Tupelo Work Injury Lawyers Helping Injured Workers Recover Compensation in Tupelo, MS
Work injuries are quite common across many industries and have the potential to be serious and cause employees to miss work. While manufacturing, construction, and nursing staff tend to have a higher percentage of work-related injuries when compared to employees in other industries, even those individuals working in an office setting are not free from being injured. Learn what you can do if you get injured at work and what options you may have to receive compensation.
What Is a Work Injury in Mississippi?
A work injury is considered any physical injury sustained by an employee while engaging in job-related activities or performing tasks to benefit the employer. In this sense, an injury can be traumatic (resulting from a single event such as an accident) or occupational (manifesting itself over a period of time and resulting from factors such as repetitive movement, for example).
The most common work injuries include workplace slip-and-fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, accidents involving heavy equipment or machinery in warehouse or manufacturing environments, exposure to toxic fumes, chemicals, or excessively loud noises, explosions, and construction-related accidents. Regardless of the injury type, if you were doing something to benefit your employer, your injury is likely covered by worker’s compensation insurance.
What Happens if I Get Injured While on Lunch Break?
There are, however, exceptions to when an injury is considered work-related. Sometimes, a worker can get injured while on lunch break, and depending on the circumstances, their injury may or may not be covered. For example, let’s suppose you were walking to the nearby sandwich shop to pick up your lunch and ended up slipping on a patch of ice and falling. Since you were not doing any tasks to benefit your employer and were away from the company premises, your injuries may likely not be covered. However, if you were walking to the sandwich shop to pick up lunch for your boss, then your injury could possibly be covered.
Likewise, if your company decides to put together an event for employees such as a party, sports event, or a barbecue, any injuries sustained during these events may or may not be covered. If participation is voluntary, any injuries might not be considered work-related. However, if the employees are required to participate or carry out tasks needed to organize the event, then those activities and any resulting injuries would likely be covered by worker’s compensation. Worker’s comp may not cover certain travel-related incidents, such as an auto accident that takes place while you are driving your personal vehicle and commuting to or from work. However, if you were in an accident while driving a company vehicle or driving your own vehicle while “on the clock” or carrying out an activity to benefit your employer (such as going on a business trip, meeting clients off-site, or running an errand for your boss), then your injuries may be covered.
It is worth mentioning that recent updates to Mississippi Worker’s Compensation laws allow employers to exclude injured workers from receiving coverage if the accident and injury were caused by the illicit use of drugs and/or alcohol. Employees who fail a drug or blood alcohol content test may likely not receive worker’s compensation benefits. Check your employer’s policies regarding coverage exceptions for worker’s compensation benefits.
Do Occupational Diseases Get Worker’s Compensation Coverage?
In Mississippi, worker’s compensation insurance also covers occupational diseases. An occupation disease is developed over a period of time as a result of an employee’s job-related activities or the work environment to which he or she may be exposed. It may also cover instances in which an employee’s pre-existing condition is made worse by the work activities.
For example, a worker may develop breathing problems or lung disease if he or she is repeatedly exposed to harmful fumes or chemicals as a part of their job duties. Likewise, a worker that operates a piece of equipment in a factory and needs to make the same movement all day long in order to run the machine properly may suffer from RSIs (repetitive stress injuries). An employee that was previously diagnosed with a herniated disc and is having an increase in back pain due to his daily job activities could also be covered, but worker’s comp may only cover treatment for the current symptoms resulting from the aggravation of the pre-existing condition, and will likely not cover the pre-existing condition itself.
What Should You Do if You Are Injured at Work?
If you are hurt at work, your priority is to seek medical help. You may be seen at a doctor or hospital of your preference, as your employer is not allowed to demand that you see a healthcare professional of their choice, but they can make a recommendation. Let your doctor know that your injury happened at work, and if possible, get copies of your medical records and exam results. If possible, document the scene of the accident by taking pictures and videos, and write down the contact information of any possible witnesses.
You also need to notify your employer as soon as possible, and no later than 30 days after the accident occurred. In the event that you are diagnosed with an occupational disease, you should also observe the 30-day deadline for reporting your diagnosis, counting from the day you received it. It may also be a good idea to seek the help of a work injury attorney.
How Much Does Worker’s Compensation Pay in Mississippi?
If your work injury or occupational disease causes you to miss more than 5 days of work, you can expect to receive a portion of your weekly wages once your worker’s comp claim is accepted. In Mississippi, injured workers may receive up to 66 ⅔% of their regular weekly wages as Temporary Total Disability benefits.
Payments begin after the 5-day waiting period, and usually include retroactive payment for these initial 5 days of missed work if you are not able to return to work within 14 days. You may receive worker’s comp payments for a maximum of 450 weeks. These guidelines also apply to Permanent Partial Disability benefits and Permanent Total Disability benefits.
What Is the Difference Between Temporary, Permanent, and Partial Disability?
Worker’s compensation provides benefits that cover medical expenses as well as a portion of the employee’s regular wages. An employee may qualify for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) if he or she is completely unable to work for a certain period of time. Temporary Partial Disability benefits (TPD) are usually paid when the employee is partially able to work after the accident, but needs to be placed on light duty or performing a modified version of their position, or put in another position that allows him or her to do light work.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits are paid when the injury results in a permanent partial impairment. The employee can still work, but can no longer perform all his or her job duties and needs to be placed in a light-duty position or perform their current position with accommodations, and their medical condition is not expected to improve. If the worker suffered a catastrophic injury that caused a complete loss in his or her earning capacity, then that worker may qualify for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits, which may last for up to 450 weeks following the date of the injury.
Can I Still Receive Compensation if I Was Partially Responsible for My Work Injury?
Mississippi is a no-fault state for worker’s compensation benefits. This has both positive and negative consequences for an injured worker. On the positive side, you may receive coverage even if you were partially at fault for the accident – with a few exceptions mentioned previously, such as accidents caused by the use of alcohol or illegal drugs, willful misconduct, refusal to wear employer-provided safety equipment or willful breach of the employer’s rules and policies.
On the other hand, the no-fault rule also bars employees from suing their employer for negligence, even when the employer’s negligent actions may have been the cause of the accident. It is always a good idea to consult a work injury attorney if you have questions about whether your work injury should be covered by your employer, or what options you may have for receiving additional compensation (when applicable).
What Can a Work Injury Attorney Do to Help Me?
The path to receiving compensation after a work injury is not always straightforward or easy to navigate. Many workers that file a worker’s comp claim end up having their claim denied, or sometimes, they may find they are not eligible for coverage due to being an independent contractor or working in another category that does not mandate the employer to offer coverage.
If you have been hurt at work and are having difficulties filing a worker’s comp claim, or are unsure about how to receive compensation for your injuries, reach out to Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC. Our work injury attorneys have helped many workers in the Tupelo, MS area to recover fair compensation for their injuries and appeal denied worker’s comp claims. Our attorneys have the skills and the knowledge to help you navigate this process and protect your rights after a work injury. Contact us at (662) 502-5195 and request a no-commitment initial consultation to learn your options.