And this is a blog dedicated to Mississippi Workers' Compensation
Summer is officially here, and for those of you living in Mississippi, it could be argued it started well before June. Sports are almost non-existent now and people are taking summer vacations. My little guy finished up his first year of t-ball which I helped coach. I had him batting left-handed all year and he did fine, but since the season ended, he’s been practicing right-handed, which is clearly the correct side for him. My future in coaching is clearly off to a slow start. Meanwhile, our princess recently had her dance recital, so we are slowing down from an activity standpoint until school gets started back.
In 2013, I moved out of the roommate-lifestyle and bought my first home. I was also dating a pretty blonde at the time, so I bought a ring to go along with the house, as I needed somebody to keep it in order! Six years, one cockapoo and two kids later, our little house is now busting at the seams. We have now decided to build a house, which we plan to have ready as early as October 1, so we are excited to bring on the next chapter of our lives. It will have an upstairs with a full bonus room, so Sawyer calls it “the stair house”. Needless to say, he’s almost as excited as mama, and in order to claim his territory, he did what all yard animals do....
Recently, I have had multiple clients inquire regarding injured workers returning to work on a temporary basis prior to reaching maximum medical improvement. In Mississippi, if an injured worker is taken off of work, the employer can continue to pay the claimant’s salary, or the carrier will need to pay temporary total disability (TTD) payments. In the event TTD payments are owed, they are paid at two-thirds of the claimant’s pre-injury average weekly wage, up to a maximum weekly compensation rate depending upon that year. The weekly maximum rates of compensation are listed under “USEFUL LINKS” should you need a copy.
In certain scenarios, an employer can bring the claimant back to work, or provide alternative work for the claimant, if there are temporary restrictions in place that the employer can accommodate. This can be extremely beneficial for an employer as they can actually have the claimant perform necessary work activities and pay compensation for the work provided as opposed to the claimant simply receiving a TTD check while at home recovering. Further, studies show that getting a claimant back in the work force soon after injury helps with the recovery process and long term employability.
However, if an employer is able to accommodate a claimant in a limited capacity, that does not necessarily limit all of your temporary indemnity benefits. If an employer is able to accommodate a claimant’s restrictions, and the claimant is able to earn the exact same wages they made prior to the injury, then no indemnity benefits will be owed. Conversely, if an employer is able to accommodate temporary restrictions at a lower rate of pay, or lower hours, then the claimant would still receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TPD payments are calculated as two-thirds of the difference between the pre-injury average weekly wage and the wage earning capacity after the injury. The employer and carrier will calculate the claimant’s wages on a weekly basis and pay them accordingly.
Conceptually, this is a benefit for both the employer/carrier, as well as the claimant. However, if the claimant’s pre-injury average weekly wage is high enough, you may not actually be mitigating any of your temporary indemnity exposure. For instance, assume a claimant has a pre-injury average weekly wage of $1,500.00 for a 2018 injury, meaning he receives a maximum weekly compensation rate of $487.04. The employer is able to accommodate temporary restrictions, but can only offer $15.00 per hour at 40 hours per week ($600.00/week), as the claimant is now working a different position. In order to calculate claimant’s TPD benefits, we would take two-thirds of the difference between claimant’s current weekly wage ($600.00) from his pre-injury wages ($1,500.00) [(2/3) X (1500-600) = 600]. In this scenario, the claimant would receive $600.00 from the employer for the work performed, but would also still receive his entire weekly rate of indemnity benefits as the wages earned still exceed the maximum weekly compensation rate. Simply put, in scenarios where a claimant is a very high wage earner, even if an employer is able to bring the claimant to work and receive the benefit of the work performed, it may not impact your temporary exposure from an indemnity standpoint.
If you ever have questions regarding the calculation of any indemnity benefits, please let me know. Certain scenarios in claims can become convoluted, but I hope the scenarios explained above give you a better understanding of indemnity benefits.
11/12/2022 04:54:07 pm
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Attorney with Markow Walker in Ridgeland, MS