Workers Compensation Laws In Mississippi
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance purchased by employers to cover employment-related injuries and illnesses. The premise behind workers’ comp is that the worker will receive “no-fault” insurance for an accident or illness which occurs at work, in exchange for the implied agreement not to sue his or her employer. Workers’ comp is a state-mandated program, with each state overseeing its own program. Because of this, the workers’ comp laws can vary from state to state. The Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act was passed by the state legislature in 1948 and is administered by the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Who is Covered under Mississippi Workers’ Compensation?
Nearly every working person in the state of Mississippi is covered under the state’s worker’s comp program. The exceptions are businesses with fewer than five employees, independent contractors, volunteers, domestic helpers such as housekeepers, babysitters and nannies, farm laborers, employees of a non-profit organization, employees of a religious organization, employees of a cultural organization and employees of a charitable organization. Although independent contractors are ordinarily excluded from Mississippi workers’ comp coverage, special protection is afforded to the employees of subcontractors.
Any injury, whether minor or serious, is covered under Mississippi workers’ comp if it is work-related. This includes workers who use company vehicles to perform company business, and, in some cases, even includes workers who are driving to or from work in their personal vehicle. Even work-related social events are covered in some instances, particularly if attendance was considered at least somewhat mandatory. This means company parties and other social events which were sponsored by the employer, even if those events did not take place on company owned property. This means if your place of employment sponsors a baseball team, and you are injured while playing for the company team, you are likely entitled to receive Mississippi workers’ comp benefits.
Is “No-Fault” Truly No Fault?
States are divided as to whether injuries which occur at work, which were the result of “horseplay,” or those in which the employee was disregarding workplace safety rules, are compensable. Since workers’ comp is considered “no-fault,” your injuries may still be covered under those circumstances. States are also divided as to whether an employee who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol can collect workers’ comp in the event of an accident. The state of Mississippi specifically addressed this issue in 2012 when several changes were made to the state’s workers’ comp programs.
2012 Amendments to the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Program
The amended Mississippi bill bars an employee’s recovery of workers’ comp benefits if the proximate cause of the injury was the use illegal drugs or intoxication. Employers may now administer a drug and alcohol test, or require the employee submit to such a test, when the employee claims a work-related injury. If the drug test is positive, indicating the presence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, the employee has the burden of proof to show the injury was unrelated to impairment.
The BAC of the employee must be above 0.08 percent, and prescription drugs must have been taken in a manner contrary to the prescriber’s instructions or the label warnings. Should an employee refuse to take a drug test, the presumption will be the employee was using drugs or alcohol. The amended bill also addressed pre-existing injuries, and now states that if a pre-existing injury is a material contributing factor to the current injury, the employee’s compensation will be reduced by the proportion the pre-existing injury contributed to the injury.
Workers in Mississippi are covered under workers’ comp the very day they begin a job—there is no waiting period involved. Injured Mississippi workers may be entitled to wage replacement benefits, medical expenses, compensation for permanent injuries, costs for retraining for a new job due to injuries and benefits to survivors of workers who are killed on the job. Workers’ comp benefits do not cover pain and suffering.
If you feel you have been unfairly denied workers’ comp benefits, it could be beneficial to speak to an experienced Mississippi workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys fight aggressively for injured employees and their families – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766 or (601) 265-7766.
$144 Million Death and punitive damages
$120 Million Injuries from dangerous drugs
$20.4 Million Fraud settlement that went to Mississippians
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$2.1 Million Civil rights death
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