Fighting On Behalf of Our Hometown Workers
Every employee should be safe at their job and able to work in a hazard-free environment. Unfortunately, millions of workers are injured—and thousands are killed—each year. Some workplace injuries occur suddenly and unexpectedly, like those resulting from vehicle collisions or slips on wet floors. Other injuries, however, can take years to develop from the repeated strain of lifting heavy loads or other strenuous or repetitious job duties.
If you were hurt on the job or suffered an illness because of your work exposure over time, workers’ compensation provides a system of benefits to help you get back on track.
An on-the-job injury claim can become very complicated very quickly if certain things don’t happen right after the injury is discovered. If a workers’ compensation lawyer is brought in early, he or she can help you avoid common mistakes that could hurt your case.
Work-related injuries can often lead to additional claims outside the workers’ compensation system, which may allow an injured worker to collect a larger settlement. You need an attorney who knows what questions to ask and how to investigate your work-related injury to determine if there are additional claims that may help maximize your recovery.
The Oxford workers’ compensation lawyers at Roberts Wilson, P.A. have substantial experience in these complex matters. Contact our office today online or at (662) 533-9111 for a free initial consultation. We serve injured workers throughout the state, including Oxford, Holly Springs, Batesville, Pontotoc, and all of North Mississippi.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program mandated by the state of Mississippi and overseen by the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission. The workers’ comp system covers medical treatment, benefits, and wage compensation for workers who are hurt, become ill, or lose their lives on the job. To make a claim, employees must inform their employer of the injury no more than 30 days after it happened.
Because it is a no-fault system, workers’ comp does not require the determination of fault in a workplace accident. This means that you cannot sue your employer and your employer cannot deny benefits if the injury was your fault.
There are extenuating circumstances to no-fault coverage, however. For example, if it is proven that you were intoxicated at the time of injury or intentionally harmed yourself, benefits may be denied.
What Types of Injuries Are Covered Under Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ compensation benefits in Mississippi cover any injury or illness that results from work done on the job. In addition to covering traumatic accidents such as machinery malfunctions and ladder falls, workers’ comp covers work-related occupational illnesses and diseases. Work-related deaths are also compensable with workers’ comp benefits.
Some of the most common workplace injuries covered by workers’ comp benefits include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Burn injuries
- Traumatic amputation
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
- First responder illnesses, such as heart and lung diseases or cancer
Many workplace injuries can have long-term, life-altering consequences. An attorney can help you navigate the complicated workers’ comp system and ensure that your rights and best interests are protected.
What Is Considered an Occupational Illness?
Occupational illnesses can develop instantly after a particular incident or gradually over a long period of time. Regardless of how quickly they develop, an illness must be the direct result of work performed—or the conditions under which work is performed—in order to be considered an occupational illness. This means that pre-existing illnesses, ailments, or other conditions do not qualify, even if they are further exacerbated by the job or job environment.
Some of the most common occupational illnesses include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Computer vision syndrome
- Tennis elbow/golfer’s elbow
- Hearing loss
- Sun poisoning
- Lead poisoning
- Skin disease (skin cancer, eczema, etc.)
- Lung disease (byssinosis, cancer, black lung, etc.)
- Reproductive disorder (caused by exposure to toxic substances)
Employers and their insurance companies routinely attempt to assert that employee illnesses are not caused by workplace duties or conditions, and therefore they are not liable for resulting harm. Because the severity of an occupational disease can range from mild to life-threatening, it is critical to file a claim as quickly as possible.
Common Causes of Mississippi Workplace Injuries
Some of the most common causes of work-related injuries covered under workers’ compensation include:
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Struck against object or equipment
- Struck by object or equipment
- Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects
- Fall to a lower level
- Fall on the same level
- Slip and Trip without falling
- Motor vehicle accidents
Who is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
With few exceptions, almost all workers in Mississippi are covered by workers’ compensation.
There are certain types of workers who do not fall under the workers’ comp laws in Mississippi, such as agricultural workers, domestic workers, and employees of non-profit organizations. These can include:
- Employees of religious organizations
- Employees of cultural organizations
- Employees of charitable organizations
- Independent contractors
What Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits Are Available in Mississippi
Following a Mississippi workplace injury, a successful workers’ compensation claim can cover all medical treatment related to the injury you sustained. This includes medical costs, prescription medications, doctor visits, physical therapy, and other necessary medical equipment and procedures.
Under Mississippi’s workers’ compensation system, you may receive one of the following disability benefits, depending on your injuries.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
If the injury forces you to take time away from work, temporary total disability benefits will cover two-thirds of your average weekly wage—up to an annually adjusted maximum. You will continue to receive these benefits until you are able to go back to work or until your doctor determines that your condition will not improve any further, referred to as Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). If your condition does not improve after 450 weeks, your temporary benefits will max out and end.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
Once you have reached MMI, your doctor will decide if you have a permanent disability that prevents you from ever working again. If so, permanent total disability benefits will cover the same rate as temporary benefits up to a maximum of 450 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
You may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits—which covers two-thirds of your average weekly wage—if your doctor determines that your MMI permits you to return to a reduced workload. The specific type of injury and disability you have will determine how long you receive these benefits, which may continue for anywhere from 100 to 200 weeks.
Mississippi Workers’ Death/Dependency Benefits
If a workplace injury causes death, the spouse and certain dependents of the deceased may be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. Under Mississippi workers’ compensation law, these benefits are paid at least every 14 days, up to a maximum of 450 weeks.
Workers’ compensation death benefits are subject to a weekly maximum amount set by statute, equaling a certain percentage of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage. The employer of the deceased—or its insurance carrier—must pay up to $2,000 in funeral expenses, in addition to an immediate lump-sum payment of $250 to the surviving spouse.
How Do I File for Workers Compensation in Mississippi?
After suffering an on-the-job injury, you need to know what steps to take in order to both receive the medical treatment you need and protect your rights.
Step 1. Report the Injury to Your Employer or Supervisor
One of the first—and most important—steps to take after a workplace injury is to report it to your employer immediately. If you fail to notify your employer within 30 days of your injury, your benefits could be delayed or even denied.
Upon being notified about your injury, your employer is required to make a report of the injury, notify the insurance company, and file a workers’ compensation-first report of injury or illness form with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. This should be done within ten days from the date when you notified your employer about the injury. This form can be filed by either you or your employer. If your employer fails to file the form within 10 days of receiving notice of your injury, they can be penalized by the Commission.
Step 2. Seek Medical Attention
After a workplace injury, your health should be your top priority. At first, you may not realize how severe your injuries actually are; immediate medical attention will document the severity of your injuries and may prevent your condition from worsening. Provide your doctor with a detailed account of your accident and what caused it. Under Mississippi law, employees have the right to choose what doctor treats their work-related injury.
Step 3. Take Notes
Once you have recovered enough to thoughtfully process what occurred, write down the cause of your injuries and everything your employer did and said to you. If your employer tried to make it difficult for you to collect workers’ comp, your detailed, promptly taken notes can help your claim.
Step 4. Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The workers’ comp process can be complicated and confusing. You may need to follow up to ensure that your employer filed your forms correctly and on time. All of this can be challenging when you are well, but after a serious injury, you need to focus on healing, not getting up to speed on Mississippi’s workers’ compensation laws. An experienced attorney can handle every aspect of your case so you can focus on your recovery.
Third-Party Lawsuits for Workplace Injuries
In some cases, the negligence of a third party (any person or entity who is not employed by the employer) is responsible for causing a workplace accident and injury. If you were hurt by the careless or reckless actions of a third party while at work, you can pursue damages against that party in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim. Examples of third parties include:
- Car or truck drivers in auto accidents if the job involves driving
- Companies that service equipment and fail to maintain equipment properly
- Property owners—if workers are injured while visiting their premises—such as a salesperson or service tech who visits a client
- Contractors and subcontractors who cause construction site accidents at your place of employment
- Architects who design unsafe structures
Potential Damages In a Third-Party Workplace Injury Claim
The compensation to which you are entitled under Mississippi workers’ compensation can help you and your family pay for medical bills and recover lost wages. However, workers’ compensation benefits do not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Injured workers can pursue non-economic damages in a third-party lawsuit, but unlike workers’ compensation benefits, fault must be proven.
In a third-party claim, your attorney will have to demonstrate that the other party was negligent and that this negligence caused your injury. In these cases, the workplace injury attorneys at Roberts Wilson, P.A. can help you seek compensation for the following non-economic damages, in addition to the medical expenses and lost wages covered by workers’ comp. These types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of society and companionship
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Property damages
Proving negligence in a third-party lawsuit can be incredibly complex and require the knowledge, skill, and resources of an experienced attorney.
If you were hurt on the job, a workplace injury claim is about more than just paperwork and benefits; it’s about your life, your livelihood, and your future. A workplace injury can be one of the most frightening and stressful events a person can experience. We know what a difficult time this may be for you and your family, and we are committed to helping you move forward with confidence and dignity.
Hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer to handle your claim can help ensure that you are treated fairly and receive the full and fair financial compensation you deserve for your illness or injury. The accomplished attorneys at Roberts Wilson, P.A. can help protect your rights as an injured or sick worker.
If you need help with your Mississippi workers’ compensation claim or third-party lawsuit, contact Roberts Wilson, P.A. today online or at (662) 533-9111 for a free initial consultation. We welcome clients from Oxford, Holly Springs, Batesville, Pontotoc, and all of North Mississippi.