Mississippi's system of workers' compensation is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees. Workers' compensation insurance may be provided through private insurance carriers or self-insurance. Waivers may be permitted to exclude certain employees from coverage, including corporate officers and sole proprietors.
Exemptions from coverage may apply to certain employees, including employees of very small businesses, farm workers, domestic servants and casual employees.
Medical Benefits are provided to employees entitled to workers' compensation benefits, subject to limitations on chiropractic care, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
The employee makes the initial choice of treating physician. The employee can obtain permission from the employer or workers' compensation insurer to change doctors, or may petition the workers' compensation agency to order a change of doctor.
Indemnity benefits are payable to injured workers to help make up for lost income. There is a waiting period of 5 days before a worker is eligible for indemnity benefits, but if the worker's disability lasts more than 14 days indemnity benefits become retroactive to the date of the injury. The dates of disability do not necessarily have to be consecutive.
Benefits available to injured workers include the following:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to workers who are unable to work due to injury, but who are expected to make full or partial recovery such that they may return to work. Benefits are based upon 2/3 of the injured worker's average pre-injury weekly wage, subject to a cap, and continue for up to 450 weeks. Offsets may apply for disability benefits paid entirely by the employer, or wages paid in lieu of workers' compensation.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
When a worker is not expected to recover from a total disability caused by a work-related injury, and as a result suffers a total loss of earning capacity, the worker becomes eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In Mississippi PTD benefits are calculated based upon 2/3 of the injured worker's average weekly wage, subject to a cap, and may continue for up to 450 weeks or until the worker has received a maximum PTD benefit. Offsets may apply for employer-provided disability insurance benefits or wage-replacement payments, and for TTD benefits previously paid.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Once an injured worker has recovered to the maximum possible extent, the worker may be able to return to employment but nonetheless remain partially disabled, and may potentially qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. In Mississippi PPD benefits are determined based on a statutory schedule, based on actual wage losses or estimated loss of earning capacity, subject to a cap. Benefits for unscheduled injuries are calculated benefits based on the injured worker's loss of wage-earning capacity, subject to a cap, and medical impairment rating, and may continue for a maximum of 450 weeks.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
When a worker suffers an injury that limits his ability to return to work, resulting in a reduction of income as a result of reduced hours or wages, the injured worker may be eligible to receive a benefit based on the difference between the worker's pre-injury earnings and their reduced, post-injury earnings. In Mississippi, TPD benefits are paid based upon 2/3 of the difference between the injured worker's pre-injury and post-injury wage, subject to a cap. Benefits are payable for up to 450 weeks.
For some, more serious injuries, workers' compensation indemnity benefits may be paid according to a statutory schedule, instead of following the standard model of the weekly benefit based on the duration of the disability. Scheduled injuries include such injuries as the amputation of an arm, the loss of a dominant hand, the loss of a leg, the loss of a foot, the loss of an eye, or loss of hearing in an ear.
Coverage may be available for cumulative trauma, disfigurement, mental stress and occupational hearing loss.
When a worker dies as the result of a work-related injury, workers' compensation pays additional benefits, including a burial allowance, and benefits for a surviving spouse and dependents. Survivor benefits are calculated for a spouse based on 35% of the worker's average weekly wage, and for children based on 10% of average weekly wage, subject to a cap in amount and duration. Benefits may continue for minors until the age of 18, the age of 23 if the dependent is a student, or indefinitely in the event of disability, subject to the cap. Spousal benefits end upon remarriage.
If a deceased worker has no dependents, an additional amount is paid to the estate.
Attorney fees are limited by statute to 25% of the total award. Attorney fees are subject to review by the workers' compensation commission.
This article provides a quick overview of the benefits available to injured workers, but the full formulas used for assessment of benefits, coordination of different types of benefits, and assessment of injuries and disability ratings can quickly complicate the determination of benefits. Also, states frequently revise their workers' compensation laws. Most workers who suffer a significant injury or wage loss as the result of a workplace injury will benefit from consulting a workers' compensation lawyer.
The state agency responsible for workers' compensation is:
Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission
1428 Lakeland Drive
P. O. Box 5300
Jackson, MS 39296-5300
(601) 987-4200 or 1-866-473-6922