2007 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Kirby
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 71-3-37, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT BENEFITS COMMUTED BY ORDER OF THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION SHALL BE DISCOUNTED TO PRESENT VALUE USING VALID ACTUARIAL TABLES AS DETERMINED BY THE COMMISSION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 71-3-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
71-3-37. (1) Compensation under this chapter shall be paid periodically, promptly, in the usual manner, and directly to the person entitled thereto, without an award except where liability to pay compensation is controverted by the employer.
(2) The first installment of compensation shall become due on the fourteenth day (14th) after the employer has notice, as provided in Section 71-3-35, of the injury or death, on which date all compensation then due shall be paid. Thereafter, compensation shall be paid in installments, every fourteen (14) days, except where the commission determines that payment in installments should be made at some other period.
(3) Upon making the first payment and upon suspension of payment for any cause, the employer shall immediately notify the commission in accordance with a form prescribed by the commission that payment of compensation has begun or has been suspended, as the case may be. No suspension in payments of compensation shall be made for refusing to submit to medical or surgical treatment until the reasonableness of such request or refusal has been determined by the commission, and a written order suspending payment issued.
(4) If the employer controverts the right to compensation he shall file with the commission, on or before the fourteenth (14th) day after he has knowledge of the alleged injury or death, a notice in accordance with a form prescribed by the commission, stating that the right to compensation is controverted, the name of the claimant, the name of the employer, the date of the alleged injury or death, and the grounds upon which the right to compensation is controverted. Failure to file this notice shall not prevent the employer raising any defense where claim is subsequently filed by the employee, nor shall the filing of the notice preclude the employer raising any additional defense.
(5) If any installment of compensation payable without an award is not paid within fourteen (14) days after it becomes due, as provided in subsection (2) of this section, there shall be added to such unpaid installment an amount equal to ten percent (10%) thereof, which shall be paid at the same time as, but in addition to, such installment unless notice is filed under subsection (4) of this section, or unless such nonpayment is excused by the commission after a showing by the employer that owing to conditions over which he had no control such installment could not be paid within the period prescribed for the payment.
(6) If any installment payable under the terms of an award is not paid within fourteen (14) days after it becomes due, there shall be added to such unpaid installment an amount equal to twenty percent (20%) thereof, which shall be paid at the same time as, but in addition to, such compensation unless review of the compensation order making such award is had.
(7) Within thirty (30) days after the final payment of compensation has been made, the employer shall send to the commission a notice in accordance with a form prescribed by the commission, stating that such final payment has been made, the total amount of compensation paid, the name of the employee and of any other person to whom compensation has been paid, the date of the injury or death, and the date to which compensation has been paid. If the employer fails so to notify the commission within such time, the commission may assess against such employer a civil penalty in an amount not exceeding One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). No case shall be closed nor any penalty be assessed without notice to all parties interested and without giving to all such parties an opportunity to be heard.
(8) The commission (a) may upon its own initiative at any time in a case in which payments are being made without an award, and (b) shall in any case where right to compensation is controverted or where payments of compensation have been stopped or suspended, upon receipt of notice from any person entitled to compensation or from the employer that the right to compensation is controverted or that payments of compensation have been stopped or suspended, make such investigations, cause such medical examinations to be made, hold such hearings, and take such further action as it considers will properly protect the rights of all parties.
(9) Whenever the commission deems it advisable, it may require any self-insurer to make a deposit with the State Treasurer to secure prompt and convenient payment of such compensation; and payments therefrom upon any awards shall be made upon order of the commission.
(10) Whenever the commission determines that it is for the best interests of a person entitled to compensation, the liability of the employer for compensation, or any part thereof as determined by the commission, may be discharged by the payment of a lump sum equal to the present value of future compensation payments commuted, computed at four percent (4%) true discount compounded annually. The probability of the death of the injured employee or other person entitled to compensation shall be determined in accordance with validated actuarial tables or factors as the commission finds equitable and consistent with the purposes of the Workers' Compensation Law, and the probability of the remarriage of the surviving spouse or other person entitled to compensation may be determined in accordance with rules adopted by the commission which shall apply validated actuarial tables or factors as the commission finds equitable and consistent with the purposes of the Workers' Compensation Law. The probability of the happening of any other contingency affecting the amount or duration of the compensation shall be disregarded. The commission shall be the sole judge as to whether or not a lump-sum payment shall be to the best interest of the injured worker or his dependents.
(11) If the employer has made advance payments of compensation, he shall be entitled to be reimbursed out of any unpaid installment or installments of compensation due.
(12) An injured employee or, in case of death, his dependents or personal representative shall give receipts for payment of compensation to the employer paying the same; and whenever required, such employer shall produce the same for inspection by the commission.
(13) Whenever a dispute arises between two (2) or more parties as to which party is liable for the payment of workers' compensation benefits to an injured employee and there is no genuine issue of material fact as to the employee's employment, his average weekly wage, the occurrence of an injury, the extent of the injury, and the fact that the injury arose out of and in the course of the employment, the commission may require the disputing parties involved to pay benefits immediately to the employee and to share equally in the payment of those benefits until it is determined which party is solely liable, at which time the liable party must reimburse all other parties for the benefits they have paid to the employee with interest at the legal rate.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.