Applying for Workers’ Compensation in Mississippi
Workers that sustain injuries or become ill while working on the job in 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 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.
The Mississippi workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC can help workers get the benefits they are entitled to after an on-the-job injury. Our lawyers represent workers from various industries, such as ironworkers, construction workers, truck drivers, general laborers, firefighters, and first responders. Learn more about how to apply for workers’ compensation below, and contact Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC for help with your Mississippi workers’ comp claims.
Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Facts
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning those injured on the job have a right to file a claim and receive benefits without needing to prove fault. These laws are in place to help employers by protecting them from getting sued and to help workers by providing them medical and wage benefits following a workplace injury or illness.
Workers’ comp benefits only cover medical expenses and loss of wages, unlike compensation for other types of personal injury claims. However, it does cover both short and long-term needs. For example, it can help workers pay for any upfront medical costs and further treatments or therapy needed down the road. 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?
Mississippi requires employers with five or more employees to have workers’ compensation coverage. If they have fewer than five, they may opt to provide coverage to their workers voluntarily, but it is not required. Workers in Mississippi are not required to meet certain salary requirements like some states do to be eligible for benefits, however, they do have certain types of workers that are not eligible.
Workers that are not eligible for workers’ compensation in Mississippi include:
- Independent contractors
- Farm laborers
- Non-profit employees
- Domestic laborers
- Employees of religious organizations
- Cultural organization employees
*Transportation workers, maritime workers, and federal employees are not eligible for state compensation benefits as they have their own private workers’ comp systems.
What is Covered?
Mississippi workers’ compensation benefits are available to workers that sustain any type of injury or illness so long as it is the result of work performed in the workplace. This includes all work-related occupational illnesses and diseases. In addition, a work-related death is also compensable with workers’ comp benefits.
Some common workplace injuries include:
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
- First responder illnesses, such as cancer or heart and lung diseases
What Benefits Are Available?
There are two types of workers’ comp benefits available to Mississippi workers:
- Medical benefits: Workers’ compensation can help pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury or illness. These payments may include doctor and hospital bills, prescription medications, and medical supplies such as crutches, wheelchairs, or prostheses. You are also entitled to mileage reimbursement for traveling to and from your doctors’ appointments.
- Wage replacement: If you are unable to work, you can receive two-thirds of your regular wages, subject to a maximum weekly amount. 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.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Mississippi
Employers are required to provide their employees with information about what to do if a workplace incident occurs, including how to go about filing a claim. This information could be posted around the workplace on posters, or it could be available to you in an employee handbook or amongst other documents that were provided to you when you were hired. If this information is not readily available to you, you should ask your human resources for what you need.
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 Mississippi.
Steps to Apply For Workers’ Compensation in Mississippi
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. You will be required to 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 Files a Claim:
Once the employer is notified, the state and the company’s insurance carrier will be notified. In Mississippi, your employer files with the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) in Jackson and also notifies its workers’ comp carrier.
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, 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. 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.
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.
Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
When filing your workers’ compensation claim, you’ll want to make sure that everything is done correctly the first time to ensure you get your benefits paid as soon as possible. You’ll also want to make sure no errors are made so you won’t have to worry about fixing them or filing an appeal.
However, even if you do everything right, your employer or their insurance company may try to deny your claim. This happens from time to time, especially if an insurance company is trying to get out of paying more than they’d like to injured workers. It is crucial in these situations to work with an attorney to fight against insurers and their traps.
Common mistakes you should avoid when filing a workers’ compensation claim include:
- Not reporting the accident: One of the most commonly seen mistakes workers make after a workplace injury is failing to report the incident to their employer. Most states, including Mississippi, have a time limit of 30 days to report an accident and injury that occurred on the job. However, if you wait too long, it may be too late and you will be denied compensation altogether.
- Avoiding the doctor: As soon as the injury is sustained, you should seek immediate medical attention. No matter how big or small the injury is, it is vital to have proof of the injury to receive benefits. If there is no documentation of the injury or any treatments prescribed, it will negatively affect your claim. Additionally, once you have sought medical treatment, failing to follow the doctors’ orders properly can also result in a denial.
- Falsifying information: 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.
- Losing track of records: Always keep records of everything. Even if you feel this is a straightforward case, it’s essential to take note of everything and keep all files and documents about the incident organized. 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, including scans and x-rays. If you’re concerned about keeping everything organized, a workers’ comp attorney can help guide you and keep you on track.
- Signing a medical authorization: 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’re 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 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 to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
For help with a Mississippi workers’ compensation claim, contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC for a free consultation.