In 2012, SB 2576 instituted major changes to Mississippi workers’ compensation law. These changes went into effect on July 1, 2012 and apply to any workplace injuries occurring on or after that date. You may have noticed a written statement from the Workers’ Compensation Commission posted at your workplace at that time, but you may not have bothered to look at it, since it was likely a reprint of highly technical legal language pulled straight out of the statute books.
Here is a summary of some of the major changes made by SB 2576 in plain language, without all the legalese:
- Workers’ Compensation laws shall not favor either the worker or the employer
- One of the purposes of Workers’ Compensation is to ensure that injured workers with legitimate claims get their benefits paid in a timely manner, including reasonable medical expenses
- Injured workers are encouraged to return to work when they can
- If appealing a denial of your claim for benefits, you must file medical records along with your appeal. However, if the deadline to file your appeal is approaching, you can file your appeal and have up to 60 days to obtain and submit your medical records
- If you are found to have a preexisting condition which affects your injury, your benefits can reduced proportionately, even if the condition is not work-related
- Although you still have the right to choose your own doctor or accept the one provided by your employer, now any doctor who has treated you for more than six months or has performed surgery on you because of your injury will be considered your chosen doctor
- Workers’ Comp benefits for facial disfigurement were increased up to $5,000
- A worker’s death results in an immediate $1,000 payment to the surviving spouse, plus up to $5,000 in funeral expenses
- Benefits for vocational rehabilitation were increased to $25 per week up to 52 weeks
- Employers may deny a claim if the worker was under the influence of drugs at the time of the injury, including both illegal drugs or prescription drugs which were being abused
- The employer can require an alcohol or drug test after every work injury. If the test is positive, it is up to the employee to prove that alcohol or drug use was not related to the injury
- If an employee refuses a post-injury drug or alcohol test, the worker is presumed to have been intoxicated
- Attorneys cannot recover fees when benefits are voluntarily paid to an injured worker. Where the attorney negotiated a settlement with the employer or insurance company, this does not count as a voluntary payment
Another change which has occurred is that appeals from the MWCC no longer have to go through circuit court but can now go straight to the Mississippi Supreme Court. This change should shorten the time it takes to appeal a denial of workers’ compensation benefits.
Get Help for Workplace Accidents and Injuries from an Experienced Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Biloxi attorney Corban Gunn maintains an active workers’ compensation practice, helping injured workers obtain benefits and overcome denials of their claims. If you have questions about your on-the-job injury, don’t delay in contacting Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law for a free consultation about your claim.