employers must provide to their employees. This policy covers the injuries and illnesses that employees experience at work. Workers’ comp is paid for by employers and is used to cover medical bills and lost wages in the event of an injury.
More in-depth information about workers’ compensation laws in Mississippi will be covered in this article. It will also discuss how to file a workers’ comp claim and the steps to take in case your claim is denied.
Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Insurance Requirements
Who Are Covered
Under the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act of 1948, businesses with at least five employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If a business has fewer than five employees, workers’ compensation insurance is not mandatory but may be provided voluntarily.
LLC members, partners, and sole proprietors are not covered but may choose to be included in coverage. Corporate officers, on the other hand, are covered but may choose to be excluded if they control at least 15% of the company’s stocks.
The Mississippi Workers' Compensation Law does not apply to employees of nonprofit fraternal, charitable, or religious organizations. The same goes for independent contractors, farm workers, and domestic workers. Railroad workers are also not covered by workers’ comp but are alternatively covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability.
The state’s workers’ comp laws do not apply to federal workers, while certain maritime jobs are subject to federal compensation regulations.
Where to Purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance in Mississippi is available from private insurance firms that have been granted authority by the state to provide coverage. Businesses that are not able to acquire workers’ comp insurance from private providers may use an alternate state insurance fund called the Assigned Risk Pool.
If a business doesn’t want to purchase insurance for its legal liabilities under the Workers’ Compensation Act, it may apply to be self-insured with the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission. To qualify for self-insurance, the company must demonstrate to the MWCC that it has enough resources to fund all the compensation required by law.
Under the provisions of Mississippi Code §71-3-75, multiple businesses that wish to establish a self-insured group must be members of a legitimate trade association or trade group. They must all be located in Mississippi, too.
Accidents Outside the Workplace in Mississippi
Employees who suffer injuries outside the workplace at a mandatory social event sponsored by the company are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
The coverage also includes employees injured outside the state while doing their jobs. This applies if their work outside the state lasts less than six months.
Under Mississippi Code §71-3-83, an employer who refuses to provide workers compensation coverage can face statutory criminal and civil penalties. These include fines of up to $1,000 daily and up to one year in prison.
Additionally, any individual who provides fraudulent information to obtain benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Law can be charged with a felony. If convicted, the offender can be fined up to $5,000, or twice the amount of the fraudulent claim. They may also face jail time of up to three years.
Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Under the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Law, injuries, illnesses, and deaths of employees are covered by workers’ comp benefits if they occur while on the job. The eligibility of every worker begins on the first day of employment.
The benefits available to them are outlined below:
Medical benefits: An injured or ill employee is entitled to have their medical procedures paid for to achieve optimum recovery. Medical benefits also provide compensation for doctor fees, hospital bills, medications, and other necessary medical equipment, such as crutches. Mileage compensation is also covered.
Ongoing care benefits: If an accident results in a severe injury that requires a longer recovery, ongoing care — such as physical therapy fees and rehabilitation — is also covered.
Wage loss benefits: Injured or ill employees are entitled to receive up to two-thirds of their weekly wage and are subject to a maximum rate of $551.02. If the injury lasts 14 days, they will only receive wage benefits for the first five days. The first payment due to the employee will be available after the 14th day after the injury occurred. If the employee suffers from illness or injury for more than 14 days, wage loss payments will be available throughout the period of the disability.
Temporary total disability benefits: If an accident or injury causes a temporary total disability wherein an employee is unable to perform work duties, the benefits due are two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage. This indemnity can go on for up to 450 weeks.
Temporary partial disability benefits: An injured employee who is partially able to work before the maximum date of recovery is entitled to two-thirds of the difference between their average weekly wage before and during the injury. The benefits can go on for up to 450 weeks.
Permanent partial disability benefits: The amount due to an employee who has sustained permanent partial impairment is two-thirds of the difference between the pre-injury average weekly wage and wage-earning capacity in the same or another job.
Permanent total disability benefits: An employee who sustains permanent total disability is entitled to benefits for 450 weeks.
Death benefits: If an accident causes the death of an employee, payment will be given to their surviving spouse or dependents. These benefits will be available every 14 days and can continue for up to 450 weeks following the decedent’s passing. The amount will be based on a percentage of the decedent’s average weekly rate.
Furthermore, the employer or insurance provider is required to pay up to $5,000 in funeral expenses. They must also make an immediate payment of $1,000 to the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, each child or dependent is entitled to 25% of the deceased employee’s average weekly income. In the event that the surviving spouse remarries, the benefits will be suspended. In this case, the rate of benefit for each child will be raised from 10% to 15%.
The average weekly wage of an employee is based on their 52-week wage history before the injury occurred. To calculate the average weekly wage for an injured employee who worked fewer than 52 weeks prior to the injury, divide the gross wages by the total number of weeks worked.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Mississippi
In the event of an accident, the injured employee must promptly provide notice to their employer. Doing so in a timely manner is crucial to initiating the claims process and having a successful claim.
Under Mississippi Code §71-3-67, the employer is obliged to report the injury to the insurance carrier. The employer must also submit the First Report of Injury or Illness form to the MWCC. This must be done within 10 days of receiving the injury notice from the employee.
When Is the Deadline for Workers’ Compensation Claims in Mississippi?
According to Mississippi Code § 71-3-35, if an employee gets injured at work, they must notify their employer of the injury within 30 days in order to receive benefits. Deaths, on the other hand, must be reported within 24 hours.
There is a two-year statute for filing a claim for compensation in Mississippi. If the claim is not filed within two years from the date of the injury, the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits will be forfeited. An experienced lawyer can help injured employees understand the specifics regarding the state’s statute of limitations so that they can file their claims on time.
A Step-By-Step Guide on Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Mississippi
If an employee sustains an injury while working in Mississippi, they will need to initiate a workers’ compensation claim to recover the damages they suffered. The employee needs to follow a series of steps:
1. Report Your Injury or Illness to Your Employer
If an employee suffers an injury while performing work duties in Mississippi, they must notify their employer within 30 days of the incident. Failure to do so within the given timeframe will revoke one’s right to compensation.
2. Get Immediate Medical Care
The injured employee must be treated by a healthcare facility that is on the employer’s list of approved healthcare providers. It is crucial to get the necessary medical treatments only from a medical institution affiliated with the insurance provider to be compensated for the damages resulting from the injuries. Keep a copy of all the prescriptions, diagnoses, and hospital bills in case you need them in the future.
3. Have One’s Employer File a First Report of Injury
The employer should fill out the First Report of Injury or Illness form and then submit it to the insurance company. This report should be sent within 10 days after the occurrence of the employee’s workplace injury. The employer or insurance provider should maintain records of the injury to submit to the MWCC upon request. The information needed in the records includes the name of the employee, the venue and date of the incident, the type of injury, the number of work days missed, and the total value of medical bills.
If the injury is serious or results in permanent impairment and requires more than five days of lost time, the insurance company should file the form with the MWCC within 10 days after the prescribed waiting period of five days has been satisfied.
Under Mississippi Code §71-3-83, statutory and civil penalties apply if the employer fails to recover compensation benefits for the employee. The employee may also sue the employer for tort.
4. Await Feedback From the Insurance Provider
After receiving the notification of occupational injury from the employer, the workers’ compensation insurance provider will review the application. If approved, a notification will be made available to the injured employee, along with the amount of compensation the insurer will cover. If the employee is not satisfied with the coverage, they have the option to negotiate for a larger amount.
What Should One Do If a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Mississippi Has Been Denied?
A no-fault insurance means that regardless of who was responsible for the injury, the employees will be entitled to the benefits of this policy.
Still, there are several reasons why a workers’ comp claim is denied. It may be because the employee or employer failed to submit the claim on time, the application was incomplete, or the injury is a pre-existing condition. It could also be because the employee was intoxicated during the time of injury or the injury was self-inflicted.
If a workers’ compensation claim in Mississippi has been denied, the injured employee can file a Petition to Controvert by fulfilling Form B-511 with the MWCC. The original form, together with three copies, must be submitted within two years from the date of injury.
Afterward, informal negotiations with the insurance provider will take place to reach a settlement. If the two parties cannot reach an agreement in a private negotiation, an administrative hearing before a judge might be necessary.
If the employee does not agree with the judge’s decision, they may file an appeal to the full commission by submitting a petition for review within 20 days of the judgment. The commission will mail a written decision to the employee and the insurance provider.
If the employee is still not satisfied with the full commission’s ruling, they can file an appeal with the MWCC within 30 days. The case will then be sent to the Mississippi Supreme Court for review.
Legal Resources for Injured Workers in Mississippi
Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission
The MWCC is an agency in charge of implementing the state’s Workers’ Compensation Law. Its website contains informative details about workers’ comp in Mississippi, such as paperwork, laws, and regulations. It also discusses how to file a claim, what types of benefits are available, and how to appeal a denied claim.
On its website, you can use the Coverage Verification Inquiry feature to determine whether your employer has workers’ compensation insurance in Mississippi.
Employers and insurers can use the First Report of Injury feature to submit a report.
Individuals may also utilize the Lump Sum Calculator to determine the benefits due in cases where the claimant will receive a lump sum payment.
The website has various forms related to workers’ compensation claims.
The MWCC can be reached at 601-987-4200.
Mississippi Insurance Department
The official website of the Mississippi Insurance Department offers relevant information regarding insurance in the state that can be useful for individuals pursuing workers’ comp benefits. It also contains a comprehensive guide for workers’ compensation claims.
Mississippians who encounter problems with their insurance agent can file a report with MID. Those who have issues with their claims can also submit a complaint.
MID offers assistance with insurance matters by phone. You can call its Consumer Help Line at 800-562-2957 or 601-359-2453 for those in the Jackson Area.
The Mississippi Bar
The Mississippi Bar is a professional organization of lawyers in Mississippi. Its website provides information about workers’ comp law and serves as a resource for individuals looking for lawyers in the state.
In 2002, the Mississippi Bar established the Kid’s Chance Mediation Project to support children whose parents suffered severe injuries and fatalities at work. Later in 2023, the Kid’s Mediation Project joined with Kids’ Chance of Mississippi, Inc., a state chapter of the Kid’s Chance of America incorporated in 2022.
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