It is very common for accident victims to push to get back to work too soon after a car crash in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. There are several valid reasons people may do this, but whatever the reason is, going back to work too soon can cause injured victims some real problems.
Schmidt Kramer talks about some of the risks of returning to work too soon and why injured victims may often choose to do this.
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Why Would Injured Victims Return to Work Before They Have Fully Recovered?
Injured accident victims may often push to return to work sooner than they should for reasons that make total sense, such as:
- Needing money to help pay the unexpected bills: If not working while recovering from injuries sustained in the crash, even regular living expenses can add a significant financial burden.
- Worrying about losing their job: Injured crash victims may be especially concerned that staying home, even when better for their health, could cost them their job.
- Feeling guilty for not bringing in enough money: Crash victims who also have a family to take care of may feel guilty at being unable to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
- Being depressed: Recovering at home can take a long time. Victims may miss socializing and having fun, catching up with co-workers or feeling like they are achieving important goals. In all, they may just miss the way their life was before the car crash that injured them
These are all normal and valid concerns, however, returning to work too soon could cause real problems for an injury victim, physically, financially and legally.
Do You Know the Risks You May Face if You Return to Work Too Soon?
While getting back to work as soon as possible shows a sense of responsibility, in the end, it does more harm than good. It is important to follow your doctor’s orders and not return to work until he or she discharges you. There are some really important reasons for this:
Injury/Reinjury Becomes More Likely
If you were injured and returned to work too soon, you could end up hurting the same part of your body again. If you injure the same area again, it will make your recovery time even longer. In more severe cases, it can mean you will be unable to fully recover. Even if you are able to avoid getting reinjured, you could cause a compensation injury.
For example, say you take care to avoid walking on an injured leg, but put more pressure on your good leg. This increased weight, usage, and pressure could then end up causing you to injure your good leg in some way. This latter damage is called a compensation injury.
The problem is that both of these situations, while unintentional, can result in more damage. More damage usually means more costs that could get placed on the defendant. This is not something insurance companies look kindly on, as injured victims are expected to mitigate their damages. When victims fail to properly mitigate their damages, it could end up hurting their injury claims.
Returning to Work Too Soon May Have a Negative Emotional Impact
Going back to work at any point after suffering a severe car crash injury does not guarantee you will be able to work to the same capacity as before the accident. Many injured victims are not emotionally prepared for this. This can lead to frustration, depression, and even anger. In the long run, victims may become even less productive, lose hope of ever getting better and maybe even feel like they do not want to work anymore. The emotional state of an injured victim who feels this way could also delay his or her ability to get better.
As for your boss, it can have a negative impact on how he or she views your work. At the end of the day, your employer is still going to expect good work from you, even if you are not feeling 100 percent recovered.
Medication Can Impact Your Ability to Work Safely
Many injured victims in a state of recovery may still need medication to help them with pain management. This is especially true if they are doing more physical activity than the doctor has cleared them to do.
If you return to work too soon and are also continuing a prescribed medication that causes any side effects, such as drowsiness, things could go badly wrong.
Whether you work an office job, are in management or work on a construction site, you could be putting your job, as well as the safety of yourself and others at risk.
Office workers may have to operate shredders, paper cutters or other machines that can cause injury. Construction workers may have to work in elevated places or be responsible for the operation of dangerous or heavy machinery.
If you are a manager driving a client to a business lunch, you could nod off at the wheel and cause a crash because your medication is making you drowsy.
As you can see, no matter what industry you work in, it is better for your health, your job and others to fully recover before you go back to work.
What if Your Boss is Trying to Force You to Go Back to Work Too Soon?
While employers cannot legally force you to go back to work too soon, they can apply pressure to make you feel like you have to in order to keep your job. However, if you run into this issue, you should speak with an attorney to ensure your legal rights and best interests are protected.
Rather than going back before you complete your treatment, there are some things you can do to help protect your job. These and other steps go a long way to help make sure your employer knows you want to come back to work when you have recovered, including:
- Notify your employer about the car crash: Make sure you do not delay telling your employer you were injured in a car crash, even if another family member has to relay that information on your behalf.
- Document your symptoms: From the beginning, keep a record of your symptoms, the treatment you receive, how you progress with your recovery and how your injuries are impacting your daily life.
- Do not skip appointments or follow-up care: Missing appointments or not finishing your medical treatments is a bit like saying you are not really hurt that badly. This can cost you thousands of dollars in compensation for treatments you may need to recover.
- Stay in touch with your employer: Call or email your employer regularly to let him or her know about your progress and when you expect to return to work. This one step goes a long way in letting your employer know you are actively working to recover so you can get back to work.
- Get a detailed doctor’s note for your return: Be sure your doctor provides a detailed note about the proof of your injuries, including how you have followed through on your plan of care. Giving so many details to your employer might seem over the top to some. However, this step helps to establish the severity of your injuries to your employer, while also showing why the time off from work you had was both reasonable and necessary.
- When you return to work: Make sure your doctor provides information about any restrictions you may initially have. For instance, if your job requires a lot of standing, but you cannot stand for more than 15 minutes at a time.
What is the Insurance Company’s Take if You Go Back Before Your Doctor Discharges You?
If you are injured in a Pennsylvania car crash, your Personal Injury Protection insurance will be used to cover your medical bills initially, no matter who is liable for the accident. If an attorney determines you are eligible to pursue additional compensation for your damages, such as pain and suffering, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit
Whether your damages are paid under your policy or the policy of the at-fault party, the insurance company will look for ways to reduce how much they have to pay you. This is why the insurance company carefully monitors your actions, testimony and credibility throughout the legal process. They will work hard to reduce the amount of your claim or fully deny it.
This is yet another reason why returning to work too soon could have a negative impact on you and your claim. To the insurance company, if you have recovered enough to go back to work, your injuries were not as bad as you first claimed. They may even try to cast doubt on your credibility. As an injury victim, your credibility is critical to the success of your claim.
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