Some questions I receive from injured workers have nothing to do with workers’ compensation law, but are instead about how to make it through the difficult times following a work accident. Few people can pay all necessary bills for very long on workers’ comp benefits of only two-thirds of their average monthly wage. Most injured workers must dip into or deplete their savings if they have a serious work injury. Also, if medical insurance isn’t available any longer because the injured worker can’t return to his pre-accident employer, dependent family members then go without necessary medical care. It is even worse for the injured workers who must litigate denial of their claims in order to obtain any benefits at all after months of the appeals process. Yet, people do survive these tough times, and they find a new appreciation for those friends, co-workers, employers, and family members that can be counted on to provide support.
Recently, a client gave me a very interesting book entitled The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood. This book is about survivors of various sorts of tragedies, including an airplane crash in the Andes, a failed suicide attempt from the Golden Gate Bridge, the brutal gang attack of the Central Park jogger, cancer, a mountain lion attack, etc. There isn’t a chapter on how to physically, emotionally, and financially survive a serious work injury, but I could match some of my clients’ experiences with those in the book. The book discusses common personality traits the survivors share. I see many of those traits in those clients who go on to lead happy, productive lives despite their life-changing work accident. What I really found useful for my clients, however, was its website. This website has excellent information on how to deal with a permanent injury, how to handle financial problems following a reduction in income, links to alcohol or substance abuse help, and divorce survival tactics.
Depression following a work injury is common. If it becomes severe, the injured worker should discuss it with whichever doctor is the authorized treating physician so that it is documented. Then, the injured worker can request that the adjuster authorize a consultation and treatment with a psychologist. While Nevada law does not allow an award for permanent psychological injuries that do not result from a physical injury to the brain, an injured worker may at least get treatment for psychological problems that result from the work injury.
If you need immediate help in the Southern Nevada area to deal with depression, please contact the So. Nevada Adult Mental Health Services at (702) 486-6000. You may also find other phone numbers and links for mental health services at www.mhds.state.nv.us. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the suicide prevention hotline numbers at 1-800-273-8244 and 1.877-885-467.
I’ve asked several clients to help me post some good news about their accomplishments in vocational rehabilitation programs, and tips to help fellow injured workers get through the tough times. So, please stay tuned.