Tips for Protecting Yourself Financially if an Injury Prevents You From Working

Injury

We all make plans for the future, but usually those plans involve moving forward. We don’t plan what we will do if an injury stops us in our tracks and prevents us from working.

Medical needs and expenses can quickly overwhelm us at a time when income disappears. Statistics show that many of us will face a debilitating injury that prevents us from working at least once during our careers. Here are some facts to consider and strategies to help you recover.

Surprising Causes of Traumatic Injuries for Working Professionals

Many people think of workplace injuries as involving employees working in factories or on construction sites. The fact is that people in all professions suffer disabling injuries on the job every day. Some examples include:

  • An accountant trips on a loose electrical cord while rising from his desk, falls, and suffers multiple fractures to the arms
  • A nurse in a storeroom is hit by a piece of equipment improperly placed on a high shelf, suffering severe injuries to her head
  • An administrator reaches for files in the back of a drawer and suffers a herniated disc, making it impossible to sit or stand without extreme pain
  • A sales rep suffers traumatic brain injuries in a car accident while driving to meet with a client
  • A researcher stands on a chair to reach an upper shelf and falls, breaking bones and suffering nerve damage that leads to incontinence.
  • Repetitive motions from typing make a writer’s hands so numb it becomes impossible to print or type

Though it might sound strange, the increasing reliance on cell phones makes all of us more vulnerable to injuries. The incidence of concussions and other injuries caused by people walking into walls while looking at their phones has increased tremendously over the past 15 years. People expect us to be on call and respond immediately on our phones, and the results can be disastrous if we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Effects of a Serious Accident Can Go Beyond What You Expect

If you suffer serious injuries, you are likely to require extensive medical care. This can be extremely expensive. You may need specialized equipment. Even something as simple as a knee brace can cost $1,500 or more. A motorized wheelchair can cost $20-30,000.

You may need to adapt your lifestyle just to cope. If you can’t drive, you may need to pay for expensive taxis or rideshare services just to get to the doctor. If you can’t cook, you have to buy prepared food. You may even need to pay an assistant to help you bathe and dress.

All of these added expenses come at a time when your injuries prevent you from working. The stress of trying to manage can actually increase your physical ailments.

Strategies to Manage Your Finances

You know the saying about an ounce of prevention. If you have an accident or disability insurance, it can provide much-needed income to make up for the wages you are unable to earn. Other sources of income could be available depending on your situation:

  • You might have short or long-term disability insurance through your employer, so that is one of the first factors to check.
  • If your injury causes a long-term disability, you could be eligible for disability benefits. Workers who have paid into the Social Security system in the U.S., for instance, can apply for Social Security Disability benefits.
  • Employees injured on the job in the U.S. can often receive wage and medical benefits through the workers’ compensation insurance of their employer. Insurers do not want to pay, of course, so injured workers often need to request a hearing and work with an attorney to get their benefits approved.
  • If the injuries result from another person’s negligence, then you could recover substantial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. For instance, a property owner might be liable for a loose handrail that led to a fall, or a delivery company could be held liable if one of their drivers failed to keep their eyes on the road and caused an accident.

Find Ways to Move Forward

It is easy to succumb to fear and worry when an injury keeps you from working. It is important to remember that help is available for those who seek it. Ask questions and explore all your options. You have nothing to lose—except your losses.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.