Indemnity Benefits in Mississippi
If you’ve been injured on the job, you have a right to claim workers’ compensation benefits. All states, including Mississippi, have laws in place to protect workers. There are two types of workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers: Medical benefits and Indemnity (wage replacement) benefits.
While the medical benefits often cover all necessary medical expenses related to the workplace injury, indemnity benefits typically only cover a portion of your lost wages. For this reason, injured workers need to work with an experienced attorney to ensure they fully understand how much wage replacement they are eligible for and get the full amount they are owed. It is not uncommon for employers or insurance companies to fight against workers’ comp claims to reduce amounts owed to injured workers.
The Mississippi workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC help injured workers get the benefits they are entitled to after an on-the-job injury. Our lawyers represent ironworkers, construction workers, truck drivers, general laborers, firefighters, and first responders injured on the job. Learn more about Mississippi indemnity benefits below, and contact Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC if you have any questions.
Understanding Mississippi Workers’ Compensation and Indemnity Benefits
Workers’ Compensation laws are considered a no-fault system, meaning that injured workers have a right to file a claim and receive benefits without the need to prove fault. Indemnity benefits specifically are available through workers’ compensation and help cover lost wages due to an injured employee’s inability to work. Essentially, indemnity benefits are a type of disability benefit.
Unfortunately, these benefits do not cover all lost wages. Injured workers are only eligible to receive ⅔ of their average weekly wage made four weeks before the accident. That ⅔ average of your weekly salary is what you will receive each week you are disabled and unable to work.
Who is Eligible for Indemnity Benefits?
Employers with five or more employees in the state of Mississippi must have workers’ compensation coverage. If they have fewer than five, they may still provide coverage voluntarily, but it is not required. Mississippi does not require a minimum salary for workers to be eligible for benefits; however, they do have certain types of workers that are not eligible. Such employees include:
- Independent contractors
- Farm laborers
- Non-profit employees
- Domestic laborers
- Employees of religious organizations
- Cultural organization employees
Additionally, transportation workers, maritime workers, and federal employees are not eligible for state compensation benefits as they have their own private workers’ comp systems.
Types of Indemnity Benefits in Mississippi
There are four types of indemnity disability benefits available to those who are suffering from a workplace injury or illness:
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD): An injured employee who cannot work due to a workplace illness or injury is eligible to receive ⅔ of their average weekly income, up to the state max for the year of the injury, until their physician says they can return to work.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD): Injured workers that are under work restrictions and are unable to earn their full pre-injury salary can receive ⅔ of the difference between their post-injury wage and their pre-injury wage while undergoing treatment for the injury.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD): An injured worker who loses the use of a body part or has a limb amputated but can still work in some capacity will be eligible to receive ⅔ of their weekly income up to 450 weeks, contingent on the percentage of their determined disability. This amount is determined differently depending on the specific body part and can become very complicated. There is never a simple explanation for this value.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD): Injured workers that are fully disabled and unable to ever return to work can receive ⅔ of their average weekly income for up to 450 weeks or as a lump sum.
Indemnity Death Benefits
When a death occurs due to a work-related injury or illness, the deceased worker’s family may be entitled to claim death benefits in the form of lost wages. Typically, the family has two years from the date of the deceased’s last treatment for their injury or illness to claim these benefits. The spouse or children of the deceased worker can receive indemnity benefits equal to what the employee themselves would have received; however, the actual calculations can become very complicated.
How Long Do Indemnity Benefits Last?
There is no set time limit for indemnity benefits as it depends on the specific type of disability benefits you are receiving. Generally, TTD benefits are the most common in workers’ comp claims, and those will only last as long as you are unable to work and are still receiving treatment from your doctor for the work injury.
Once you have reached maximum improvement, you will return to work, and your benefits will terminate, or you may be considered permanently disabled. If you are permanently disabled, you can receive wage replacement benefits for up to 450 weeks. For partial disabilities that are permanent, you can receive a certain amount for a specific number of weeks according to the schedule set by the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission.
How Much Money Do You Get From Indemnity Benefits in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, the weekly benefit amount is determined by taking ⅔ of your average weekly income from the fifty-two weeks prior to the injury occurring. That ⅔ amount is what you will receive each week for a length of time determined based on which type of disability benefits you are receiving, subject to the maximum compensation rate for that year. 2021’s maximum compensation rate is $523.16.
It’s important to note that the ⅔ is based on gross wages, which is the amount an employee earns before deductions, such as taxes. If the injured worker is salaried, the gross wages would be determined for the fifty-two weeks prior to their injury based on their annual salary. If an injured worker is an hourly employee, the gross wages would be determined based on the wages they earned for the hours they worked in those four full weeks before the injury. If the employee is given other benefits of value, those can be added into the calculation to increase the average weekly wage calculation.
Steps to Take to File for Indemnity Benefits
To ensure that you fulfill all requirements necessary to have your workers’ compensation indemnity benefits approved, be sure to follow these steps:
- Notify Employer: After any workplace accident or injury, or if you have been diagnosed with an occupational disease, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. This notification will likely be either to your supervisor or to a person designated by the company to receive workers’ compensation notices. Mississippi requires that you report the accident within 30 days, but the sooner you notify your boss, the sooner the claims process will get rolling.
- Employer Files Claim: Once the employer is notified, the state and the company’s insurance carrier will be notified. In Mississippi, the employer files with the Workers’ Compensation Commission (MWCC) in Jackson and also notifies its workers’ comp carrier.
- Appeal to Agency: In the best-case scenario, you will soon start to receive wage replacement benefits, and the insurer will cover your medical bills. If there is a dispute and benefits are not being paid, you may need to file a petition to controvert your claim with the MWCC. In Mississippi, you have two years from the injury to file a claim with the MWCC. This process is started by filing a petition to controvert.
- Appeal to Court: Filing a petition will lead to multiple hearings before an administrative law judge. In Mississippi, you can appeal the judge’s order by appealing to the Full Commission within 20 days of the judge’s order. The Full Commission may review records filed by the parties, or it may hold another hearing. If dissatisfied with the Full Commission result, you have 30 days to appeal to the Mississippi Court of appeals if you choose.
The further you go in the workers’ compensation process, the more technical and complicated the steps become, and the more critical it is to have an experienced workers’ comp lawyer representing you. Retaining a lawyer immediately will help you get your benefits sooner, and it will help you avoid making mistakes that will devalue your claim. Our dedicated workers’ comp lawyers can help you at any and every stage of the workers’ compensation process in Mississippi.
An Experienced Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
Dealing with a temporary or permanent disability due to a workplace injury can be traumatizing. Not only do workers have to deal with the emotional trauma they experience after sustaining their injury, but they also have to deal with the financial burden that comes with being unable to work.
Our professional, dedicated team has years of experience practicing exclusively in the area of workers’ compensation law. We’ll take on the task of making sure you get your indemnity benefits promptly and fully paid, including appealing claim denials if necessary.