Jackson & New Orleans Workers’ Compensation FAQs
Hopefully, you’ve never had to file a workers’ comp claim before. The downside of being new to the process is that it can seem alien, confusing and difficult to navigate. Below are answers to some of the questions we hear most often as we help injured workers get workers’ compensation benefits in Mississippi and Louisiana. If you have other questions or need help filing a claim or fighting a denial or termination of benefits, call our offices in Jackson or New Orleans for a free consultation.
What is an IME?
An IME is an independent medical examination. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier often requires one. They will send you to a physician whom they have hired to examine you and interview you about your job, your disability and how the injury impacts your ability to work. This doctor does not treat you in any way or prescribe any medication. The examiner’s only job is to make a report for the insurance company. When insurance companies request an IME, their goal is to see whether they have grounds to deny your claim or terminate your benefits if you are already receiving workers’ comp. In general, you must attend an IME to preserve your rights to receive benefits, although there may be limits on how often the carrier can force you to undergo an IME. Talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before your IME, so you will know what to expect and what to do if the report is unfavorable to you.
Can I get Social Security Disability for an on-the-job injury?
SSD benefits are only available if you are permanently disabled from working and have a medical condition that is expected to last a year or more or result in death. The Social Security Administration employs stringent definitions and criteria for a qualifying disability, and you have to have enough work credits to qualify as well. The vast majority of applications for SSD are turned down by Social Security, although if you get a good lawyer and stick with it, your odds of obtaining benefits increase substantially.
Can I choose my own doctor?
In Mississippi, the employer first furnishes you a doctor, but you have the right to accept that physician or choose your own. If your employer (or their insurance carrier) disapproves of your choice of doctor, you may have to go through a formal process with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to accomplish the change. Also, if a doctor has treated you for over six months or operated on you for your injury, that doctor will be considered your chosen physician.
Your doctor can make one referral to a specialist without requiring approval from the employer or insurance carrier, but any other referrals must first be approved by the insurer.
Louisiana also allows you to choose your doctor, but if you later want to switch doctors, you may need to get approval from your employer. If a treatment will cost over $750, the doctor has to get the treatment approved by the insurer first.
Can I see a chiropractor?
Yes. You are not required to choose a licensed medical doctor and can choose a chiropractor or other health care provider.
What if the on-the-job injury aggravated a pre-existing condition?
In Mississippi, a pre-existing condition will reduce your benefits in proportion to the amount the injury is apportioned to the pre-existing condition. This is the case whether or not the pre-existing condition was work-related.
What is a Petition to Controvert?
This document must be filed with the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years of the injury to preserve your rights to file a claim.
Does workers’ comp provide death benefits to a surviving spouse?
Benefits to a surviving spouse in a Mississippi workplace accident include $1,000 in immediate payments and an additional payment for funeral expenses up to $5,000. A surviving spouse can also receive a portion of the deceased spouse’s wage for as long as 450 weeks after the death. In Louisiana, a surviving spouse and children can receive wage replacement benefits, but the precise amount paid depends on the number and type of beneficiaries. Louisiana workers’ comp will also pay reasonable funeral and burial expenses up to $8,500.
Are there special benefits for facial disfigurement?
You can receive benefits for facial disfigurement in Mississippi up to $5,000. Benefits for scarring and disfigurement in Louisiana are paid at the total temporary disability rate for up to 100 weeks.
How do alcohol and drug testing affect a workers’ comp case?
In Mississippi, your employer can deny your claim if you were under the influence of drugs when the accident occurred. This includes illegal drugs as well as abusing prescription drugs. Your employer can order you to undergo an alcohol or drug test following a workplace injury. If you test positive for drugs or alcohol, the burden will be on you to prove that the injury was not related to alcohol or drug use. If you refuse to take a post-injury alcohol or drug test when required, you’ll be presumed to have been intoxicated at the time of the accident.