Workers’ compensation guarantees payment of certain medical and wage loss benefits to individuals injured while on the job. Employers must pay into the workers’ compensation fund by state law. If covered, an employer must provide benefits to their employees by purchasing workers’ compensation insurance from an insurance company, or they may self-insure if approved by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you need help with the steps in a workers’ comp claim in Mississippi, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced Gulfport, MS workers’ compensation attorney right away.

Who Is Covered?

While most workers in Mississippi are covered by the law, not all are. Employers with at least 5 full-time employees must provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage. If an employer has fewer than 5 employees, workers’ compensation may be voluntarily provided by the employer. Additionally, domestic and farm laborers, certain non-profit workers in sectors such as charitable, religious, and cultural organizations, certain transportation workers, maritime workers, independent contractors, and federal employees are not covered by state law.

What Are the Steps in the Claims Process?

If an individual is injured on the job, they must notify their supervisor as soon as possible. If the employee must miss work for more than 5 days due to the injury, it must be reported to the Commission. A report must be made within 10 days of the 5-day lapse from work. The employer must then make a report of the injury to the Commission and notify their insurance company. The employee or employer may file a report with the Commission, and it must be filed within 10 days of when the employer is told of the employee’s injury. If the employer fails to file a report in a timely manner, they may face penalty by Commission.

If an individual’s employer or carrier does not pay benefits to the individual within 2 years of the injury, the employee must file a claim with the Commission within this 2-year period. Otherwise, the employee will lose their right to all benefits.

How To Appeal the Determination of Benefits

If you believes that you are not receiving adequate benefits from your employer, you can request a hearing with the Commission. The Commission will hold a pre-hearing statement, where arguments, parties, witnesses, and evidence are reviewed. Both parties must submit pre-hearing statements.

After the pre-hearing statement, the Commission holds a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. The judge will review the pre-hearing statements and make a determination. If you are unhappy with the decision, you may request a review of the decision within 20 days of the initial determination. The Full Commission will then hear the appeal and render a decision, either affirming or reversing the judge’s decision.

Does an Individual Require a Lawyer?

While a lawyer is not required to file a workers’ compensation claim, an expert attorney can expedite the process and help a person avoid common obstacles in the complicated claim process. A significant number of claims are denied the first time around, leading to a long, drawn-out appeals process, during which time you receive no compensation. You are more likely to receive the benefits you deserve the first time around if you work with a Mississippi workers’ compensation lawyer. If you are denied benefits and need to file an appeal, it’s even more important to consult with an attorney.