Upon hearing that burn injuries often require years or even a lifetime of medical care, income-related worries immediately arise. How will medical bills be paid? If the patient is an adult, how will his or her income be replaced? Without the earnings of the burn victim, how will basic family financial needs be met?
We encourage burn victims and their families to try to take immediate action to protect their financial stability. Many families wait too long to seek financial assistance, which is understandable, given the overwhelming nature of a serious burn injury. However, it is much easier to maintain financial stability by seeking help right away than it is to lose control of finances and then try to rebuild your financial life.
Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income
The federal government offers two different benefits programs for people who are too disabled to work for at least a one-year period. Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is available to people who have worked and contributed money into the Social Security system. Supplemental Security Income is a disability insurance program for low-income individuals who do not have a long-enough work history to qualify for SSDI. Applications for SSDI or SSI can be completed online. See our Links page of this Web site for more information.
Medicaid: Health Care Insurance for Low-Income Individuals
Medicaid is a health care insurance program for low-income individuals operated at the state level. Medicaid may have different names in different states. For example, it is referred to Medical Assistance in Minnesota, and Medi-Cal in California.
People who are eligible for SSI automatically qualify for Medicaid. Even if you don't qualify for SSI, you should apply independently for Medicaid by contacting your state's Department of Health and Human Services.
Homeowners' and Medical Insurance Claims
Victims of accidental burn injuries may receive some financial assistance from their health insurance or homeowners' insurance. It is also important to ask the employer of the burn victim or of the victim's spouse about private company programs that give assistance to employees with serious medical needs.
If your claims to your health insurance or homeowners' insurance company have been rejected, you may be able to take legal action to enforce your rights under your insurance policy. We can help you find an attorney to review your case if an insurance claim has been denied.
If the injury occurred at work, the workers' compensation system will provide financial compensation for lost wages and unpaid medical bills. Workers' compensation claimants, especially those with serious injuries, often need legal help to enforce their rights to full and fair compensation. If you need a referral to a workers' compensation attorney, we can help.
A Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the burn injury was caused by the negligent or intentional misconduct of another person, the burn victim may have the right to bring a private personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party to seek financial compensation. Survivors of serious burn injuries should take care to seek legal advice from experienced personal injury attorneys whose practice focuses on representing burn victims.