Mississippi enacted legislation that became effective on July 1, 2012 that amended the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Act.  A brief summary of some of the changes to the Act include the following.  First, prior to the amendment to the statute, case law required the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act to be construed in a light most favorable to the claimant in situations where the Commission did not think the evidence clearly supported one side over the other. Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-1 now requires the Workers’ Compensation Act to be impartially construed and applied according to the law and the evidence in the record.  Second, the Legislature added language to Miss. Code Ann. §71-3-7(1),which assists the employer and carrier in the event the claimant files a Petition to Controvert and the employer had absolutely no knowledge of the injury. Where no benefits of any kind have been paid, the claimant is now required to attach medical records supporting his claim when filing a Petition to Controvert for a date of injury after July 1, 2012. If the Petition is filed near the end of the two year limitation period, the claimant will have an additional 60 days after filing the Petition to file supporting medical records with the Commission.  Third, Miss. Code Ann. §71-3-7(2) contains a provision which assists the employer and carrier in seeking apportionment. Previously, apportionment was not available to the employer and carrier unless it could be shown that the pre-existing medical condition had rendered the claimant occupationally disabled in some form. The new statutory language states that the pre-existing condition does not have to be occupationally disabling for apportionment to apply. Additionally, pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. §71-3-15(1), if an employee has surgery for the injury at issue or treats with a physician for six months or longer, that physician is now deemed the employee’s choice of physician.

This article was written by Virginia S. Gautier, Esq. of the law firm of Wise Carter Child & Caraway PA.   If you have any questions about this article or about Mississippi's workers’ compensation system, please feel free to contact the author atvsg@wisecarter.com.  Information about the Wise Carter Child & Caraway PA law firm can be located atwww.wisecarter.com .