Financial Management After a Serious Injury
Adjusting to everyday life after sustaining a debilitating injury in an accident can be one of the biggest challenges a person might face in their lifetime. In addition to the difficulties of coping with the day-to-day realities of life with a serious injury, if you incur expensive costs for treatment, or are no longer able to work because of your medical condition, you may find yourself worrying about paying the bills and contributing to your household income.
When serious injuries lead to prolonged absences from the workforce, accident victims can develop additional disabilities related to their mental health, such as depression. Developing mental health conditions may require an injured person to incur even more unexpected costs in order to pay for adequate treatment.
Additionally, if an accident caused you or a loved one to acquire a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), difficulty managing household finances may be a result of cognitive impairments and newly developed impulsive behaviours that stem from the injury itself.
Financial management is an important skill. Maintaining financial stability and tailoring economic realities to meet your family’s needs can be challenging, even at the best of times. But when your life has been derailed by traumatic circumstances out of your control, managing your income and finances can be even more difficult.
If you live in Ontario and are no longer able to work because of a serious injury or illness, several sources of income may be available to help you ease the financial burden of living with a disabling medical condition. These sources of income may include insurance benefits, income from social assistance programs, legal action against the parties responsible for your injuries, and possibly more. When combined with skillful budgeting, responsible income management, and the assistance of an Ontario personal injury lawyer, seriously injured people may be able to maintain financial stability during an extremely challenging time.
The Cost of Sustaining an Injury in Canada
Sustaining disabling injuries can have serious financial consequences, especially if those injuries prevent accident victims from performing the duties of their jobs. In large urban centres across Canada, more than half of the country’s disabled population lives below the poverty line.
Preventable injuries are the leading cause of death for Canadians under the age of 45. On a national-scale, the costs associated with preventable injuries are rising at an unsustainable rate. At the moment, on average, preventable injuries lead to the deaths of more than 40 Canadians per day. By 2035, it is estimated that more than 70 Canadians per day will be killed by preventable injuries, costing $75 billion in losses to the Canadian economy each year.
It may be difficult to fathom the high costs associated with preventable injuries on such a large, national scale. In order to really grasp the overwhelming costs individuals may incur as the result of serious injuries they’ve sustained in an accident, it may be helpful to examine the average lifetime costs of different preventable medical conditions.
According to a recent study published by Cambridge University Press, lifetime costs of medical treatment for severe TBIs can range from $600,000 to $1.8 million per case. This figure only addresses the cost of medical care, and does not include the costs associated with lost productivity, valued ten times higher than the medical costs of treating the patient’s brain injury.
People who have sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) may face an even greater financial burden. According to research available through the National Library of Medicine, a single Canadian’s estimated lifetime expenses resulting from a severe SCI may range from $1.5 million to $3 million.
Money Management Tips for Life After an Injury
It’s clear that, depending on the severity of injuries that can be sustained in an accident, the cost of related care can quickly become unmanageable. The overwhelming expense of medical treatment, coupled with a disabled accident victim’s inability to collect their normal wages may cause them to experience financial distress. Coping with these financial difficulties can be especially difficult for those with permanent, debilitating injuries that impact a victim’s cognition, like TBIs. In fact, approximately half of Canada’s homeless population is made up of people suffering at least one form of brain injury.
If you are worried about your financial security after sustaining an injury in an accident, consider speaking with an Ontario lawyer for a free, initial consultation. During this no-cost assessment, a lawyer may be able to review the circumstances of your case and explain options for financial recovery that may be available to you.
In addition to seeking legal counsel, it is important for people recovering from serious injuries to have a thorough, accurate understanding of their essential expenses. If you’re having difficulty managing your finances after sustaining an injury, consider taking some of the following actions:
- Keep detailed records of medical expenses, including prescriptions, treatments, assistive equipment, personal care, and more.
- Use a calendar, journal, or diary to record dates of medical visits, consultations, and treatments.
- Document lost wages as a result of your inability to work.
- Create a monthly budget of household expenses and determine which costs you may be comfortable scaling back.
- Consider consolidating high-interest credit card debt, so that you’re only required to pay one credit card bill per month, rather than juggling multiple accounts.
- Ask for help from family or friends. Consider using an online crowd-funding service to solicit charitable donations from well-wishers and generous members of your social circle.
- Keep track of every financial interaction you make using a spreadsheet, your bank’s mobile app, or another organizational system that works for you. Doing so may be especially important for people who have sustained a TBI, and are experiencing cognitive impairments, like memory loss.
- If you have sustained a severe brain injury and are having serious cognitive difficulties, consider granting power of attorney to a trusted family member who can help make important decisions about your financial and physical well-being.
Potential Sources of Income Recovery
Depending on the factors that caused your disability, you may be able to collect income from a number of different sources.
If you were injured as the result of a motor vehicle collision, regardless of which driver was at-fault, you may be eligible to access statutory accident benefits to recover costs you incurred as a result of your injuries. These benefits provide coverage for the costs of medical treatments, rehabilitation, lost income (up to the policy limit), and possibly more.
If you were injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, whether behind the wheel of a car, or on their property, an Ontario personal injury lawyer may be able to pursue financial compensation on your behalf by filing a tort claim, also referred to as a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit against the responsible parties may be a beneficial course of action, especially when one considers that the statutory accident benefits available to you do not cover the full cost of your financial losses. These costs may include loss of past income, loss of competitive advantage, loss of earning capacity and future loss of income, pain and suffering, and possibly more.
In Canada, at any given time, between 8-12% of the workforce collects some form of benefits payments to help ease the financial burden of living with a disability. If your medical condition prevents you from working, federal assistance programs such as the Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP) or Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits (EI) may provide you with some financial relief.
Additionally, if your medical condition prohibits you from working, you may be eligible to collect long-term disability benefits provided you have such coverage. Typically, long-term disability plans replace between 60-70% of a recipient’s regular wages.
Although eligibility requirements for long-term disability benefits vary between insurance policies, generally speaking, in order to qualify, you must be enrolled in a long term disability insurance policy, either through your employer’s group plan, or a privately held policy. You must also have received ongoing medical treatment for a condition that prevents you from performing the duties of your job, and have exhausted all other compensatory options available to you, including any paid vacation time, sick days, and short-term disability benefits.
Some conditions that may qualify individuals to collect long-term disability benefits include:
- Heart disease
- Back problems
- Chronic pain or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Lupus or Lyme disease
- Psoriatic arthritis or fibromyalgia
- Bipolar mood disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- And possibly more
Even if your medical condition prevents you from returning to work, your insurance provider may decide to deny your claim for long-term disability benefits. They may do so for a number of reasons, which can often be difficult to understand. However, even if an insurance company decides to deny your claim for long-term disability benefits, it may be possible to overturn their initial determination.
If your claim for benefits was unfairly denied, a long-term disability lawyer may be able to help you appeal your insurance provider’s decision by filing a lawsuit against them. If successful, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Previously denied benefits payments
- Future benefit payments
- Legal fees
- Damages for mental stress experienced
- Punitive damages
- And possibly more
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you’ve been seriously injured as the result of an accident and are having trouble coping with the new financial realities of your situation, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to review your circumstances, and provide you with useful legal advice.