Applying for Workers’ Compensation in Louisiana and Mississippi
Workers that sustain injuries or become ill while working on the job in Louisiana and Mississippi have a right to claim workers’ comp benefits. The compensation you receive can help alleviate the financial burden of lost wages from missing work and having to pay for expensive medical treatments.
However, though most states—including Louisiana and Mississippi—have laws in place to protect injured workers, it is common for insurers to deny claims and use backhanded tactics to reduce claim amounts. Due to these attempts, it is often necessary to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Louisiana and Mississippi
Your employer should provide information about how to file a claim. If the information is not readily available in your employee handbook or posted on fliers or posters around the workplace, you have a right to ask for the information. In many cases, the information provided will be very basic and, unfortunately, does not fully explain all that you need to do to have your claim approved.
If you are concerned about making a mistake and filing a claim incorrectly, call the workers’ compensation attorneys at Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, PLLC. We are dedicated to handling workers’ compensation cases for all injured workers in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Steps to Apply For Workers’ Compensation
Follow these steps to properly file a workers’ compensation claim:
#1 – Notify your employer
After any workplace accident resulting in injury or illness, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. Both Mississippi and Louisiana require that you report the accident within 30 days. If you fail to abide by this timeline, your workers’ comp claim may get denied.
Be sure to not only give your notice verbally but in writing as well. The notice should include:
- Name and contact information
- Time and date of the incident
- Where and how the injury occurred
- What kind of injury you sustained, and where it is located on your body
#2 – Obtain a copy of the accident report
Once you have reported the incident, be sure to obtain a copy of the report from your employer. This will ensure that they do make an official report. Additionally, having a copy and proof that a report was filed is beneficial to your claim.
#3 – Your employer will file a 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. In Louisiana, the employer files a First Report of Injury with the insurer, and the insurer submits a claim to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Check in regularly with your employer to ensure the claim has been filed. They may purposely delay or genuinely forget if they are busy. However, the sooner it is filed, the sooner you will receive your benefits.
#4 – Seek medical treatment
Even if you don’t feel that your injury requires a visit to the doctor, having proof from a medical expert that you did indeed sustain an injury or an illness will help your claim. In Mississippi and Louisiana, workers are allowed to choose their physician. However, once you have chosen, you are typically not allowed to switch doctors without getting approval from your employer’s insurance.
#5 – File an appeal (if necessary)
If your claim is approved, you should 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 or Workforce Commission. 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. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations is one year for a wage dispute or three years for a dispute over medical coverage.
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. In Louisiana, you can appeal a decision of the administrative law judge to the Circuit Court of Appeal within 30 days.
Mistakes You Should Avoid When Applying For Workers’ Compensation
Even the most minor of mistakes can result in a denied claim. The following are some of the most common mistakes workers make when they don’t have an attorney helping them file their claim:
- Failing to report the incident: Failing to report an accident and injury that occurred on the job can result in your claim being denied. The longer you wait to report your accident, the less likely your claim will be accepted.
- Avoiding seeking immediate medical treatment: As soon as the injury is sustained, you should seek immediate medical attention. If there is no documentation of the injury or any treatments prescribed, it will negatively affect your claim.
- Falsifying information about the incident and your injuries: When filing your claim and reporting the incident to your employer, you should always tell the truth. The same goes for when you seek medical treatment and speak with a doctor. Those involved in workers’ comp cases have plenty of experience spotting falsified information. If you are caught lying, it will sabotage your claim.
- Failing to keep organized records: Always keep records of everything and obtain copies of reports. This includes writing down everything you can remember leading up to the incident, after the incident, and the names of any witnesses. You should also keep track of your pain and any symptoms and ask for copies of all medical documents.
- Signing a medical authorization for the insurance company: Asking for authorization to view your medical records is a tactic used by insurance companies in an attempt to reduce the claim amount. They may tell you that they just want to understand the extent of your injuries to give you the compensation that you deserve, but this is almost always a lie. They are actually after access to your files to use any information they can find to downplay your injury. If they call, just tell them no and that you need to speak with your attorney first.
- Accepting a quick settlement: Another tactic insurers use is offering a quick settlement, especially if they fear you are working with an attorney. Working with a workers’ compensation lawyer helps to ensure you receive the full benefits you deserve, and insurance companies know this. They may call you and try to talk you out of working with an attorney by claiming that it will cost you more money in the long run, but this is just a tactic they use to scare workers into a quick settlement.
Contact An Experienced Louisiana and Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The process of filing for workers’ compensation can be tricky, and it’s easy for mistakes to be made. Additionally, you may find yourself up against an insurance company trying to deny your claim or reduce the benefit amount. Our dedicated workers’ comp lawyers can help you at every stage of the workers’ compensation process in Mississippi and Louisiana to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
For help with a Louisiana or Mississippi workers’ compensation claim, contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, PLLC for a free consultation.