When you sustain a serious injury, whether it is because of truck accidents, workplace injuries, a drunk driver, or the negligent behavior of anyone else, you will find expenses going up quickly while your income drops precipitously. You are missing work, so you’re not bringing in your regular income and are especially unable to take advantage of things like overtime opportunities. At the same time, you’re spending money on hospitals, doctors, and physical therapy. You may be spending more on items around the house that you need while you’re laid up and missing work. In addition to all of this, you may even be in need of constant care at home. This can mean hiring someone to help (more money spent) or a spouse is missing work in order to take care of you (less money in). What are your options?
- Tell your employer immediately. If you were injured at work, your employer will obviously know. But if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident or due to the negligence of some other party, you need to let your employer know why you have been hurt and why you are missing work. Your employer may be willing to work with you right from the beginning, but that is only likely to happen if you’re clear and honest about the situation. Tell your boss immediately how long the doctor estimates you will be missing work and find out whether you will need a note from your doctor in order to make everything right with your employer.
- Get a car accident lawyer or personal injury lawyer. If you are hurt because of someone else’s negligence or lawbreaking, you definitely want to look into hiring an attorney who can help you understand your rights, who is responsible for personal injury, and whether you have a case at all. Just because you been hurt in a car accident, for example, does not mean that it was necessarily caused by someone else’s negligence. On the other hand, you may need an attorney to help you sort out if someone is trying to dodge responsibility. For example, a trucking company may be failing to maintain its fleet properly but then try to blame the driver for a commercial trucking accident.
- Find out about personal leave, vacation, and sick days you have available. Before you panic about missing work, see if you can’t leverage your personal days and vacation time in order to cover some of the difference and smooth things over with the boss. But know that your employer is not obligated to keep paying you when you cannot do work, even if it’s not your fault. Unless your injury occurred at work, your employer can let you go. If you work for a company with more than 50 employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act requires that they give you 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover. You won’t get money, but you will also still have a job if you can recover during that period. If your company has more than 15 employees, they are required to accommodate you with a different job if you are able to do some work. This may mean reduced hours or a desk job, but at least you’ll have something.
- Look into Social Security. You probably should not tap into your Social Security disability benefits unless you’re sure that you cannot work anymore, but if you are unable to work permanently, it’s worth looking into this and other state-run disability benefits.
- Look into debt consolidation and mortgage help. If you have done all you can and you cannot keep up with credit card debt or your mortgage payments, there are loan modification programs offered by the government to help you with this. There are also debt consolidation companies that can help you minimize your credit card debt and get it paid off.
If you’ve been injured and someone else is at fault, the best thing you can do is try to get compensation by getting legal help. Whatever you do, do something. Don’t let your injury push you into a depression that keeps you from trying.