Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
Prepared by the
Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission
P. O. Box 5300
Jackson, Mississippi 39296-5300
ANNUAL REPORT GENERAL INFORMATION
In 1948 the Mississippi Legislature enacted the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Law. At
the time, there was no standard, equitable system prescribing the rights and liabilities of employers,
employees and third parties in respect to industrial injuries. The only course of action available to
an injured employee was to either negotiate a settlement with the employer or resort to a common
law tort action. In a great majority of cases, this proved to be neither equitable nor economically
feasible for the interested parties.
The workers' compensation system was created to provide a measured level of benefits to
employees injured in the course of employment, without regard to negligence or fault, and, at the
same time, to limit the liability of employers for these injuries. An employer's assumption of the cost
of occupational injury, without regard to fault, is considered a cost of doing business which may
ultimately be spread to the consuming public. In exchange for this assumption, the employee is
precluded from seeking traditional remedies.
In order to further the basic objectives of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Law, the
Legislature created the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission to enforce and administer
the Law. The Commission performs all necessary administrative and judicial functions, and
promulgates all rules and regulations relating to the processing of claims.
The Commission is comprised of three members appointed for 6-year terms by the Governor,
with the advice and consent of the State Senate. The Governor designates the chairman of the
Commission. The Commission may appoint such officers and employees as are necessary to
adequately administer the Act, including up to eight (8) Administrative Judges, with the consent of
the Governor. These Judges conduct hearings, make investigations, determine disputed issues,
and review settlements. Their decisions may be reviewed by the Full Commission, and from there
appeal may be taken through the state court system.
The Commission receives notices of injury. On receipt of any such notice, a determination is
made whether to establish a claim file. Each case is then processed through prescribed procedures
until it is finally closed. The severity of the injury or the complexity of the claim determines the length
of time a claim remains open.
In the vast majority of cases, a claimant need not retain an attorney and wait for an
administrative proceeding or an adjudication of his claim in order to receive benefits under the
Workers' Compensation Law. Most claims are not controverted, and compensation is paid
voluntarily without a formal hearing or award. Employers and insurers are obligated to notify the
Commission and the claimant if the right to compensation is being denied. Either party may request
a hearing to resolve any disputed issues.
In administering the Law, the Commission has the authority to hear and determine all claims,
make awards, conduct necessary investigations, require medical services for injured employees,
approve and fix attorneys' fees and assess penalties. The Commission also has the responsibility
of approving settlement agreements and requests for lump sum awards.
The Law is applicable to all employers who have in service five (5) or more workers regularly
employed in the same business or in or about the same establishment under any contract of hire,
express or implied. An employer may be a person, firm or private corporations, but all non-profit
charitable, fraternal, cultural or religious corporations or associations are excluded. Several
categories of workers are specifically exempted from the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Law
as well: domestic servants, farmers and farm labor, transportation and maritime employees covered
under federal compensation laws, independent contractors and vendors.
If an employee sustains a disabling work-related injury, illness or disease, or is killed, medical
and/or funeral benefits are due. Fatal injuries excepted, no benefits, other than medical, are
payable during the first five (5) days of disability. Only if an injury causes disability in excess of five
(5) days, or likely will result in permanent disability or disfigurement, are disability benefits payable.
Claims which require the payment of disability benefits in addition to medical benefits are referred
to as "LOST TIME" claims.
If the injury results in disability continuing fourteen (14) days or more, disability or compensation
benefits are payable from the first day of disability. TABLE A reflects the number of "lost time"
claims by year, and also how many claims have been controverted.
The Law limits the weekly recovery to 66 2/3% of the average weekly wage for the State, and
in certain instances provides a minimum weekly benefit of $25.00. The Law also sets a maximum
overall limit on compensation for disability. For further rate information, see the Rates Table.
Compensation benefits payable for permanent total disability equal 66 2/3% of the employee's
average weekly wage at the time of the injury (subject to the maximum and minimum limitations),
and are payable for a period not to exceed 450 weeks from the date of the injury. If the disability
is total, but not permanent, benefits are paid at a rate and for a period determined by the nature of
the injury and disability. In no case will benefits exceed either the weekly or overall maximum
In case of temporary partial disability and permanent partial disability to the body as a whole,
the compensation rate equals 66 2/3% of the difference between the employee's pre-injury wage
and post-injury wage earning capacity, subject to the maximum weekly limitations of the Law.
Benefits for each may not exceed 450 weeks.
The loss of or loss-of-use of certain members is treated as permanent partial disability.
Scheduled members are the arms, legs, hands, feet, eyes, thumbs, fingers, toes, testicles and
female breasts. Loss or impairment of hearing and binocular vision are also included in the
schedules, and hernias are compensated per a schedule. Compensation for loss of a scheduled
member is payable for a fixed number of weeks specified in the schedules.
If permanent disability is shown, and there is evidence of a pre-existing occupational disability
which is a material contributing factor to the current disability, compensation benefits will be reduced
by the proportion which the pre-existing disability contributed to the results following the
compensable injury. There is no apportionment of medical benefits by reason of the co-existence
of a disease or infirmity unrelated to the compensable injury or disease.
If death results from the injury, the Law provides for payment of funeral expenses, not to
exceed $2,000.00, and an immediate lump sum of $250.00 payable to the surviving spouse. The
Law also provides for the payment of additional weekly benefits to the surviving spouse and any
surviving dependents. The total weekly amount of death benefits payable in any case shall not
exceed 66 2/3% of the deceased's weekly wage, or the maximum weekly amount set by the Law,
whichever is less, and the cumulative total shall not exceed the maximum overall limitation of the
Finally, the Commission, in its discretion, is authorized to award compensation for serious facial
or head disfigurement not to exceed $2,000.00. No such award shall be made until a lapse of one
(1) year from the date of the injury resulting in such disfigurement.
Information used to compile statistical reports is obtained primarily from the Employer's First
Report of Injury and updated from subsequent reports if necessary. All ''LOST TIME'' cases
reported to the Commission are coded into a statistical data base. The Commission's computer
system allows it to use this information to measure employer and carrier reporting performance,
measure payment performance and to retrieve injury summaries by various sorting criteria.
Once a claim becomes controverted, the system tracks and reports statistics related to the time
taken to reach each level of controversy, summarizes administrative judge activity, and provides
management statistics on the status of each case as it travels through the system.
TOTAL COMPENSATION and MEDICAL
Payments made through the end of the calendar year and reported by insurance companies
and self-insurers are listed in each year's report. Not included in these amounts are any reserves
which carriers must maintain in order to meet future payments on claims extending over long
periods of time. Such severe cases frequently take years for full payment and filing of final
MEDICAL SELECTION and PAYMENTS
Although the choice of physician lies first with the employee, a 1992 amendment to the Law has
narrowed that choice. An injured worker may accept the services offered by the employer or may
choose one physician or provider to administer treatment. The chosen provider is limited to making
one referral. Any additional selection or referral must be approved in advance by the employer/
carrier, or the Commission. In order for the services offered by the employer to count as the
employee's selection, the employee must agree thereto in writing. Also, the Commission
implemented a utilization review system and medical fee schedule effective August 1, 1993.
The Mississippi Workers' Compensation Law provides that an employer may be granted an
exemption from insuring liability for workers' compensation through the commercial insurance
market. An employer may insure its own liability by application to and Order of the Commission. The
principal requirement is that the application demonstrate the financial ability to pay its claims.
Commission approval of the applicant may be conditioned on the applicant's provision of sufficient
security to insure payment of all medical and indemnity claims.
By legislative act, effective July 1, 1988, group self-insurance was authorized in Mississippi. Each
group acts as a "risk pool," where employers with common interests pay "premium" to the pool in
return for workers' compensation coverage.
The Law provides for rehabilitation services for injured employees in order that they may return
to gainful employment. An injured employee engaged in a rehabilitation program is entitled to
receive additional compensation necessary for his maintenance; however such additional
compensation shall not exceed $10.00 per week for more than 52 weeks.
The Commission has established within the agency a rehabilitation unit which works
conjunction with rehabilitation providers to insure the availability of sufficient rehabilitation services
to workers' compensation recipients who can potentially benefit from such services.
SECOND INJURY FUND
The Commission is also responsible for maintaining a second injury fund. If an employee who
has previously lost, or lost the use of an arm, hand, leg, foot or eye, becomes totally incapacitated
through the loss, or loss of use of, another member or organ while working for an employer covered
by the Law, such employer is liable only for the compensation payable for disability related to the
second injury. The employee is paid the remainder of compensation that would be due for
permanent total incapacity out of the second injury fund. The second injury fund is maintained
through payments made to the Commission in cases of compensable death. Such payments are
deposited with the State Treasurer for the benefit of the second injury fund. If an employee's death
is compensable, the injury causing death occurred prior to July 1, 1984, and there are surviving
dependents, an amount of $150. 00 is payable to the second injury fund. If an employee's death
is compensable and the injury causing death occurred July 1, 1984 or thereafter and there are
surviving dependents, an amount of $300.00 is payable to the second injury fund. If there are no
dependents, then there shall be paid to the Commission the sum of $500.00.
The Commission receives no funds from the State General Fund. Costs of the Commission's
administrative expenses are borne entirely by the insurance carriers and self-insuring employers
whose claim operations are supervised by the Commission. Each carrier and self-insured employer
pays a pro-rata share of the annual expenses of the Commission based on its own total
compensation and medical payments made during the previous year. By statute, the Commission
is required to estimate annually in advance the amounts necessary for the administration of the
Workers' Compensation Law. This amount is used by the Commission as the basis for determining
the amount to be assessed annually against each carrier and self-insured employer. Regulations
of the Commission provide for the collection of the assessments to be paid into the Administrative