When you get injured on the job and are unable to work or are unable to earn as much as you did before the injury, you may collect workers’ compensation payments that cover part of your regular wages in addition to your medical bills. This is called Temporary Total Disability or Temporary Partial Disability. But what if this money is not enough for you to live on? Or even worse, what can you do if the worker’s compensation lost wage benefits have not yet been approved or provided?
Workers’ compensation wage benefits may not start immediately after your injury because the claim is being investigated or processed. Even when approved, workers’ comp often does not cover your full salary — only part of it (about 2/3 or 66.66% of gross wages) until you return to work — but you probably have living expenses that depend on you receiving full paychecks. If you find you cannot make ends meet with only your workers’ compensation payments, you may have some alternatives.
If Your Injury Involved an Automobile or Vehicle — You May Be Eligible for PIP No-fault Insurance in Addition to Worker’s Comp
Vehicles are required to carry PIP insurance coverage in Delaware at a minimum of $15,000.00. If your work injury involved a vehicle, you may be able to access that PIP coverage in addition to receiving lost wages from worker’s compensation. for instance, if worker’s compensation is paying you 66.66% of gross wages, you may be able to receive those payments and also seek some PIP coverage to bring you to 80% of your gross wages.
Get Temporary Assistance
If you can’t cover your expenses, you can reach out to friends and family to assist you in the short term while you’re on workers’ comp. You may not feel comfortable asking for a loan, but you can request non-monetary assistance such as a hot meal or babysitting for your children.
Cut Your Expenses
As a temporary measure, you can cut back on your expenses until you return to work. Cut your cable package, ask your cell phone carrier for a better deal and stop going out to dinner. While it will be hard to sustain long-term, this could give you some initial wiggle room.
Do not try to get a second job while you’re on workers’ comp. Your employer’s insurance company could cite this as evidence that you are faking your injury or trying to get out of going back to work.
Request Disability Benefits
In some cases, people can qualify for both workers’ compensation benefits and disability. You may be covered by a private disability policy or an employer-sponsored disability policy. Also, in some cases, you may be entitled to disability from the Social Security Administration. Talk to a lawyer in Delaware to determine whether you qualify.
Seek Damages From a Third Party
Generally, you can’t file a lawsuit against your employer for your workplace injury, but you may be able to collect damages from a third party if they were responsible for the accident or unsafe working conditions that led to that injury. Work sites where this could happen include:
- Construction sites
- Transportation vehicles
Consulting with a lawyer can help you determine whether your case qualifies for such a lawsuit. Contact the team at Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya to discuss your options.