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Talking Points 2012 Workers Comp Bills

HB 555 and SB 2576


Fair & Impartial Interpretation Fair & Impartial Interpretation of the law would be restored according to the original intent of the law, putting an end to the practice of allowing the court to favor one party over the other when judicial opinion is persuaded to consider all sides equal. By making this change, the act would be fairly and impartially applied to both employers and employees. Section 71-3-1 1. Removal of the Found Dead Presumption from the Definition of Injury The statute would be amended to allow case-by-case determination of whether a workplace death is work-related. Currently, any workplace death is presumed to be the liability of the employer, even when facts are clear that the death was due to natural causes. This change would result in a more fair approach. Section 71-3-3 2. 3. Apportionment of Pre-Existing Conditions Apportionment would be reinstituted, allowing pre-existing conditions to be apportioned so that employers hiring previously injured employees are only considered responsible for the permanent effects of a new injury and not the pre-existing one, unless medical evidence shows causal relation. This would restore fairness to the workplace previously injured Mississippians would be better able to obtain work because employers would no longer fear being made liable for the permanent effects of old injuries. Section 71-3-7 Enhancements to Employees Choice of Physician A change in the statute would remove the ambiguity of who an employee chooses as his or her physician by stipulating that, in addition to other statutory statements as to choice of physician, choice is established once an employee either receives surgery from a physician or receives treatment from a physician for a period of more than six months. Section 71-3-15 4. 5. Significant Increases In Certain Benefits Significant increases would occur in certain benefits, for the first time since 1948, when Mississippis current statute took effect. The surviving spouses benefit would quadruple, from $250 to $1000. The funeral benefit would more than double, from $2000 to $5000. The disfigurement benefit would also more than double, from $2000 to $5000. And the weekly benefit for vocational rehab would increase from $10 per week to $25 per week. Sections 71-2-17, 19 &25 6. Prevention of Payment to Attorneys on Benefits Voluntarily Paid Attorneys would no longer be paid fees on benefits that the employer voluntarily pays under the law. This would be of great value to injured workers, allowing them to properly receive all benefits an employer voluntarily pays for every claim, without having unwarranted fees withheld. Section 71-3-63 7.
Post-accident drug and alcohol testing would be admissible in workers comp proceedings, whether administered by the employer or otherwise, ensuring the admissibility of all such tests. Currently, while an employers test is considered admissible, the court can disregard a test done by a hospital or other healthcare provider. A change in this practice, along with tougher standards against workplace drug and alcohol use, would result in a fairer process and a safer workplace for Mississippis workforce. Section 71-3-121

Stronger Measures Against Workplace Drug & Alcohol Use

MASI Dan Gibson, Executive Director 601-354-0199 dangibson@masiweb.org