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Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Benefits Owed to Police Officer Who Caused Wreck by Speeding

Did you know that you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Mississippi while injured on the job, even if you are found to be at fault for speeding during an automobile accident? In a June 2016 decision (affirmed in July 2017) from the Mississippi Court of Appeals, a police officer for the City of Jackson was injured while speeding and on his way to an emergency call. His employer, the City, alleged that he was acting with a “willful intent to injure” himself, and based on this intent, that he should not be permitted to make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The case is City of Jackson v. Kearney Brown, No. 2016-WC-01164-COA.

The Mississippi Court of Appeals disagreed with the employer, stating that in the 10-0 decision mentioned above, that the police officer was entitled to benefits, regardless of his disputed fault. Workers’ compensation laws in the State of Mississippi cover injured workers who receive injuries by way of an accident arising out of the course and scope of their employment. However, workers’ compensation benefits will not be paid to an injured worker if they were injured by their willful intent. This test for willfulness is based on intent and whether the facts of the claim support a willful intent to injure oneself.

The attorneys for the employer above tried to argue that the police officer intentionally injured himself, which meant he should not be paid benefits owed to him pursuant to Mississippi law. The facts presented by the employee showed that he was injured by an accident, and therefore, he was entitled to his benefits.

The reason for this decision is that Mississippi’s workers’ compensation laws are different from negligence laws, in that workers’ compensation laws do not consider the fault of either the employer or the employee when determining whether an injured worker is entitled to benefits. Instead, the law looks to whether an injured worker was working within the course and scope of their employment (meaning that they were not doing something unrelated to the usual acts of their job, like making a detour to run a personal errand) and whether that employee suffered an injury as a result of their employment. The fact that an employee was speeding and caused a car accident had nothing to do in the above case with the benefits owed to the injured employee.

The Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz handle workers’ compensation cases as described above, along with multiple other injury claims for injured workers, whether they are injured pursuant to state workers’ compensation laws, or injured while working under federal laws for on-the-job injury claims. In Mississippi, workers’ compensation claims are administered through the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission, which is located at 1428 Lakeland Drive, Jackson, MS 39216. Pursuant to the statute, injured workers may be able to recover medical, wage, and disability benefits, depending on the specific facts of the case.

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