I understand that desperate times call for desperate measures and I know that the Virginia workers’ compensation system can put incredible strain on the families of injured workers. However, any time one of my clients tells me they are thinking of getting an advance from a quick pay lending institution it sends a chill through my body. I have this instinctive reaction because I know all too well that the loan sharks are circling and they smell blood!!
Why? Because the loan sharks are well aware that folks who feel the financial squeeze of being out of work or waiting on a hearing date or settlement are easy pray for high risk loans with outrageous interest rates. Simply put, that $5,000 advance that could give you some relief in the immediate future could end up costing you $15,000 by the time you factor in any hidden fees and the sky high interest rate.
The “good” news is that a lot of lending intuitions do not give advances on workers’ compensation claims because of the risk involved. By risk, I mean that there is no guarantee that they will get their money back because there is no guarantee that the injured worker will be successful at the Commission. There is no “jury trial” to award a large sum of money like a personal injury suit. Plus, if both sides come to an agreement and the injured worker opts to take a settlement, the funds go directly to the injured worker and not to the lending institution, so there is the risk that the injured worker could then file bankruptcy and have the debt forgiven.
Even if you do find a lender willing to take a risk on a workers’ compensation claim and advance money to an injured worker, I tell people to stay away. Look into other options – family and friends, public assistance, free or reduced cost medical care, food stamps or food banks. You can even call 211 for personalized assistance. My office has a list of state and local assistance programs for people in need. The internet, your local library, and community outreach programs are also great resources for people who need help until their case can be resolved.
If you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.
Michele Lewane, Esq.