Disability from Injury – Insights from Legal Professionals
A disability resulting from injury can change the course of your life in an instant. While your doctor treats your physical trauma, it’s also important to deal with the psychological trauma and the strain of the obstacles you must now face for the first time
A Disability is More than a Physical Challenge
For the most part, the Social Security Administration evaluates a person’s level of disability based on purely physical conditions (that may explain why many people are denied benefits), but it’s unfortunate that they don’t look at the “big picture.”
When the SSA evaluates someone for disability, they ask:
Are you working?
Is your condition “severe”?
Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
Can you do the work you did previously?
Can you do any other type of work?
None of those questions addresses the very real psychological challenges you must face since your injury. Among those who deal with people’s questions and help walk them through the emotional ups and downs after an injury severe enough to cause a disability are personal injury lawyers – and they have some valuable insights that may help you deal with the aftermath of your accident.
The Legal Side of Your Injury and the Resulting Disability
Personal injury lawyers in real life aren’t like the ones you see on television. In fact, most personal injury lawyers are very passionate about justice – and their primary interest is each client’s well-being.
Bruce Kehoe and Bill Winingham of Wilson Kehoe Winingham, personal injury lawyers in Indianapolis, suggest that you seek legal assistance if your injury wasn’t your fault. In fact, you may be entitled to damages even if you were partly at fault.
“Many people make the mistake of viewing personal injury cases as a money-grab. Really, nothing could be further from the truth,” says Kehoe.
While many plaintiffs in personal injury suits are awarded damages or receive financial compensation by settling out of court, that money doesn’t go toward a glitzy new lifestyle.
“A lot of people don’t realize that continuing medical care is absolutely necessary in some cases. Even if constant medical care isn’t necessary, medical devices such as walkers, wheelchairs and canes aren’t cheap – and they don’t last forever, either,” says Winingham. “The continued costs of maintaining a satisfactory standard of living really add up, and most often, settlements and damages go toward ensuring accessibility as well as to medical care.”
The Emotional Side of a Disability After Injury
Unfortunately, disability after injury takes people away from work. While not everyone loves their work, most people enjoy the ability to bring in income – and even if they don’t enjoy the work itself, it’s the independence and self-sufficiency that’s usually rewarding.
Becoming disabled as the result of an injury can be a staggering blow to self-esteem (suddenly, you’re unable to work) and can cause a whole host of other issues, according to Rob Greenstein and Seth Milbauer, personal injury lawyers in New York. It’s important that you know where to turn when you need help coping with these new stresses.
“Make sure you’re getting the mental healthcare that you need,” says Greenstein, “because a lot of times, people who come to us have only spoken with their physicians about what physically hurts. When they come to us, they’re stressed – they’re worried about how they’re going to pay the bills and keep food on the table while they’re getting the physical care they need.”
It’s not only about stress, though.
“We’ve helped people find counselors and therapists when they’ve come to us for legal matters,” adds Milbauer. “Stress piles up, and it’s cumulative; that means you’ll reach your breaking point sooner or later. Many people we help are also suffering from post-traumatic stress injury, and that’s as real as a broken arm or a spinal cord injury.”
Know What Resources Are Available to You After an Injury
The International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet is an excellent resource when it comes to finding out what’s available to you when you’ve been disabled by an injury. However, you may be able to take advantage of local resources in your community – and those can make a huge difference, according to the Brooklyn personal injury attorneys at Kuharski, Levitz & Giovinazzo.
“Sometimes victims of negligence, carelessness and accidents aren’t aware that there are hometown organizations who can help them,” says attorney Michael J. Kuharski. “People can dial 2-1-1 from their telephones to get access to all kinds of local help, and it works in every city of every state.”
Dialing 2-1-1 connects you with information on housing, health care and help paying your utility bills. It also provides access to information on mental health counseling, transportation services and a variety of other community resources based on where you live.
“When you’re living with a disability and that disability has caused you to tighten the purse strings, it’s important that you know you might be entitled to help,” says attorney Lonny Levitz. “There are services available in every major community across the country for those exact situations, whether you’re filing a lawsuit or you’re relying on your insurance company to do the right thing.”
From transportation to medical appointments to help finding a job, there are ways to get the help that you deserve.
“Most states have a temporary assistance program for families with children, and state-run Independent Living Centers can provide you with referral services that will help you find employment, housing and transportation,” says attorney Lisa Giovinazzo. “It’s heartbreaking to see people who just don’t know where to turn when they’ve become disabled. These programs aren’t as widely publicized as they should be, but they are out there – and if you need help, you certainly deserve it.”
In addition to help with the essentials, you can even find help filing your taxes and a number of other things that most people take for granted.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney said it best: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” You just have to know who those friends are and be willing to let them know that you cou
About the Author
Nick Kringas is Co-Founder and President of ApricotLaw, Google Ranking for America’s Best Law Firms.