Getting Hurt at Work Can Irreparably Damage Your Bank Account

accident

From adolescence to around the age of 65, most people in the US spend most of their time working. Assuming that an average person works around 40 hours per week during that time, he clocks about 90,400 hours, on average, during his work years. Considering the amount of time spent on the job, it is not at all surprising that a large number of mishaps happen at work.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, over 4,600 fatalities occurred on the job in 2014 and over three million people suffered serious injuries in the workplace. The figures represent multiple classifications, or workers with differing levels of medical coverage. News figures shows the workers are categorized as independent contractors, and full-time, part-time, temporary, and permanent employees.

While the Affordable Care Act has provided an increased access to health coverage, medical bills can still leave injured workers struggling financially. High deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, lost wages, daycare costs, and travel to and from medial facilities show that the costs add up very quickly.

One actuarial firm published a medical index for the previous 15 years. Known as the Millman Medical Index, or MMI, the index calculates the median healthcare cost for a household of four. The statistics show that the amount spent for healthcare has more than tripled since 2001 (at that time, it was approximately $8,400), and now is tallied at around $25,800.

The increase surpasses the growth of the consumer price index (CPI) for healthcare services as well as the 2% calculated increase in median income from 2004 to 2014. Compared to employers, employees currently bear a large part of the burden for the majority of medical expenses. Reports show consumers pay around 43%, an increase from 39% during the 15-year period.

As a result, it is not difficult to see how getting injured at work can also injure someone’s financial standing. Over the past 10 years, the median amount middle-income households spent for medical care increased by just over 50%, which is almost double the growth in salaries (30%), and three times the rate of growth for services and products.

In turn, unpaid medical bills are currently the major reason for bankruptcy filings. Calculated at 62%, the costs surpass mortgage and credit card debt. Job loss is another reason that debts are left unpaid. Losing a job also means the loss of health insurance.

Therefore, financial professionals warn workers to protect themselves if they receive an illness or injury on the job site. Whether the condition is an acute traumatic type injury (such as falling from a ladder) or one that is a cumulative-trauma type condition (like carpal-tunnel syndrome), you need to take the following steps:

  • Report the injury to whoever is in charge. Be clear about what occurred and that it happened on the job. Report the injury even if you do not believe it is serious. The back you strain may not need to be treated for a few days. If you don’t report an injury then, the employer could claim you were not injured on the job.
  • Maintain good records. Organization and showing proof can make the difference between losing financial reimbursement and winning an employment claim. You need to make sure all medical reports, insurance documentation, and incident reports are completely filled out. Make sure all the paperwork is fully completed and all the related expenses are thoroughly recorded.
  • Consider contacting a lawyer. Workplace injury cases can be complex as they involve physicians, independent consultants, physical therapists, insurance company attorneys, and adjusters. Talk to an attorney to evaluate your case. The first consultation is usually free.

Workplace injuries can originate from a broad range of causes. Most injuries happen from bending, climbing, and reaching. They also result from being caught between objects, repetitive motions, falling from heights, overexertion, falling objects, slip-and-fall accidents, and vehicle mishaps. Keeping a work area free of clutter and keeping a steady pace during the day are two ways to avoid or prevent an injury.

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