Liles B. Williams is the Chair of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission. It is his responsibility to manage the agency that handles all reports of work-related injuries in the state of Mississippi. He sees his role as two-fold: control costs so that employers are not overburdened and ensure fairness to those injured on the job. Williams said, "[Y]ou have to balance [the] scale, and provide the highest quality of service. For example, we don't want workers to go to doctors without a lot of experience in that particular area."
In recent years, Mississippi has intensified its focus on workplace safety. The statistics reveal that that emphasis has benefited Mississippi workers. The number of workers' compensation claims has decreased dramatically since 1994. During that time, over 20,000 claims were reported per year. Now, it is just over 11,000 workers' compensation claims reported to the commission. Another factor in the decrease in claims is the shift from manufacturing and construction jobs to service-oriented and information-based employment, decreasing the possibility of injury to employees.
Williams notes that nearly 90% of the claims are settled between the employer and the worker without a hearing. If either party does not like the settlement offer, they can file a petition to controvert the settlement. Once that petition is filed, the case is assigned to one of the eight administrative law judges employed by the Commission. Williams says that the case usually settles while waiting for a full hearing, but if the parties do go to a hearing, the administrative law judge rules on the claim. Either party can appeal the ruling to the full commission, which includes Williams and two others. The full commission renders a decision, which can then be appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
The process has several stages and usually requires the representation of an experienced attorney if it goes to a hearing before an administrative law judge. If you have questions about the workers' compensation process or if you have been injured on the job and think you may need representation, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Kobs & Philley PLLC at (601) 856-7800.
Source: "Mississippi Worker's Comp Chief Aims to Balance Costs, Fair Treatment," by Becky Gillette, published at InsuranceJournal.com.