The days and weeks after a serious car accident can be an extremely stressful period of time. From medical bills and repair costs to physical and emotional pain, the recovery process can take quite a toll on your life and finances. For many accident victims, there is another cost: having to take time off work. Whether you need rest to recover, are temporarily disabled, or simply need time off for physical therapy and doctor’s appointments, the absence from work can result in lost income and, at times, tension with your employer.
No two injuries are exactly alike, and there is no set amount of time to return to work after an accident. Above all else, you should listen to your doctor. You should also consider how much time you can afford to miss and whether you intend to file a personal injury claim. If so, you can seek to recover compensation for lost wages from missed work as part of your injury claim. With these considerations in mind, you can plan your recovery.
How Long Should I Take Off Work After a Car Accident?
The amount of time you should take off depends on the severity of the injury you sustained and your limitations. The most important guide when deciding how long to remain out of work is to always listen to your doctor. A medical professional will only tell you to miss work when it is important to your health. Ignoring a doctor’s instructions could result in a lengthier recovery and could give insurance companies fodder to use against your claim later.
If your doctor has not given you any specific instructions as to whether you are ready to return to work, do not hesitate to ask.
If you have not seen a doctor since your accident, it is important to do so as soon as possible. It will be more difficult to prove that your injuries were related to a car accident if you do not have medical documentation of your injuries.
Once your doctor has cleared you to return to work, you should still ask yourself whether you are physically capable of returning to your regular duties and whether you can take any additional time off without losing your job.
If you happen to have a personal injury protection insurance policy, this policy may cover your economic losses from missed work as well as medical bills up to the limits of the policy.
If another driver caused your injuries and you are suing the other driver’s insurance company, you can seek compensation for your lost wages and sick days and vacation days you used while out of work due to your injuries.
Can I Make a Claim if I Didn’t Take Any Time Off Work?
Lost wages are just one of a wide array of costs associated with a serious car accident. While you should take as much time off as is medically necessary, you can still seek compensation for your other losses besides lost income. Your claim may include reimbursement for a number of other losses associated with the accident, including:
- Medical expenses
- Car repairs
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Transportation and other miscellaneous costs
Because you will be forced to deal with these expenses whether or not you can return to work, it is possible to make a successful claim without taking time off. Insurance companies will not be able to dismiss these parts of your claim simply because you were able to return to work.
For instance, if you paid $500 for an x-ray and returned to work the next day, you are still out $500 and may still seek reimbursement for that cost. If you choose to include lost wages as part of your legal claim, you will have to be able to show that you did indeed miss work or were forced to use your sick days or vacation days and that you incurred losses as a result. This will likely require your employer to sign off on paperwork indicating your rate of pay and how much time you missed.
What if I Am Unable to Work After a Car Accident?
Some accident victims are temporarily or permanently disabled after a car crash, making it impossible to return to work. Depending on your employer’s policies, even a temporary disability can cause you to lose your job if it lasts long enough. The resulting loss of income can have devastating financial consequences for you and your family.
If you are unable to return to work, you may be able to obtain compensation for your loss of income by filing a personal injury suit. If you are permanently disabled or have catastrophic injuries, you could potentially be awarded damages equal to the amount you would have earned for the rest of your life. An experienced car accident lawyer can evaluate your injuries and help you determine whether you are entitled to seek compensation for lost income.
You also may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance payments if your car accident injuries are expected to leave you unable to work for a year or longer and you meet the other eligibility requirements. Applying for Social Security Disability is an entirely separate process from pursuing a personal injury claim. For more information, visit the Social Security Administration’s website.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney in South Carolina Today
Even with time off work to recover, dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be stressful and confusing. An experienced car accident attorney can help make the claims process easier and increase your chances of winning the compensation you need and deserve.
If you have been injured in a car accident in South Carolina caused by another motorist, David Blackwell Law is here to help. Car accident lawyer David Blackwell has years of experience helping personal injury victims recover lost wages and other kinds of damages following car accidents. With offices in Lancaster and Indian Land, our legal team provides legal representation to clients throughout the area, including Kershaw, Heath Springs, Fort Mill and more. For more information on how we can help and to schedule a free consultation, fill out our online contact form or call us now at 803-232-7274.