Mississippi Workers Compensation

Mississippi workers compensation is a no-fault insurance plan mandated by the Mississippi Workers Compensation Act. It is paid for by employers, who must purchase insurance from a company or obtain approval to self-insure. The law provides for prompt payment of benefits, but as a trade-off, it prevents injured workers from being able to sue their employers for damages, including compensation for pain and suffering. The process of claiming Mississippi workers compensation benefits is supervised and monitored by the Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission.

If you have suffered an injury or developed an illness due to hazardous conditions at your work, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits in the form of medical treatment and income replacement for lost wages.

Who is eligible for Mississippi Workers Compensation?

Most workers are protected by the Mississippi Workers Compensation Act. If you are the employee of a business with five or more regular employees, you will be covered for workers’ compensation insurance. However, if you have a different work arrangement, you may not be covered under the Mississippi Workers Comepnsation law. The exceptions to the insurance mandate include:

  • Employers with fewer than five employees can choose to provide workers’ compensation, but they are not required to do so.
  • Employers in domestic and farm labor, or non-profit fraternal, charitable, religious or cultural organizations are not required to cover their employees, but they can voluntarily opt into insurance programs.
  • Federal employees or certain transportation and maritime employees are already covered by federal compensation laws, and do not qualify for Mississippi workers compensation.
  • Independent contractors are usually excluded from coverage. However, employees of subcontractors remain eligible for special protection.

Which injuries are covered under Mississippi workers compensation insurance?

Any injury, whether it is relatively minor or extremely serious, is covered if it arises out of the “course and scope of employment.” Illnesses and diseases that result from occupational hazards are covered, as is accidental death. The injury does not need to occur on your employer’s property; it can also be a work-related injury that occurs while you are carrying out a task that benefits your employer or acting within the scope of your employment.

When does my Mississippi workers compensation insurance coverage begin?

Workers are covered starting from day one on the job. There is no minimum earnings requirement or waiting period, so as soon as you begin employment, you are eligible for Mississippi workers compensation benefits in case of an injury.

Would my family members be eligible to receive benefits if something were to happen to me?

The Mississippi Workers Compensation Law guarantees that surviving spouses and certain dependents will receive benefits following the death of their loved one.

Overview of Benefits

In Mississippi, there are two types of benefits available to injured workers: medical benefits and wage loss benefits.

Medical Benefits

Medical benefits that are due to injured workers include:

  • Medical Services: An injured worker is entitled to any reasonable and necessary medical services that are required to treat their injury. These services include doctor and hospital visits, nursing services, medication, physical therapy, and any apparatus or device that is needed to help you recover.
  • Rehabilitation: Certain rehabilitation services are also covered.
  • Travel Expenses: Costs incurred for trips to the doctor are also eligible for reimbursement, based on the mileage that you must travel to get care. Current reimbursement rates can be found on the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission website.

You can choose your own doctor

Injured workers have the right to select any medical provider or doctor of their choice. A chosen provider may refer the worker to another specialist to continue treatment, without needing to get approval from the employer or its insurance carrier. Beyond this initial referral, any further referrals of choices of physician must be approved in advance. Healthcare professionals who can be chosen to provide services are not limited to medical doctors.

You are not required to pay deductibles

Workers do not need to pay deductibles for any medical benefits received. Employers may arrange to pay deductibles to their insurance company, but workers’ compensation benefits are always provided at no cost to the employee.

No waiting period for medical expenses

There is no waiting period applied to medical benefits. They are paid regardless of the number of days that the injured worker must miss work.

Wage Loss Benefits

If you are required to miss work because of your on-the-job injury, you are entitled to recover lost wages. Mississippi workers compensation law allows injured workers to be compensated for lost wages at a rate of two-thirds of their average weekly wage. However, each year the state sets a maximum level for weekly workers’ compensation. In 2015, this amount is $463.59 each week. So, if you were earning $600 a week, you would be entitled to collect up to $400. However, if you were earning $1000 a week, your entitlement would be capped at $463.59 per week, even though this is less than two thirds of your average weekly earnings. Wage loss benefits are tax-free.

The actual amount of benefits that you could be eligible for depends on the nature of your injury and the duration of its impact on your ability to work. Mississippi workers compensation benefits can be paid to compensate your temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, or permanent total disability.

Permanent total disability

If you are unable to return to any job because of your injury, you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits in the amount of two thirds of your average weekly pay for up to 450 weeks. Loss of both hands, both arms, both feet, both legs, both eyes, or of any two of these is considered permanent total disability by default. For all other injuries, permanent total disability is determined based on the facts of the situation.

Temporary total disability

During the time that an injured worker is unable to work or earn full pay, and is recovering under the care of a doctor, he or she is eligible to receive temporary disability payment, in the amount of two thirds of the average weekly wages. Once the employee has reached the maximum medical recovery, his or her benefits will end. If there is a disagreement between the employee and the employer or its insurance company about whether the employee has recovered, the employee can request a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Permanent partial disability

After a period of recovery during which you can receive temporary total disability payments, you may be recovered sufficiently to return to work. If your injury allows you to return to work, but prevents you from earning as much as you had been earning before the injury, you could be owed benefits amounting to two thirds of the difference in your pre-injury and post-injury wages. For injuries resulting in less than a permanent and total disability, the limitation on payments varies in relation to the nature of the injury and disability.

Time limits on receiving benefits

Wage loss benefits are paid at least every 14 days, for as long as the covered injury persists, subject to a maximum time limit of 450 weeks. Because of this time limit, the maximum overall amount that a worker can currently be compensated for lost wages is $208,615.50.

Waiting period for wage loss benefits

If your injury causes you to miss fewer than 14 days of work, wage loss benefits payments are not made for the first 5 days. Payment will be made only for the number of days of disability beyond the fifth day. This is known as the 5 day waiting period. If you suffer 14 or more days of disability, then you would be entitled to wage loss payments for the total period of your disability, including the first 5 days.

Additional benefits in case of death

If an on-the-job injury results in death, the employer must pay up to $5,000.00 in funeral expenses, in addition to an immediate payment of $1,000.00 to the surviving spouse.

Overview of the claims/litigation process

If you are injured on the job, you should immediately notify your employer or a supervisor. Under the Mississippi workers compensation laws, you must report your injury to your employer within 30 days. If you don’t report in time, you could lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits, or your receipt of benefits payments could be delayed.

Seek prompt medical attention after your injury. You should let the healthcare professional who treats you know that you have been injured on the job, since this information can be used to support your claim if it is contested by your employer or their insurance company. After you have reported your injury, your employer is required to notify its insurance company and file a report detailing your injury with the Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission. It is important to note that any claim for benefits must be filed with the Commission within two years of your injury. If you wait longer than this to file your claim, your right to any benefits could be barred. This is known as the two-year statute of limitations.

Note that if you are a young worker, under age 21, you cannot file a claim directly with the Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission, even though you may qualify for workers’ compensation. As a minor under Mississippi law, your claim must first go through the chancery court, which deals with all cases involving the determination of the best interests of minors.

If your claim is accepted, it will be paid by the employer or its insurance carrier. Medical payments should be made directly to the doctor or other medical provider, and wage loss payments should be made directly to you or your legal representative. If your employer is not cooperating with you, and is stalling or refusing to file your claim with the Commission, you may need to seek the help of an attorney to ensure that you can access your entitlements.

If you are denied benefits by the Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission, you have 30 days to file an appeal in the circuit court of your county. The appeals process can be complex and lengthy, and the advice of an experienced Mississippi workers compensation lawyer can be invaluable in making it go smoothly.

Sending us information about your potential case does not mean we will automatically represent you – you are telling us about your situation in order for us to evaluate whether we believe you have a case which we may choose to handle on your behalf. We will review your circumstances and let you know as soon as possible whether we can discuss your potential case with you further. The information you give us is confidential and can’t be shared with anyone outside of our office.