A work-related accident can leave you with devastating injuries. Unfortunately, these incidents are more common than you think.
According to the Mississippi Occupational Health and Safety Surveillance Report for 2018, 75 people were killed in workplace accidents and another 692 employees were injured.
Many of the casualties occurred in certain sectors that aren’t surprising, including:
● Transportation and materials moving;
● Manufacturing; and,
Still, accidents can happen in any industry. Fortunately, the laws regarding workers’ compensation in Mississippi don’t distinguish among different occupational areas. All eligible employees are entitled to monetary benefits, but the key is following the proper rules and procedures when filing a claim.
Working with a Mississippi workers’ compensation attorney gives you an advantage in getting the benefits you deserve. An overview of the relevant legal issues may also be helpful in understanding the key legal concepts.
How Workers’ Comp Claims Work in Mississippi
There was a time when Mississippi employees needed to file a personal injury lawsuit and prove that their employer was negligent to recover compensation. The process was time consuming and expensive, and workers suffered while waiting desperately for funds to cover their losses.
That changed throughout the US when states began enacting workers’ comp laws, which protect employees and provide them with resources to return to the workforce as quickly as possible. The source of the funds is through the statutory requirement that employers carry workers’ compensation insurance policies to cover workers.
Not all workers qualify for benefits, however. To be eligible under Mississippi’s workers’ comp system, you must be a covered employee, which means that:
● You must be an actual employee, as opposed to an independent contractor;
● You need to work for a company that’s required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, a requirement that applies to companies with five or more employees;
● Your injuries must be the result of an accident or conditions you encounter on the job; and,
● You must notify your employer about your injuries within 30 days after they occur.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Mississippi
If you’re eligible under the strict rules of the workers’ comp system, you’re entitled to full payment of all medical costs related to treating your injuries – past, present, and future.
You can receive benefits for all direct and incidental costs, including surgery, physical therapy, medications, assistive devices, and other related expenses. Plus, you can receive payments to cover a portion of your lost wages. For instance, you may qualify for:
● Temporary total disability, if you can’t work at all while you recover from your injuries;
● Temporary partial disability to cover your losses if you can work, but you’re earning less while you’re going through the healing process;
● Permanent partial disability, when your injuries limit your work capabilities and you’re not expected to fully recover; and,
● Permanent total disability, if your injuries are so severe that they prevent you from working in any capacity for the long term. Usually, this would be a situation where you lost a limb, your eyesight, or function in essential body systems.
There are also programs available to assist in a case where you cannot return to your normal occupation, including vocational assistance, education, and training. If you lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident, you may be eligible for death benefits under Mississippi workers’ compensation laws.
Filing a Claim Under Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Laws
While it’s important for all Mississippi employees to know their rights under state law, there are some employment situations that tie into Arkansas workers’ compensation laws. A summary may be useful, and many of the basic concepts are the same. You don’t need to prove that your employer was at fault to obtain benefits, but other important factors include:
● In Arkansas, employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance if they have three or more employees;
● You must report your injury to your employer immediately, so time is of the essence in filing proper forms; and,
● There are limitations on the amount you can receive for medical expenses.
Next Steps if Your Claim is Denied
In both Mississippi and Arkansas, a rejection from your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company is not the end of the road. Many insurers deny injury claims for legitimate reasons, such as where you didn’t comply with time deadlines or other technicalities.
Other times, the denial is for wrongful reasons, which means you’ll need an attorney to assist in taking your case to the next level. The Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission are tasked with handling such claims.
Plus, you should note that you may have other legal remedies outside the workers’ comp system. Despite the fact that filing a workers’ compensation claim is your sole remedy in most situations, there are exceptions. You may be able to file a lawsuit in civil court if:
● Your injuries were caused by intentional conduct;
● Your employer fails to carry workers’ compensation insurance as required by Arkansas or Mississippi law; or,
● Your injuries were the result of negligence by a third party, such as a vendor, contractor, business partner, or other entity.
In such a situation, you can recover the various types of compensation that are available in a personal injury case. Notably, you’re eligible to receive monetary damages for pain, suffering, emotional distress, and other damages that are unavailable in a workers’ comp claim.
Set Up a Free Consultation with a Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you’re filing for workers’ compensation in Mississippi or Arkansas, it’s important to have knowledgeable legal representation on your side. The claims process can be complicated, and you could face challenges with your employer and workers’ comp insurance company.
Don’t try to fight this battle alone, especially when you should be focusing on the recovery process and getting back to work. Our team at the Harris Law Firm, PLLC can help. We represent employees in Washington County and Western Mississippi, as well as injured workers in Arkansas. Please contact our Greenville, MS office to schedule a no-cost consultation today.