Nov. 14 marked the beginning of Kids’ Chance Awareness Week, dedicated to highlighting the devastating affects a parent’s workplace injuries can have on their ability to pay for their children’s education. Kids’ Chance provides college scholarships for children with a parent who was injured or killed at work.
While this is a wonderful program, it only helps remedy one of the ways family members are affected when one of them is injured or killed on the job.
How is Workers’ Compensation Supposed to Help?
Workers’ compensation was implemented because it theoretically provides a fair and efficient outcome for all the parties in the event of a workplace injury.
Injured workers receive compensation and medical treatment for their injury in a timely manner, but they give up their right to sue their employer. On the other hand, employers benefit by not having to worry about being sued and paying for damages far in excess of what workers compensation insurance costs them.
But while workers compensation can cover the basic necessities, like housing, food, and other basic living expenses, children of injured workers can still suffer from negative effects of their parents’ diminished income.
The Broader Consequences of Workplace Injuries
Struggling to meet basic necessities adds tension to the home, and can increase the stress between spouses, children and other family members, and strain relations with friends, colleagues, and supervisors, according to a report on the cost of workplace injuries published by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration.
If a parent is injured on the job, varying levels of care will need to be provided for them depending on the severity of their injury. If the main bread winner is injured, the home’s income will be cut, and it may be difficult for the other parent to supplement that income when they also need to care for their spouse, do chores, and be there for the children.
An injury sustained at work is even more overwhelming for a single-parent home to cope with. The economic impacts are more devastating, and there may not be anyone to care for an injured parent. If that duty falls to the children, their lives will drastically change — perhaps even at the cost of their education, according to an article published in the American Journal of Public Health.
This is where organizations like Kids’ Chance of America is able to help, providing scholarships and planning tools to assist children in affected homes. The importance of the oft-overlooked aspect of workplace injury is so pronounced that the White House even recognized Kids Chance Awareness Week.
Injury Begets Injury
Aside from causing economic and family difficulties, workplace injuries have been found to increase the likelihood that a family member also sustains an injury.
A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Northern Kentucky University found that family members of severely injured workers filed more healthcare claims than family members of non-severely injured workers for fractures, sprains, joint dislocations, and other muscle and bone disorders.
The study considered workers “severely injured” if they received replacement wages and missed at least seven days of work. The goal of the study was to find out how an injured family member affected the rest of the people in the home.
The researchers found that in the three months after a workplace injury, family members were 34 percent more likely to sustain a musculoskeletal injury. They estimated the nationwide cost of these injuries to be $29 to $33 million annually.
These injuries only further the economic strain already placed on the home by the original injury. However, for this injury there is no compensation to replace even some of the wages that could be lost as a result.
Does Workers’ Compensation Even Help Injured Workers?
If you are injured at work, it is important to file a workers compensation claim.
As we outlined above, the time immediately after a family member is injured at work is particularly strenuous. By filing a workers’ compensation claim, you are alleviating some of the strain your injury will place on your family.
However, if you are not receiving the replacement wages you deserve or feel like you are not receiving proper medical care, workers’ compensation problems can make a difficult situation worse. If you think something like that is happening to you, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys may be able to help.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to find out if our attorneys can help with your workers compensation claim.