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 that it depends. 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 are waiting for your case to be resolved.
Yet there are some subtleties you should be aware of.
In many serious personal 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 before you can even consider returning to work. Your injuries might also be too severe to work for more than a few hours or you may be on prescription drugs which make it unsafe for you to work.
Finances may get tight while you are waiting for a personal injury compensation either by settlement or verdict. Ideally, your main job will be trying to heal and recover from the damage that’s been done to you. Going back to work before you’re ready can increase the damage that you’re suffering.
Unfortunately, after an injury you still need to pay for your home to keep a roof over your head as well as pay for food and all your other day to day expenses for yourself and your family. Even if you is Worker’s Compensation or other insurance coverage it very rarely is equal to what you were earning before your injury. As a result of their simple economic needs many injured plaintiffs will return to work while their personal injury case is pending even if they are in pain and the work increases their pain.
In the event you are forced to work, despite your injury, while your personal injury case is pending the result will be that you may not recover any money for your “past” loss of earnings as you did not suffer that as part of your damages. However, you may recover your “future” lost earnings if your doctor can say that it would be better for your health and recovery if you did not work and could just concentrate on obtaining the medical help and therapy you need.
The problem you will face is that New York City personal injury cases may take two or three years to be resolved by a settlement or a verdict. Whether to go back to work will be a decision you will have to make in consultation with your doctors and your lawyer.