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Q:
I’m a single parent. How am I supposed to support my family after a workplace injury?

A:

Raising a child as a single parent can be extremely demanding. In addition to the attention and care you must spend on your little one, you must also juggle the pressures of work, life at home, and family finances. Unfortunately, budgeting your pay is made even more difficult by an economy that increasingly falters. You’re lucky if your income can sustain a one-person household, let alone a family of two or more—but you do your best, which is highly commendable.

However, no matter how successful you are with balancing your income and household expenses, an unforeseen accident can quickly cause your budget and finances to topple. If you’re injured in a workplace accident, your injury may force you to take time off of work, which means less income for your family. As a result, you’ll not only wind up suffering the pain that goes with your recovery, but also the anxiety and stress that comes with worrying about how you’ll support your child.

Financial Compensation Options for Single Parents

The mere thought of having to manage your finances, care for your child, and deal with your employer while you try to recover from your injury is enough to make anyone weep. However, the situation may not be as hopeless as you think. As an injured employee, you have options for financial compensation and job security—and you may even have more options than coworkers without children.

  • Workers’ compensation. If your employer participates in workers’ compensation insurance, you should be able to receive benefits as long as you follow the rules of the system. Your claim will provide income benefits and medical benefits. Income benefits replace a portion of any wages you lose due to your work-related injury or illness. Medical benefits will offset expenses for reasonable medical care needed to treat your injury or illness.
  • Workplace injury lawsuits. An employer who does not participate in the Texas workers’ compensation program (and who does not “self-insure”) can be taken to court to provide medical care and income replacement benefits.
  • Paid time off (PTO). In addition to workers’ compensation, you may also have the option to use your employer-provided PTO to supplement the benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits only cover a portion of your lost wages. Using your PTO may be difficult, however, as you must be able to track how much you need, how much is used on an hourly rate, and how much your employer is willing to supplement. And some employers have not established a PTO program for workers.
  • Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). The FMLA requires employers to allow employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for personal and family illness. Although the FMLA doesn’t provide financial security, it does provide job security if your employer threatens dismissal due to an extended recovery.
  • Disability. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances, you may be eligible for disability insurance payments. The Texas workers’ compensation system provides benefits both for short-term and permanent disability, and you may also be covered by private disability insurance as well.

Applying for Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation insurance can be tricky because you are not allowed to sue your employer following an injury or illness. However, there may have been other parties involved in your accident and an experienced on-the-job injury lawyer will be able to dig into that further. Your first consultation with attorney Steve Lee is completely FREE, so call to schedule your appointment today, and see how we can help ease your mind while securing your family’s welfare.

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Steven M. Lee
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