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The Impact of Financial Stress on Injury Recovery

Katherine McCallum
Jun 3, 2024
5
min read
Man looking stressed at his finances staring at laptop screen following a personal injury

Physical pain may not be the only thing that you need to look out for when it comes to recovering from an injury or illness. Financial stress can be a hidden factor that many of us don’t think about until it is happening, and it has a very real effect on our mental health as well as our physical recovery journeys. 

We’ll explore what financial stress is, its impacts on injury recovery, and what you can do to help. 

Understanding Financial Stress

Financial stress is any sort of worry or anxiety that is brought about by someone’s financial situation. It could be triggered by several situations, including rising living costs, a reduction in income, keeping up with repayments, and financial uncertainty among others.

Although financial stress is situational, it can still play a big part in affecting someone’s overall mental health, especially if it is experienced for a prolonged period. This then has a knock-on effect on the level of financial stress experienced, creating a vicious cycle. 

One situation that could cause both significant financial stress and mental stress is injuries, especially those that require a longer recovery process. The prospect of being signed off from work, and not knowing exactly when, or if they can return can be a truly frightening and worrying experience that can hamper both physical and mental recovery. 

The Physical Impact of Financial Stress on Recovery

When you are injured or unwell, the main thing that you will want is to recover as quickly as possible so that you can go back to where you were before. However, for those who are experiencing financial stress alongside their injury, this can be easier said than done. 

Physical symptoms of financial stress can include:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive trouble
  • Trouble sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • A weakened immune system.

This is on top of what someone is already experiencing, making the recovery journey even tougher. Studies have shown that stress coupled with an injury leads to greatly reduced wound healing, both caused by not only the psychological stress but the body’s physiological response to it. Compensating for this additional stress can also sometimes lead people to further behaviours that could be damaging to their health, such as overexertion or reliance on harmful substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope.

The Mental and Emotional Toll

It’s not just your body that is affected by financial stress, but your mental state too. Often this presents as increased anxiety or worry, alongside depression and low mood. Your emotional tolerance could also be affected, meaning that you may not be able to cope with certain situations as well as you may have been able to before, such as frustrating moments you might normally be able to grin and bear.

Your motivation may also take a dip, meaning that even simple tasks such as getting out of bed or taking a shower may seem like daunting tasks, making getting better and taking care of yourself all the more difficult. 

These mental health symptoms can make recovery harder alongside the physical ones, especially when the financial uncertainty is prolonged, such as when waiting for compensation.  

The Impact of Compensation Cases on Recovery

If your injury occurred due to another being at fault, you’ve likely filed for compensation. Although this can seem like a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to your injury journey, the long waiting time for cases to go through the system of up to 18 months can feel torturous. 

Compensation cases in and of themselves can provide a level of uncertainty, which coupled with the financial stress may make some people cast doubt on whether they will actually win their case. If things don’t go to plan with the compensation claim, then there can be a significant financial burden on top of existing worries. “No win, no fee” arrangements seem like a no-brainer, but they can sometimes leave claimants with hidden costs and expenses such as the disbursements and other charges such as medical reports you may need to pay out of pocket. You could even find yourself liable to pay for the other side’s legal fees. 

Mitigating Financial Stress with Smith's Lawyers’ No Win, No Fee, No Catch®

Smith’s Lawyers understand how frustrating arrangements like this can be, and this is why we developed our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise. If your case goes to court and on the rare occasion it is unsuccessful, we cover everything. You won’t need to pay a single cent, and instead, you can get back to what is most important: a swift and speedy recovery. 

Real-Life Examples and Case Studies

At Smith’s Lawyers, we know all too well the impact that financial stress can have on those who have suffered from injury. Take Colin’s story for example. After suffering an injury at work, and soon after being let go by his employer, he faced financial uncertainty as his condition meant that he couldn’t find a new job, but at the same time he needed to be able to earn money to support himself and help towards treatment costs. Colin felt “angry and confused”, and was quickly “running out of money and hope.”

The support from Smith’s Lawyers meant that not only did Colin get the help he needed, but also the financial security to be able to get himself in a better place, have surgery, and eventually find new employment. 

Support Systems

Community and Queensland Support

Although we can help with the legal side when it comes to injury, we know it is just one small piece of the puzzle. There are many support groups and services out there that offer non-judgemental advice on how to manage your finances when you need to tighten your purse strings, and you may even qualify to access community resources like food banks or other assistance schemes. 

Some Queensland organizations you might want to call include:

  • The Good Shepherd Queensland Financial Resilience Program: 1300 006 616 
  • Salvation Army Money Care Service: 1800 722 363
  • Financial Counsellor’s Association: 1800 007 007

Family and Friends

Alongside professional organizations, it never hurts to seek support and assistance from close family and friends. Even if they are not able to render financial aid, they can still be there to offer emotional support for the feelings that come with financial stress and injury recovery. 

Employers

If you are still able to work while recovering from your injury, then your employer should be able to make reasonable adjustments for you so that you can carry out your role without causing yourself further harm. It could be for example that you work remotely rather than in the office, or perhaps you are moved to lighter duties while you get better. 

If the accident happened at work, you may also qualify for WorkCover compensation from your employer. 

Healthcare Providers

To help with the cost of medical care, you may be able to apply for a Health Care Card, making treatments and medicines cheaper. By talking with your healthcare provider, you may also be able to work out a flexible repayment scheme that best aligns with your current situation.  

You may also be able to apply for Jobseeker Payment, as this not only covers those looking to work, but also those unable to work for a period of time due to injury or illness. 

Financial stress and injuries can be painful, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Remember to reach out, as there are people close to you, organizations, and other professionals who are more than happy to support you through this time. Smith’s Lawyers are proud to be one of those people you can turn to, offering legal advice and support to help you through. Come and have a chat with us today.

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