Most Mississippi businesses with employees are required to pay for workers' compensation insurance (WC or workers' comp insurance). The insurance provides compensation to employees who suffer work-related injuries. Here are some basic facts that you need to know about workers' comp insurance in Mississippi as a business owner and employer.
If your Mississippi business has five or more employees, you're generally required to carry workers' compensation insurance. Exceptions to this general rule include domestic (household) employees, farm laborers, and certain employees of non-profit organizations.
The Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission (WCC) is the primary state agency that handles workers' comp claims. Most of the law for WC insurance is contained in Mississippi's Workers' Compensation Act (Title 71, Chapter 3 of the Mississippi Code, available online through a private website). In addition to the Act, there are also administrative rules that cover workers' compensation in Mississippi.
In Mississippi, workers' compensation insurance is available through private insurance companies. If your business is unable to obtain coverage through a private insurer, you can get coverage through a so-called assigned risk pool, which is one form of residual market plan. There is also an option to self-insure, but this may not be advisable for smaller businesses, in part because it requires that a lot of money be set aside to cover potential claims.
Your employee should notify you immediately in the event of an injury, and in any case within 30 days of the injury. Once you have been notified of the injury, you may need to file a report form with the WCC and your insurance carrier. Reports must be filed for all injuries resulting in more than five days of lost time or death. You must file a report within 10 days of receiving notice of the injury. Use Form IAIABC IA-1, First Report of Injury or Illness.
Beyond this initial step of filing the form, there are subsequent steps to the WC claims process, not covered here.
If you or your insurance carrier chooses to deny WC benefits to your employee, the employee may choose to file a Form B-5,11, Petition to Controvert. You, in turn, must file a Form B-5,22, Answer, which will contain your initial written response to the employee's petition. From that point, there may be a series of events, which could include a hearing conducted by an administrative judge of the Hearing Section of the WCC. Subsequent events could include a hearing before a full panel of WCC commissioners and an appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
If you don't carry workers' compensation insurance you may be subject to various penalties. For example, a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in prison, or both. In addition, for corporations, corporate officers may held personally liable for any compensation or benefit due to an injured employee. Furthermore, the WCC also may assess a penalty of up to $10,000. The main penalty rules are contained in Section 71-3-83 of the Mississippi's Workers' Compensation Act.
There are many other workers' compensation requirements for Mississippi employers, such as putting up posters about workers' compensation coverage where employees can see them. For more information, see the Nolo website which has a section devoted to workers' compensation. In addition, the Workers' Compensation Commission website also contains useful resources.