Our clients often express some confusion over whether they can or should work while their personal injury case is underway. They often worry that going back to work could harm their case in some way.
The answer is, of course, that it depends. Unless you are a worker in a construction accident case, a personal injury case is not like a workers compensation case, so there are no overt restrictions on what you can or cannot do while you’re waiting for your case to resolve.
Yet there are some subtleties you should be aware of.
You must read your doctor’s orders very carefully and pay attention to them.
This is because any restrictions that your medical doctor puts on your activity can be used as evidence in your case. For example, we can use it to demonstrate the amount of pain and suffering that you’re dealing with.
If you break your doctor’s orders there’s a possibility the insurance company will find out and use that to negotiate your award a lot lower.
They may put you under surveillance to find out, or they just might locate your current job and job title and demonstrate all the ways the job requirements might break doctor’s orders.
If you do get a job, make sure that the requirements are a match for your doctor’s orders and furnish your employer with a copy of your doctor’s orders so that you can ask for reasonable accommodations.
In many catastrophic injury cases it simply is not that feasible to return to work after the accident. You may need many months of healing and physical therapy. Your injuries might be far too severe to work for more than a few hours. You may be on prescription drugs which make it unsafe to work.
Finances can get tight while waiting on a personal injury settlement, but we can often help you tap into other benefits or programs that can help you while you’re waiting.
Ideally, your main job will be healing the damage that’s been done to you. Going back to work before you’re ready can increase the damage that you’re suffering. In addition, it could leave you open to claims that you’re not “mitigating" your damages, which can reduce your personal injury award. If you exacerbate your injuries while working the insurance company will claim that they are not liable for the exacerbation.
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Ultimately decisions about whether you return to work should be made with your lawyer’s input. That way you can asses the impact the move might have in your specific case.
Reach out to Jaroslawicz & Jaros to schedule a case evaluation today.