2006 Regular Session
To: Insurance; Judiciary A
By: Representative Guice
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 71-3-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE MISSISSIPPI EMPLOYERS TO MAINTAIN WORKERS' COMPENSATION COVERAGE REGARDLESS OF THE NUMBER OF THE EMPLOYEES IN THEIR EMPLOY; TO PROVIDE AN EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN RELATIVES OF THE EMPLOYER; TO AMEND SECTION 71-3-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE DEFINITIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 71-3-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
71-3-5. The following shall constitute employers subject to the provisions of this chapter:
Every person, firm and private corporation, including any public service corporation but excluding, however, all nonprofit charitable, fraternal, cultural, or religious corporations or associations, that have in service * * * workmen or operatives * * * under any contract of hire, express or implied.
Any state agency, state institution, state department, or subdivision thereof, including counties, municipalities and school districts, or the singular thereof, not heretofore included under the Workers' Compensation Law, may elect, by proper action of its officers or department head, to come within its provisions and, in such case, shall notify the commission of such action by filing notice of compensation insurance with the commission. Payment for compensation insurance policies so taken may be made from any appropriation or funds available to such agency, department or subdivision thereof, or from the general fund of any county or municipality.
From and after July 1, 1990, all offices, departments, agencies, bureaus, commissions, boards, institutions, hospitals, colleges, universities, airport authorities or other instrumentalities of the "state" as such term is defined in Section 11-46-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall come under the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Law. Payment for compensation insurance policies so taken may be made from any appropriation or funds available to such office, department, agency, bureau, commission, board, institution, hospital, college, university, airport authority or other instrumentality of the state.
From and after October 1, 1990, counties and municipalities shall come under the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Law. Payment for compensation insurance policies so taken may be made from any funds available to such counties and municipalities.
From and after October 1, 1993, all "political subdivisions," as such term is defined in Section 11-46-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, except counties and municipalities shall come under the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Law. Payment for compensation insurance policies so taken may be made from any funds available to such political subdivisions.
From and after July 1, 1988, the "state" as such term is defined in Section 11-46-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, may elect to become a self-insurer under the provisions elsewhere set out by law, by notifying the commission of its intent to become a self-insurer. The cost of being such a self-insurer, as provided otherwise by law, may be paid from funds available to the offices, departments, agencies, bureaus, commissions, boards, institutions, hospitals, colleges, universities, airport authorities or other instrumentalities of the state.
The Mississippi Transportation Commission, the Department of Public Safety and the Mississippi Industries for the Blind may elect to become self-insurers under the provisions elsewhere set out by law by notifying the commission of their intention of becoming such a self-insurer. The cost of being such a self-insurer, as provided elsewhere by law, may be paid from funds available to the Mississippi Transportation Commission, the Department of Public Safety or the Mississippi Industries for the Blind.
The Mississippi State Senate and the Mississippi House of Representatives may elect to become self-insurers under provisions elsewhere set out by law by notifying the commission of their intention of becoming such self-insurers. The cost of being such self-insurers, as provided elsewhere by law, may be paid from funds available to the Mississippi State Senate and the Mississippi House of Representatives. The Mississippi State Senate and the Mississippi House of Representatives are authorized and empowered to provide workers' compensation benefits for employees after January 1, 1970.
Any municipality of the State of Mississippi having forty thousand (40,000) population or more desiring to do so may elect to become a self-insurer under provisions elsewhere set out by law by notifying the commission of its intention of becoming such an insurer. The cost of being such a self-insurer, as provided elsewhere by law, may be provided from any funds available to such municipality.
The commission may, under such rules and regulations as it prescribes, permit two (2) or more "political subdivisions," as such term is defined in Section 11-46-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, to pool their liabilities to participate in a group workers' compensation self-insurance program. The governing authorities of any political subdivision may authorize the organization and operation of, or the participation in such a group self-insurance program with other political subdivisions, provided such program is approved by the commission. The cost of participating in a group self-insurance program may be provided from any funds available to a political subdivision.
Domestic servants, farmers and farm labor are not included under the provisions of this chapter, but this exemption does not apply to the processing of agricultural products when carried on commercially. Any purchaser of timber products shall not be liable for workers' compensation for any person who harvests and delivers timber to such purchaser if such purchaser is not liable for unemployment tax on the person harvesting and delivering the timber as provided by United States Code Annotated, Title 26, Section 3306, as amended. Provided, however, nothing in this section shall be construed to exempt an employer who would otherwise be covered under Section 71-3-5 from providing workers' compensation coverage on those employees for whom he is liable for unemployment tax.
Employers exempted by this section may assume, with respect to any employee or classification of employees, the liability for compensation imposed upon employers by this chapter with respect to employees within the coverage of this chapter. The purchase and acceptance by such employer of valid workers' compensation insurance applicable to such employee or classification of employees shall constitute, as to such employer, an assumption by him of such liability under this chapter without any further act on his part notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, but only with respect to such employee or such classification of employees as are within the coverage of the state fund. Such assumption of liability shall take effect and continue from the effective date of such workers' compensation insurance and as long only as such coverage shall remain in force, in which case the employer shall be subject with respect to such employee or classification of employees to no other liability than the compensation as provided for in this chapter.
This chapter shall not apply to transportation and maritime employments for which a rule of liability is provided by the laws of the United States.
This chapter shall not be applicable to a mere direct buyer-seller or vendor-vendee relationship where there is no employer-employee relationship as defined by Section 7l-3-3, and any insurance carrier is hereby prohibited from charging a premium for any person who is a seller or vendor rather than an employee.
This chapter shall not apply to employments wherein the employer-employee relationship is either that of employer-spouse, employer-parent, employer-child, employer-grandparent or employer-grandchild or any combination thereof.
Any employer may elect, by proper and written action of its own governing authority, to be exempt from the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Law as to its sole proprietor, its partner in a partnership or to its employee who is the owner of fifteen percent (15%) or more of its stock in a corporation, if such sole proprietor, partner or employee also voluntarily agrees thereto in writing. * * *
SECTION 2. Section 71-3-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
71-3-3. Unless the context otherwise requires, the definitions which follow govern the construction and meaning of the terms used in this chapter:
(a) "Person" includes an individual, firm, voluntary association or a corporation.
(b) "Injury" means accidental injury or accidental death arising out of and in the course of employment without regard to fault which results from an untoward event or events, if contributed to or aggravated or accelerated by the employment in a significant manner. Untoward event includes events causing unexpected results. An untoward event or events shall not be presumed to have arisen out of and in the course of employment, except in the case of an employee found dead in the course of employment. This definition includes injuries to artificial members, and also includes an injury caused by the willful act of a third person directed against an employee because of his employment while so employed and working on the job, and disability or death due to exposure to ionizing radiation from any process in employment involving the use of or direct contact with radium or radioactive substances with the use of or direct exposure to roentgen (X-rays) or ionizing radiation. In radiation cases only, the date of disablement shall be treated as the date of the accident. Occupational diseases, or the aggravation thereof, are excluded from the term "injury," provided that, except as otherwise specified, all provisions of this chapter apply equally to occupational diseases as well as injury.
(c) "Death," when mentioned as a basis for the right to compensation, means only death resulting from such an injury.
(d) "Employee" means any person, including a minor whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, in the service of an employer under any contract of hire or apprenticeship, written or oral, express or implied, provided that there shall be excluded therefrom all independent contractors and especially any individual performing service in, and at the time of, the sale of newspapers or magazines to ultimate consumers under an arrangement under which the newspapers or magazines are to be sold by the individual at a fixed price, the individual's compensation being based on the retention of the excess of such price over the amount at which the newspapers or magazines are charged to the individual, whether or not the individual is guaranteed a minimum amount of compensation for such service or is entitled to be credited with the unsold newspapers or magazines returned. A student of an educational institution who, as a part of such educational institution's curriculum, is receiving practical training at any facility, who is under the active and direct supervision of the personnel of the facility and/or an instructor of the educational institution, and who is not receiving wages as a consequence of participation in such practical training shall not be considered an employee of such facility on account of participation in such practical training. A spouse, child, grandchild, parent or grandparent of the employer shall not be considered an employee under this definition.
(e) "Employer," except when otherwise expressly stated, includes a person, partnership, association, corporation and the legal representatives of a deceased employer, or the receiver or trustee of a person, partnership, association or corporation.
(f) "Carrier" means any person authorized in accordance with the provisions of this chapter to insure under this chapter and includes self-insurers.
(g) "Self-insurer" is an employer who has been authorized under the provisions of this chapter to carry his own liability on his covered employees without insuring in a stock or mutual carrier.
(h) "Commission" means the Workers' Compensation Commission.
(i) "Disability" means incapacity because of injury to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of injury in the same or other employment, which incapacity and the extent thereof must be supported by medical findings.
(j) "Compensation" means the money allowance payable to an injured worker or his dependents as provided in this chapter, and includes funeral benefits provided therein.
(k) "Wages" includes the money rate at which the service rendered is recompensed under the contract of hiring in force at the time of injury, and also the reasonable value of board, rent, housing, lodging or similar advantage received from the employer and gratuities received in the course of employment from others than the employer. The term "wages" shall not include practical training received by students of an educational institution as a part of such educational institution's curriculum.
(l) "Child" shall include a posthumous child, a child legally adopted prior to the injury of the employee, a child in relation to whom the deceased employee stood in the place of a parent for at least one (1) year prior to the time of injury and a stepchild or acknowledged illegitimate child dependent upon the deceased, but does not include married children unless wholly dependent on him. "Grandchild" means a child as above defined of a child as above defined. "Brother" and "sister" include stepbrothers and stepsisters, half brothers and half sisters, and brothers and sisters by adoption, but does not include married brothers nor married sisters unless wholly dependent on the employee. "Child," "grandchild," "brother" and "sister" include only persons who are under eighteen (l8) years of age, and also persons who, though eighteen (l8) years of age or over, are wholly dependent upon the deceased employee and incapable of self-support by reason of mental or physical disability, and also a child eighteen (18) years of age or older, until his twenty-third birthday, who is dependent upon the deceased and is pursuing a full-time education.
(m) "Parent" includes stepparents and parents by adoption, parents-in-law or any person who for more than three (3) years prior to the death of the deceased employee stood in the place of a parent to him, or her, if dependent on the injured employee.
(n) The term "surviving spouse" includes the decedent's legal wife or husband, living with him or her or dependent for support upon him or her at the time of death or living apart for justifiable cause or by reason of desertion at such time, provided, however, such separation had not existed for more than three (3) years without an award for separate maintenance or alimony or the filing of a suit for separate maintenance or alimony in the proper court in this state. The term "surviving spouse" shall likewise include one not a legal wife or husband but who had entered into a ceremonial marriage with the decedent at least one (1) year prior to death and who, on the date of the decedent's death, stood in the relationship of a wife or husband, provided there was no living legal spouse who had protected her or his rights for support by affirmative action as hereinabove required. The term "surviving spouse" as contemplated in this chapter shall not apply to any person who has, since his or her separation from decedent, entered into a ceremonial marriage or lived in open adultery with another.
(o) The term "adoption" or "adopted" means legal adoption prior to the time of the injury.
(p) The singular includes the plural and the masculine includes the feminine and neuter.
(q) It is expressly provided, agreed and understood in determining beneficiaries under this section that a surviving spouse suffering a mental or physical handicap and children under the age of eighteen (18) years are presumed to be dependent.
(r) "Independent contractor" means any individual, firm or corporation who contracts to do a piece of work according to his own methods without being subject to the control of his employer except as to the results of the work, and who has the right to employ and direct the outcome of the workers independent of the employer and free from any superior authority in the employer to say how the specified work shall be done or what the laborers shall do as the work progresses, one who undertakes to produce a given result without being in any way controlled as to the methods by which he attains the result.
(s) "Average weekly wage for the state" means an amount determined by the commission as of October 1 of each year based upon wage and employment statistics reported to the commission by the Mississippi Employment Security Commission. Such amount shall be based upon data for the preceding twelve-month period and shall be effective from and after January 1 of the following year.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.