When you are so hurt that you can no longer work in your chosen occupation, you need to consider your options and find ways to secure a living despite a permanent disability. A career-ending injury doesn’t have to be a death sentence if you play your cards right.
What Is a Career-Ending Injury?
A career-ending injury is an injury acquired in the workplace or related to your work that is so severe that it can prevent you from doing the job you had at the time of the injury. Career ending injuries include amputations, bone fractures, severe burns, vision or hearing loss, and much more.
Less severe injuries can have a serious impact on your career as well, such as orthopedic issues if you are an athlete or muscle spasms if you are a musician. Any injury that prevents you from doing your job properly can be a career-ending injury.
The most exposed people are those with physically demanding jobs like athletes or industrial workers. But any career can be brought to a full halt if the injury is serious enough, such as blindness.
My Career Has Ended due to Injury: What’s Next?
When you cannot return to work following work-related severe harm, you have several options to ensure a stream of income that can keep you and your family finances afloat. If you are an employee, there are several benefits you can tap under workers’ compensation insurance program, which can cover both medical expenses and lost wages while away from work.
If you are an independent contractor or business owner, you can file a lawsuit against the party who is liable for your injuries and get multi-million-dollar compensation. Unlike workers’ comp, a personal injury lawsuit can result in monetary compensation for your physical and emotional pain as well but prepare for a lengthy battle.
Step 1: Apply for Disability Benefits
Under workers’ compensation laws, you can tap various disability benefits if you were injured or got sick at work. In the case of a career-ending injury, you might want to consider applying for permanent total disability (PPD). Around 73% of disabled workers in the U.S. apply for temporary disability, while 27% tap PPD after being harmed on the job.
In order to qualify for PPD, you’ll need to:
- Prove that your employer has workers’ compensation insurance
- Be an employee at the moment of the injury
- Meet eligibility criteria
- The injury needs to be work-related
- File a workers’ comp claim.
You will get PPD benefits only if your injuries are beyond recovery, and your treating physician can attest that your condition can no longer improve despite treatment. In some states, you are automatically eligible for PPD if you have received temporary disability benefits for more than two years.
Under workers’ comp, you can also get temporary total disability (TTD) benefits from your employer’s workers comp insurance carrier. To qualify, you’ll need to:
- File a workers’ comp claim,
- Be eligible for workers’ comp benefits
- Your injuries need to be work-related
- Seek medical treatment
- Be unable to work for a certain number of days.
Another type of disability benefits you can tap as a (former) employee is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. You can check out this link for the official guide to applying for SSDI. The chief takeaway is that your career-ending medical condition needs to prevent you from doing any work in any industry in order to qualify for SSDI.
Step 2: Seek Personal Injury Compensation
As a rule of thumb, if you filed for workers’ comp disability benefits, you can no longer bring a personal injury case against your employer, even if they directly caused your injuries due to gross negligence. Workers’ comp programs are designed to shield both employees and employers from financial ruin when work-related injuries occur.
However, you can stack up both workers comp benefits and a personal injury settlement or verdict if the one responsible for your injuries is a third party, not your employer.
As a non-employee, a personal injury claim is the only way you can recover monetary compensation for your financial loss and your pain and your suffering in the aftermath of a career-ending injury.
Personal injury compensation can include:
- Cost of medical care (past, present, and future)
- Lost income
- Loss of future earnings
- Property damage
- Household expenses
- Pain and suffering
A career-ending injury can have devastating consequences on both you and your loved ones. But there are steps you can take to ensure your family is financially secured even if you can no longer work in the occupation of your choice.
These steps include tapping various benefits under private and public insurance programs along with compensation for personal injury. If you choose the litigation path, make sure that you have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side as an attorney can make or break a personal injury case.