Workers’ compensation benefits can be the difference between an injury you move past quickly and an injury that leaves you stuck in a financial struggle. Most Mississippi workers have workers’ compensation insurance through their employers.
However, there are some workers that will not be able to receive benefits in this manner. Independent contractors, unfortunately, fall into this category. But there are some protections offered to the employees of subcontractors that we’ll be discussing.
To better understand how workers’ compensation benefits work, we are going to first look at who is covered by workers’ compensation and, crucially, who is not. Then we will turn our attention to how independent contractors can protect themselves against medical bills arising from workplace injuries. Finally, we’ll discuss what injuries workers’ comp covers.
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Mississippi?
Most people that work in Mississippi will be covered by workers’ comp insurance through their employer. It is mandatory for companies with five or more employees to provide workers’ compensation coverage in our state. So, unless you’re working for a brand new or particularly small company, you most likely have coverage already.
Rather than discussing who is covered by workers’ compensation in Mississippi, it is easier to discuss who may not have coverage. Obviously, if you are not employed, then you won’t have coverage. But other individuals that might have coverage include:
- Farm laborers
- Domestic workers
- Employees of nonprofit fraternal, charitable, cultural, or religious organizations
- Those who are employed by the federal government
- Transportation employees covered by the federal government’s insurance
- Sole proprietors
- Maritime employees covered by the federal government’s insurance
- Independent contractors
Keep in mind, however, that these people are exempt from requiring workers’ comp. That doesn’t mean that an employer of farm laborers can’t choose to get coverage voluntarily. In fact, many employers choose to get coverage to make employment opportunities more appealing.
Unfortunately, you’ll notice that independent contractors are not generally covered by workers’ compensation. However, there are still protections in place that can help those in this field. Specifically, subcontractors who are working for an independent contractor are more likely to be covered since the contractor would be responsible for providing to those beneath them.
How Can an Independent Contractor Guard Against Medical Bills?
If you are an independent contractor, then it will most likely be up to you to guard against medical bills and workplace injuries. It goes without saying that the most effective way to protect yourself from workplace injuries is to implement safe practices to reduce risks. However, risks can crop up from the least expected places, and that makes it impossible to completely eliminate the chance of workplace injuries.
If you accept the reality of workplace injuries as a risk, then you could purchase workers’ compensation insurance for yourself. This is often a good idea even if you already have health insurance since many health insurance policies don’t cover work-related injuries. So to ensure you are covered in the event that you get injured on the job, purchasing workers’ compensation insurance is recommended.
There are some cases where an independent contractor needs to purchase workers’ compensation insurance in order to work on a particular job. For example, some businesses require anybody that does work with them to carry an insurance policy. This can mean that to take a contract that the company is offering, you need to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for yourself. Ultimately this is done to reduce the company’s liability, but it can also be a good motivator to get your workers’ comp insurance policy started.
Workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Medical benefits
- Death benefits
- Vocational training
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Temporary partial disability benefits
- Permanent total disability benefits
- Temporary total disability benefits
One of the best pieces of workers’ compensation claims in Mississippi is that The Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act ensures no-fault coverage. This means that it doesn’t matter who was at fault, workers that are injured will still receive benefits.
What Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Comp?
Not all workplace injuries arise from accidents. Accidents often result in the most severe injuries, however, and so it should be no surprise that injuries arising from accidents are commonly covered. But workplaces can also leave workers prone to illnesses, such as workplaces that deal in hazardous materials or from repetitive injuries, such as when an individual is required to repeat the same physical motion over and over again.
Workers’ compensation benefits are available pretty much regardless of the actual minutiae of your injury. If it was suffered in the workplace, then there is a high chance that it will be covered. Perhaps rather than looking at injuries themselves, it would best benefit us to understand what workers’ compensation helps to cover:
- Missed Wages: Injuries take time to recover from, and that means missing out on work. Workers’ compensation benefits help to replace lost wages so you can still pay your bills.
- Ongoing Care: Many injuries require ongoing care, such as physical therapy, and these costs can quickly accrue.
- Funeral Expenses: If an employee dies in a job-related accident, then death benefits can be paid for up to 450 weeks.
- Disability: If a workplace injury causes disability, temporary or permanent, then workers’ comp benefits can be used to help with medical and disability costs.
Workers’ compensation benefits don’t need to go towards just one of those bullets listed above. It can be used to cover multiple costs, such as missed wages and ongoing care, rather than just one or the other.
Should I Work with an Attorney?
If you need help filing your initial claim, or if you have been denied benefits and want to appeal, then it is a good idea to reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney that can help you through the process. For those who are concerned about their coverage, a discussion with an attorney may be helpful to clear up any questions you may have, and it could help you to decide the best course of action to ensure you are covered in the future.