As much as we’d love for money to “grow on trees”, the sad truth is that most of us actually have to go out and work for a living.
So what happens if you ever become injured at work, leaving you unable to fulfill your job responsibilities? Often, people who find themselves in this situation end up struggling to make ends meet.
Although this is a very unfortunate and scary situation, you’re not completely out of luck. In fact, there are a few rules around workplace safety and injury compensation. In this article, we’ll let you know what you need to do to help protect your finances and keep yourself afloat if you get injured at work.
Remember, you always have rights as a worker!
Tell your supervisor.
If you become injured at work, the very first thing you must do is tell your supervisor. This is typically a requirement for all companies, especially if you plan on filing a workman’s compensation claim. Be sure to follow any procedures your company has on workplace injuries to ensure there is no delay in getting the compensation or treatment you deserve.
Seek medical help.
You must seek professional medical help after an injury, especially if you plan on using insurance to cover the cost of the expenses or your time off work. If you just assume you’re hurt and can’t work, your employer or your insurance company will not honor your claim, and you’ll be stuck without compensation. Instead, if you keep solid documentation of your injuries and the treatment you are seeking, it can help move your claim along in the best possible way.
Remember that some insurance companies have an approved list of medical professionals that you must visit if you’re filing a claim. Be sure to check with you HR department or the insurance policy before you head off to the doc’s!
Discuss workman’s compensation.
Most companies need to have workman’s compensation insurance, which is what will cover the cost of your medical expenses as well as your time off work. Talk with your employer about the steps needed to file your claim, and then follow their procedures as accurately as possible. The workman’s compensation insurance will vary by company, so be prepared that you may be covered, but it may not cover your typical paycheck.
Use short-term disability.
If your company offered short-term disability insurance, you can use this insurance to cover your injury. Short-term disability will cover your pay for a specific amount of time, but typically only covers a fraction of your take-home pay. Although this isn’t as much as you needed, it’s still better than nothing. Plus, if you still cannot go back to work after the short-term disability runs out, it will transfer to long-term disability, so again be sure you are keeping accurate records to cover yourself while you’re out of work.
Opt for supplemental insurance.
If you have a secondary insurance policy that can cover unexpected expenses, such as Aflac, now would be the time to consider filing a claim and using that money to cover your expenses while you’re out. These policies again have their own procedures, so be sure to provide them with the documentation and paperwork they need so you can access your money when you need it.
File for social security disability.
The government also has programs in place to help you receive money if you were injured at work. Depending on your injury, you may qualify for social security disability benefits, which is money paid to you from the government to help cover your living expenses since you cannot work. This program requires you to fill out an application, and there are certain requirements and regulations necessary in order to qualify. Be sure to do your research and see if this is a viable option for you.
Contact a lawyer.
If you are having issues getting the compensation you deserve, your next step may be to contact a lawyer who specializes in workplace injury. Your employer should be doing what they can to care for their employees and taking responsibility for accidents that occur on their property, and a lawyer can make sure your company is accurately paying you for what you deserve. Talk with your lawyer about your case and provide him or her with whatever information they need to move forward. Keep in mind that lawsuits may often take a while to move forward, so you may need to find an additional source of income until the lawsuit is settled. If you have a savings account, or if anyone else in your home can take on another job to make ends meet, it may be necessary to tap into those resources.
Getting injured is never enjoyable (obviously!), especially if it means you’ll be out of work. However, suffering an injury shouldn’t put you in a financial situation you can’t control, and using these tips will help keep you and your family afloat until you can get back on your feet.