Death of Mississippi Worker Does Not Negate Settlement Agreement

In a split decision, a Mississippi appellate court reversed an order of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission that had granted an employer’s motion to reopen and vacate a prior order approving the settlement of a workers’ compensation claim where the injured employee died after signing the settlement agreement, but before it was actually approved by the Commission [Taylor v. Reliance Well Serv., 2017 Miss. App. LEXIS 296 (May 23, 2017)].

The majority of the appellate court held that under the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Law, the settlement agreement between the injured worker and the employer/carrier was due to be approved by the Commission unless the Commission found that it was not in the worker’s best interest. The majority concluded that, as a matter of law, an injured worker’s non-work-related death, after a settlement agreement had already been signed and presented to the Commission for approval, did not implicate this statutory basis for disapproving a settlement. Accordingly, there was no material mistake of fact that justified setting aside the Commission’s prior order approving the settlement.

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