When you are hurt at work it can be such a traumatic event that you may not remember what you need to do other than obtaining immediate medical help. Those who are injured on the job are entitled to collect payments from workers’ compensation while they are unable to work as a result of the injury. If you are injured at work—no matter whether the injury is minor or severe—you should immediately notify your direct supervisor and request medical treatment. Most human resource departments will have very specific procedures you are required to follow after an on-the-job injury.
If you have an employee handbook which was issued by your current employer, you should follow the guidelines listed. Even if you simply suffered a slip and fall but don’t think you are injured all that seriously, you should nonetheless follow the process to protect your future and your rights. Many times, symptoms manifest hours or even days following your accident. If you do not follow the proper procedure you may find yourself prohibited from filing a Mississippi workers’ compensation claim.
Mississippi Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is different from state to state. In the state of Mississippi, employers with five or more employees are required to provide workers’ compensation, with a few limited exceptions. These exceptions include domestic workers and independent contractors. Any illness or injury is covered so long as it arises during the course and scope of your employment—even if the accident does not occur on your employer’s property.
Following a Mississippi work-related accident, you have 30 days to provide notice of your accident and injury to your employer, and two years to file a workers’ comp claim. Your employer must file a report with the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission when you have missed five days of work as a result of your on-the-job accident with injuries. You are entitled to reasonable and necessary medical care for your work-related injury, as well as temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, permanent total disability or death benefits, depending on the nature and severity of your on-the-job accident with injuries.
If your injuries are severe enough to prevent you from returning to your normal employment, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation through the workers’ compensation program in addition to receiving normal workers comp weekly benefits. The state of Mississippi does offer vocational rehabilitation if you are unable to work in the same capacity as you did prior to the accident and must train for a new career. A vocational rehabilitation counselor will help you return to gainful employment with services including vocational counseling, job placement, on-the-job training or retraining. If your doctor says you are unable to perform the same work tasks you did prior to the accident, you will need to discuss vocational rehabilitation with your Mississippi workers’ compensation attorney.
Types of Injuries Which Qualify for Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Physical injuries are the only types of injuries covered under Workers’ Comp in most states and there are a wide variety of physical injuries which can be sustained in the workplace. Some states will cover mental trauma sustained at work, but these instances are few. In the state of Mississippi, workers’ compensation specifically indicates an injury does not include psychiatric conditions unless such a condition specifically arises from a work-related injury. This means mental conditions caused by work-related stress are not covered under Mississippi workers’ compensation.
Traumatic injuries take place in an immediate manner—if you are walking across your office, trip over a box which has been left in the floor and break your wrist, this is a traumatic injury. A Gillette injury, on the other hand is the result of any repetitive activity performed in the workplace over a period of time. A worker who has used a computer for many years may develop carpal tunnel syndrome—while this did not occur from a one-time injury, it is nonetheless a work injury which occurred over a period of time.
Consequential and Secondary Injuries
Injuries known as consequential injuries may also be covered. These occur when a worker has a back or other injury as a result of a work accident and subsequently develops another pain which can be tied to the original back injury. In this instance both injuries are covered under workers’ comp. If you sustain a second injury during the treatment of the initial injury, that injury will also be covered. This could happen if you sprained your knee at work and while going to the doctor for treatment you were hit by another car and sustained further injuries. All your injuries in a case like this would be fully covered since the theory is that if you had not been going to get treatment for the first work injury you would not have been further injured.
Finally, there are occupational diseases which workers get from being exposed to chemicals on the job over a significant period of time. If the chemical exposure led to some form of cancer or other disease it would be covered under Mississippi workers’ compensation because the chemical exposure occurred at work. Many such chemical exposures occurred years prior to the appearance of related symptoms yet they will nevertheless be covered. Examples include health problems from exposure to toxic mold in the workplace or coal miners who later contract black lung disease. Asbestos-related illnesses may not produce symptoms for decades after the initial exposure but could still be compensable.
Which Injuries are Most Common?
The vast majority of workers’ comp claims revolve around traumatic personal injuries—injuries which occur suddenly and can be quite serious. These types of accidents are most often connected to one specific accident and can include a worker straining his or her back while lifting a heavy object or breaking a bone when it becomes entangled in a piece of machinery. A case of the flu or other similar illness does not qualify under Mississippi workers’ compensation rules since it is not a particular incident which occurred at work—even if you’re pretty sure your co-worker gave it to you—and it is not considered permanent in any way. Illnesses which are covered must arise during the course of employment, and the working conditions must carry specific risks to the employees.
There are strict time guidelines under workers’ compensation, and it can be a very good idea to retain an experienced Mississippi workers’ comp attorney who can guide you through the maze and ensure your rights are fully protected. Remember, federal and state laws protect you from being fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you have further questions regarding your workplace injury, you should speak with an experienced Mississippi workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your rights are fully protected following your accident.
Contact Our Jackson Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you have been injured in a workplace accident in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Mississippi workers’ compensation attorney who will protect your rights and assist you in receiving the benefits to which you are entitled.
At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for injured Mississippi workers– to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. We can help you obtain the money you need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766 or (601) 265-7766.
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