On August 25, 2021, the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission found, in West v. The Nichols Center, that a workers compensation claim for benefits must be denied as there was no substantial evidence presented, either lay or medical, that would show the contraction of COVID-19 was work related.
In its decision, the Commission noted the lack of established precedent in Mississippi regarding compensability for contracting COVID-19 at work. The Commission reasoned that disability resulting from COVID-19 may be compensable only if there is a direct causal connection between the work performed and COVID-19, and that the direct causal connection is supported by medical evidence. The Commission found that, in an analysis of COVID-19 cases, the focus should be on whether there is proof that (1) a claimant is diagnosed with COVID; (2) the claimant has an impairment; (3) the claimant’s COVID-19 caused or significantly aggravated, accelerated, or contributed to the impairment; and (4) the impairment resulting from COVID-19 is causally connected to the employment to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
The Commission concluded that the claimant—who was employed as a nurse in a nursing home and had the burden of proving the elements of the claim—failed to present medical records or evidence that her positive COVID-19 test result was due to workplace exposure. In addition, the claimant offered ambiguous testimony and could not identify specific incidents of exposure at work. Therefore, the Commission determined that the claim for compensability should be denied as there was no substantial evidence, lay or medical, to support the claim and establish a causal connection between the contraction of COVID-19 as work related.
This decision could be appealed. NCCI will monitor for further developments.
For more information on other cases monitored by NCCI’s Legal Division, visit previous Court Case Updates and
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