What Do I Do if I Am Injured and Cannot Work – Part 2
When we last left off we finished our discussion about how you can protect yourself, in advance, if you are injured in a car wreck, construction accident, motorcycle accident, highway crash or any other sort of incident causing injury. You really do not know what you have until its gone. If you have a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, a back injury, become paralyzed, or have an amputation, it is likely you are not going to be able to go back to work. What do you do?
First is what you do not do. You do not expect the liability insurance carrier for the negligent person (maybe a drunk driver) to start paying you right away for your lost wages. The liability insurance carrier, 99.999999% of the cases will not make any kind of payment until they pay a lump sum payment, in exchange for a full release. They have the money, and they know you probably do not, so they try to wait you out. This puts pressure on you because money is tight. This can result in you settling your claim early putting you in jeopardy of not being fully compensated for your injuries.
If you were working when you were hurt, say at a construction site, or your were on the road, as part of your job when the highway accident happened, you are eligible for workers compensation benefits. You must notify your employer immediately after the injury, or as soon after as is reasonably possible. The employer will then report the injury to their workers compensation insurance carrier. The carrier will then be responsible for paying all your medical bills caused by the car wreck or construction accident. After a week, the insurance company will also be responsible for paying you your lost wages. They do not always have to pay you the full amount of your average weekly wages. You are entitled 66 and 2/3% of your average weekly wage, not to exceed a preset amount. This amount changes every year, so I cannot quote it here. If you earn more than that present amount, then you will get 66 and 2/3% of that preset amount. The reason for the 66and 2/3% is because this dough is not taxable, so they do not make the workers compensation insurance company pay the full amount. I know of no good reason for the limited preset amount except to make it easier on the insurance companies.
Is Social Security available? First know that Social Security is not a short term disability program. In order to be entitled to it, your injuries must be so severe that they are expected to keep you working for at least twelve months. The next thing you need to know is that the application process can take up to three years from the time you first apply to the time you start to receive your benefits. Social Security is a good program, but it may not kick in fast enough if you cannot work. If you are not sure if your injuries will keep you from working at least twelve months, I recommend you apply any way. If your injury does not keep you from working for those twelve months, you can always dismiss your claim.
If you are hurt and can’t work, and have no money coming in, do not hide your head in the sand. Get to a qualified accident injury attorney or accident lawyer. The lawyer can start to contact your creditors and hopefully take a lot of the worry off your shoulders. Next time, we will talk about the effect of Bankruptcy on your claim for your compensation (remember compensation means to “make up for” so all you are asking is for the person who caused your injury to “make up for” the harm they caused.)