Suffering from a workplace injury can lead to more than just pain. Economic hardship from lowered pay and potential, long-lasting disability can change the way you look at employment and enjoy your personal life, but a lawyer can help you plan against future complications. Before signing any workers compensation paperwork, consider a few benefits that you could be leaving on the table.
Is Workers Compensation Enough Alone?
Although the payment rates and policies are different for every state, your compensation will often be a percentage of your average weekly pay. This might be okay if you're making more than what you need for your lifestyle, but people barely making ends meet might not be able to afford the reduction regardless of the off-time benefit—if they're even able to enjoy off-time due to the injury.
If that payment isn't enough, it's possible to negotiate for better payment rates. Signing the agreement paperwork with workers compensation insurance providers means accepting an agreed upon, standard rate, but it isn't something you have to do. Consult a workers compensation lawyer to figure out if you can get a higher rate.
In addition to negotiating for better rates, you may qualify for different benefit programs that will be covered in the next two sections.
Personal Injury Claims
Depending on the cause of the injury, you may be able to seek compensation from those who caused your problems in the first place. Some situations are deemed complete accidents with no fault until discussed in a legal setting, which can give you additional compensation.
Every situation varies. If your injury was caused by another employee, you may only be able to extract a small amount of compensation from that employee if they simply don't have the funds. If your company, a vendor, or a third-party contractor was at fault, you may have a bigger pool of compensation funds to challenge.
Earning money can affect your other benefits. Benefit systems such as Social Security disability may decrease if you earn a certain amount of money from other sources, and you may get into legal trouble if you don't report the earning properly. A lawyer can help you in this case as well by filing the proper paperwork and making sure that your legal challenges are done in a way that maximizes compensation for you.
Social Security Disability
If neither you nor your employer or vendors can be found at fault and the injury is deemed a complete accident, Social Security disability is one of the few options available. Although there are some strict guidelines to follow for Social Security, qualifying for workers compensation completes a big part of the administrative troubles.
In order to qualify for disability, you need to prove that something happened and that you're suffering to the point of needing disability. If you're already qualified for workers compensation, that means you've been medically reviewed and deemed unfit to work, and that same information can be transferred to the Social Security Administration.
There's still work to be done. Protocol is important, and your paperwork needs to be filed under specific guidelines. You'll also need proof that your condition may continue to be a problem, especially if you're seeking long-term compensation, since Social Security is meant to be a temporary recovery option.
Contact a workers compensation lawyer to discuss your options for every benefit system and to make sure that they mesh with your workers compensation plan.