Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you’ve been injured on the job, you have a right to claim workers’ comp benefits. All states, including Mississippi, have laws in place to protect workers. Unfortunately, insurance companies and even employers will sometimes look for ways to deny a claim or, at the very least, reduce the amount owed, to avoid having to pay so much money every time an employee is injured. Due to these backhanded attempts, it is often necessary to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve.
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 who have been injured on the job. Learn more about Mississippi workers’ compensation below, and contact Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC if you’ve been injured at work.
Understanding Mississippi Work Comp Laws
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. These laws are in place to protect both employees and their employers. It protects employers by keeping them from getting sued, and it protects employees by providing them medical and wage benefits if they become ill or injured on the job.
Unlike compensation for other types of personal injury claims that cover damages such as pain and suffering, workers’ comp benefits only cover medical expenses and loss of wages. It does, however, cover both short and long-term needs. For example, it covers any upfront medical costs as well as any treatments, therapy, or rehabilitation needed down the road as a result of the illness or injury. Additionally, wage benefits cover both loss of income right after the incident occurs as well as future loss of income if the injury affects your earning capacity and ability to return to work in the following months or even years.
Who is Eligible for Workers’ Comp 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, but 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.
What Types of Injuries and Accidents Are Covered?
Mississippi workers’ compensation benefits cover any injury or illnesses that result from work done on the job. This includes all work-related occupational illnesses and diseases, as opposed to only traumatic accidents such as ladder falls or machinery malfunctions. A work-related death is also compensable with workers’ comp benefits.
At Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, our Mississippi workers’ compensation lawyers handle a variety of different types of claims for injured workers. While any number of illnesses and injuries can result from work-related incidents, some of the more common ones we see include:
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
- First responder illnesses, such as cancer or heart and lung diseases
Most work-related injuries or illnesses are very obviously a result of work performed while on the job, but this is one of the main areas that workers’ comp insurers will try to dispute. This is why it is extremely beneficial to work with a workers’ comp attorney. We know how insurers will try to get out of paying benefits and can help guide you through the process to ensure you are awarded the full amount of benefits you deserve.
What Benefits Are Available Through Work Comp in Mississippi?
The two main types of workers’ comp benefits available to employees include medical expenses and wage replacement:
Medical benefits – Workers’ compensation is designed to help pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury. These payments may include doctor and hospital bills, prescription medications, and medical supplies such as crutches, wheelchairs, or prostheses. Healthcare providers should bill the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and leave you out of the loop. You are also entitled to mileage reimbursement for traveling to and from your doctor’s appointments.
Wage replacement – If you are unable to work, you can receive two-thirds of your regular wages, subject to a maximum weekly amount. You should be able to receive these benefits for as long as necessary until your doctor certifies you have reached maximum medical improvement. If you can work part-time or on a light-duty assignment that pays less than 90% of your normal wages, you can receive supplemental earning benefits. These benefits amount to two-thirds of the difference between your regular and reduced wages, subject to the weekly maximum.
Other wage loss benefits are available to those who are permanently disabled. If you are totally and permanently disabled, meaning you can’t work in any job, you can receive two-thirds of your regular wages (subject to the weekly maximum) for the entire length of your disability. Permanent total disability benefits are only available for the most severely debilitating injuries, such as the loss of both hands, arms, feet, legs, or eyes.
At Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, our Mississippi workers’ compensation attorneys can help you with every stage of the workers’ compensation process, including what to do if your claim is denied. Navigating the Mississippi workers’ comp system on your own can be frustrating at best and unsuccessful at its worst; let our legal professionals take on this task for you and see that you get the benefits you need and deserve. Workers’ compensation is all we do.
Filing a Mississippi Workers’ Comp Claim
Your employer should have information about how to file a claim posted somewhere in the workplace, but it may also be included in something like an employee handbook along with other workplace rules and guidelines. The information posted should inform you about who to notify in case of a workplace accident, injury, or illness.
In many cases, the information provided will make it seem like all you have to do is make a call, and the rest is taken care of for you. Unfortunately, this information is very basic, and there is often more to it. These basic posters are often designed to purposely leave out useful information in the hopes that employees will improperly file a claim and miss important steps that are required to be approved for benefits.
If you want to take the stress and worry off your shoulders so you can focus on getting better without struggling to get the benefits you need, call the workers’ compensation attorneys at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC. We are specifically dedicated to handling workers’ compensation cases. Our professional team can advise and represent you at every stage of the workers’ compensation process, helping you get your benefits fully paid sooner rather than later.
What Steps Should I Take to File a Work Comp Claim?
To ensure that you fulfill all requirements necessary to have your workers’ compensation 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 either be 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 (WCC) 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 claim with the WCC. In Mississippi, you have two years from the injury to file a claim with the WCC to appeal a denial by the insurer. This process is started by filing a petition to controvert.
- Appeal to Court: Filing an appeal will lead to a hearing before an administrative law judge. In Mississippi, you can appeal the judge’s order by appealing to the Full Commission within 20 days. 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 Circuit Court or the Mississippi Supreme Court 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 sooner may help you get your benefits sooner, and it will also cost less to resolve your claim without having to go to court. Our dedicated workers’ comp lawyers can help you at any and every stage of the workers’ compensation process.
Reasons Why Workers’ Comp Claims Get Denied
Some of the most common reasons for workers’ compensation claim denials include:
- Injuries are not severe enough: While workers should file a claim no matter how small the injury, it can still get denied if it doesn’t meet certain standards — for example, if no medical treatment is necessary or if it does not affect your daily life or your ability to return to work.
- The injury and/or claim was not reported in time: State laws determine how long you have to initially report the incident to your employer as well as how much time you have to then file an official claim. If either of these deadlines is not met, the employer or the insurance may deny your claim.
- False claims or disputes that the injury was work-related: If you lie about anything relating to your injury, even if it did still happen on the job, your claim could be denied. Additionally, some employers and insurance companies will try to find proof or evidence to say that the injury was not work-related and happened elsewhere.
- The injury is related to a pre-existing condition: A common basis for denial is that you had a pre-existing condition that is the true source of your ailment. When this isn’t the case, we can help you prove it by producing medical records from before and after the accident and introducing evidence of your lifestyle before the accident. If a workplace injury aggravated a pre-existing condition, you might be entitled to compensation for aggravation of the condition.
- Delayed medical treatment: After sustaining a workplace injury, the injured worker needs to seek medical attention right away, even if the injury was minor. Lack of medical evidence can lead to a denial. Even if you decide to seek treatment at a later date, it may still be difficult to prove that the injury did not worsen or initially occur from something else outside of work.
- Intoxication or willful intent: In some cases, employers may deny a workers’ comp claim if the employee was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time of the injury. This includes the abuse of legally prescribed medications as well as using illegal drugs. Claims can also be denied if the accident was caused by “willful intent.”
How to Appeal a Denied Workers’ Comp Claim in Mississippi
While there are situations where genuine mistakes were made when a claim was filed, it is rare. Still, when you receive your denial letter, you should look it over carefully to ensure that everything reported is correct. If you find any mistakes, you can contact the claims adjuster to have the issue fixed, which may result in a claim approval. However, this does not happen often. Even if a mistake was made, the likelihood of the claim being approved is minimal. Your next steps after receiving a claim denial will be to file an appeal.
In Mississippi, you can petition for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge or appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Commission. From there, you can appeal to Circuit Court or directly to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Not only may you obtain benefits that are due to you, but you may also be entitled to other money damages, including punitive damages if the denial was in bad faith.
Keep in mind that though you have every right to an appeal, the process is long and complicated. For this reason, it is important to seek out an experienced attorney to handle the legalities of your claim appeal. Working with an experienced attorney ensures that you are organized and prepared to answer any questions put forth in a manner that will win you your deserved benefits.
An Experienced Mississippi Work Comp Lawyer Can Help
Knowing what the law requires is one thing; standing up to the insurance carrier when they deny your claim or cut off your benefits prematurely is another. Our professional, dedicated team has years of experience practicing exclusively in the area of workers’ compensation law. Our law firm will take on the task of making sure you get your benefits promptly and fully paid, including appealing claim denials if necessary.
For help with a Mississippi workers’ compensation claim, contact the workers comp lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC for a free consultation.