Case Law Update: Impact of COVID-19 on Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Insurance

workers' compensation insurance Jackson MSBusiness owners in Jackson, MS, and throughout the entire state are carefully watching the outcome of court cases involving workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19. The outcome of a recent case seems to put the burden of proof on the employee filing the claim.

According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission ruled on a pivotal case on August 25, 2021. The Commission denied a claim for benefits in the case of West v. The Nichols Center. In the ruling, the Commission stated that the claimant failed to prove a direct link between the performance of duties and the contraction of COVID-19.

Notably, the Commission stated that a lack of established precedent on the matter influenced its decision. The decision included the following points, which could impact future cases:

  • Workers’ compensation claims regarding COVID-19-related disability must show a direct connection (supported by medical evidence) between work performed and the contraction of the virus.
  • In its analysis of COVID-19 cases, the Commission stated that future decisions should be based on proof of the following:
    • A diagnosis of COVID-19
    • An impairment suffered by the claimant
    • Proof that COVID-19 caused or accelerated the impairment
    • The points above must be medically linked to employment

Factors Affecting Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cost for Employers

Employers are carefully watching COVID-19 workers compensation rulings because eligibility for workers’ compensation based on the disease could send employer rates for this type of insurance skyrocketing.

The estimated rates for 2020 in Mississippi were $1.22 per $100 in covered payroll. Here are some of the factors influencing this rate:

  • Payroll
  • Number of employees
  • Location
  • Industry and risk factors
  • Claims history
  • Coverage limits

COVID-19-related cases in a number of those categories can potentially raise rates for workers’ compensation insurance in Jackson, MS, and other cities in Mississippi.

How States Are Handling COVID-19 Classification Under Workers’ Compensation Insurance

According to this Reuters report, Mississippi is among a number of states that have failed to pass legislation regarding whether COVID-19 meets the criteria for illnesses covered by worker’s compensation.

Other states that have remained silent on the issue include Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota. West Virginia and Tennessee have passed on ruling in favor of special consideration for COVID-19 victims.

Some states now include COVID-19 as a specific illness in their workers’ compensation laws. Those states include Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

These states passed rules through executive action: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Oregon. First responders and public employees are protected and can assume a presumption of coverage.

States enacting protections as part of their workers’ compensation statutes include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. New laws protect workers with COVID-19 under workers’ compensation.

Jackson, MS, employers with questions about how COVID-19 could impact their Mississippi workers’ compensation insurance should contact reputable insurance agents for answers to their questions.

Are you wondering if COVID-19 cases could raise your workers’ compensation insurance rates in Jackson, MS? Make an appointment with a Hawsey Insurance agent in Jackson, MS, today. You can also request a free online quote or visit our offices in Baton Rouge, LA, or Madison, MS.