Business Casual: Workplace Injuries Hurt Families Too

Business Casual: Workplace Injuries Hurt Families Too

When workplace injuries happen, everyone loses. This is especially true for the families of an injured or killed worker. Most people might assume that insurance programs like workers comp would cover all the expenses, but they fall drastically short. Much of the cost of workplace injuries or deaths fall upon the injured worker or their families. This causes a lot of damage and can destroy bright futures, which is why one nonprofit has created a mission to help. Kids Chance of Indiana has been working to provide scholarships to the children of injured workers, and their effort is making a positive impact.

 

Families Pay the Largest Share

As OSHA reports say, “The costs of workplace injury and illness are borne primarily by injured workers, their families, and taxpayer-supported safety-net programs.”

As much as 50% of the costs of an injury or death is paid out-of-pocket by the worker or their surviving loved ones. The remaining half may be covered by a mix of sources, including private health insurance (13%), workers compensation (21%), or government sources (16%).

There are other “daunting challenges” facing injured workers, as OSHA describes it. Among the worst is the pain of reduced income. Workers earn an average of $31,000 less over 10 years following workplace injuries, or about a 15% reduction in earnings.

All of these losses and costs can put significant strain on a family. There are many opportunities they might lose, including the ability to afford an education.

 

Restoring Opportunity

Kids Chance of Indiana, part of a national nonprofit organization, has made its mission to help secure educational opportunities for children affected by a parent’s workplace injury. The group has an active chapter led by Hoosier business leaders from different industry sectors.

“The benefits of workers comp insurance exist only to benefit the injured worker. It doesn’t necessarily expand to take care of the families or anything else. Its focus is very narrow. But it’s very hard to calculate loss of opportunity, especially for other family members. That’s why it’s great to have a program like this that tries to fill in those gaps – because there are some big gaps there,” said Adam Edwards, Outreach and PR Committee chair.

On the national level, Kids Chance has been able to distribute more than $27 million over the years with average scholarships of about $4,500. Here in Indiana for the 2021-22 school year, scholarships are targeted to be $6,000 per student per year.

Not long ago, Kids Chance of Indiana opted to increase its annual contributions for a very unique reason. As explained by Enrique Flores, president of the executive committee, “Our goal is currently $36,000 for the year, which has not yet been met. We increased the amount for the year because we had a scholarship recipient complete their degree, and now they intend to pursue a postgraduate program. The student applied for a new scholarship, and our board wanted to support their plans. We thought that was fantastic.”

Recommendations for possible scholarship recipients come to Kids Chance of Indiana from lots of different sources, mostly from those at the forefront of this issue. Sometimes the families themselves apply, other times it could be a high school guidance counselor that knows of a student, or attorneys that aware of a case, or even from members of the Workers Compensation Board of Indiana. To qualify for a scholarship, the parent’s claim of injury must be an accepted claim under workers comp.

 

Filling Some Gaps

Although these scholarships will only fill some of the smaller financial gaps that stem from the massive voids of a workplace injury, they certainly help restore some of the loss of opportunity. And one chance might be all a person needs to begin writing their success story.

If you or your company would like to support this effort, check out KidsChanceIN.org for the details. They are a 501(c)(3) organization.

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Category Features, Finance, Watch