Sustaining an unexpected injury that prevents you from working could put you in a difficult financial situation. Many people rely on their income from their jobs to pay for housing, food, transportation, and other necessities. When that income stream is suddenly halted due to an injury, it can quickly lead to financial and personal turmoil.
Fortunately, there are options available for seeking compensation if you experience an injury that leaves you unable to work. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your injury, you could potentially pursue workers’ compensation benefits, disability insurance claims, Social Security Disability payments, personal injury lawsuits, or other remedies. In this article, we’ll explore some possibilities for securing compensation if you find yourself injured and unable to earn income from work.
Workers’ Compensation for Work-Related Injuries
If you sustain an injury arising out of or in the course of your employment that prevents you from working, one of the first options to consider is filing a workers’ compensation claim. Every state has a workers’ compensation system that provides cash benefits and medical care to employees injured on the job. Some common work-related injuries could include strains and sprains from lifting, injuries from slips and falls, getting hurt by workplace equipment or machinery, motor vehicle accidents while working, and repetitive motion injuries.
To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, your injury must have occurred while you were performing activities or duties for your employer. For example, if you hurt your back lifting heavy boxes on the job, this would generally be covered. The amount of benefits available under workers’ compensation varies by state but often includes a percentage of your average weekly wages (typically two-thirds) up to a capped amount. All reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to your work injury is also usually covered.
A key advantage of workers’ compensation is that you can receive benefits regardless of fault or whether your employer was negligent. The tradeoff is that the benefits may be more limited than with a personal injury lawsuit. Still, workers’ compensation can provide crucial support if a work-related injury keeps you from earning your normal income.
In the U.S., if you reside in a state like South Carolina, work-related injuries frequently occur, especially in industrial jobs. Dealing with the workers’ compensation system can be complex and frustrating at times. However, consulting with a trusted sc personal injury attorney experienced in handling workers’ compensation cases can help maximize your benefits and make the process smoother. They understand the workers’ compensation laws and procedures in South Carolina and can protect your rights while advising you on the best way to get the support you need during recovery and your return to work.
Using Disability Insurance When Injured Off the Job
If your injury occurs outside of work rather than on the job, you may have access to disability insurance benefits. Many employers provide short-term and long-term disability insurance to employees in case of illness or injury unrelated to work. Like with workers’ compensation, these policies can pay a portion of your normal income while you recover.
Short-term disability usually kicks in after you’ve been off work for at least a week due to injury or illness. Benefits may continue for up to 26 weeks, replacing around 60% of your pre-injury earnings. Long-term disability picks up after short-term ends, generally replacing 40-60% of income. The duration depends on the plan, but it may pay benefits until age 65 in some cases for qualifying disabilities.
While dollar amounts and periods vary, disability insurance can offer important income replacement while healing and being unable to work because of an injury or condition sustained outside the workplace. This can help you meet daily expenses until you can return to work.
Personal Injury Lawsuits After an Accident
If your injury was caused by the negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing of another party, you may have the option to pursue a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. Common accident scenarios that often lead to personal injury claims include car crashes, premises liability such as slip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, and other types of preventable accidents.
Under personal injury law, you can recover economic damages like medical bills, lost income, and loss of future earnings capacity if disabled, as well as non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and reduced quality of life. To succeed with a personal injury claim, your lawyer would need to establish liability by proving the other party acted negligently and directly caused your injury and losses.
Personal injury lawsuits can lead to substantial settlements or awards if successful, although they do tend to take time to resolve through either settlement negotiations or trial. Consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney is highly recommended if you were injured in an accident caused by another party.
Social Security Disability for Long-Term Injuries
For those whose injuries or illnesses are so severe that they will be unable to work for at least one year or longer, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may be an option. SSD is run by the federal Social Security Administration and offers monthly cash benefits to those with disabilities, preventing them from being able to work full-time.
SSD has a strict disability standard. Your injury must prevent you from doing any substantial work, not just your prior job. Disability determinations are made based on thorough medical documentation. If approved, monthly SSD benefits are based on your prior earnings over your career. After two years of receiving benefits, you also qualify for Medicare.
SSD can provide a safety net for those unable to work a full-time job due to a lasting disability. But the application process can be lengthy, so applying as soon as it appears your disability will exceed 12 months is recommended. An attorney can potentially help expedite an SSD claim.
Sustaining an injury that prevents you from working can significantly impact your finances. But options like workers’ compensation, disability benefits, personal injury claims, and Social Security Disability may be available to provide compensation and replacement income depending on your specific situation.
Consulting attorneys and other professionals can help you access these remedies so you can focus on healing and getting back on your feet financially. While the road to recovery may be long, taking it step-by-step can put you in the best position to eventually regain your financial and professional stability.
1. What are some common work-related injuries that could lead to a workers’ compensation claim?
Some examples are strains from lifting, slips or trips and falls, motor vehicle accidents while working, getting hurt by equipment/machinery, and repetitive motion injuries. The injury must arise out of and occur within the course and scope of employment.
2. If I’m receiving workers’ compensation or disability insurance, can I still pursue a personal injury claim?
Yes, it is possible to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent third party even while receiving other benefits such as workers’ compensation or disability insurance. An attorney can advise you.
3. What types of evidence help support a personal injury claim?
Police report medical records proving diagnosis and treatment, witness statements, photographs of injuries/property damage, work/pay stubs to prove lost income, receipts, and invoices for expenses. Documentation is key.
4. How much income can I expect disability insurance and Social Security disability to replace?
It varies, but short-term disability may replace around 60% of income for up to 6 months. Long-term disability and Social Security disability generally replace 40-60% of prior earnings if you meet eligibility criteria.