Can Returning to Work Too Soon Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim?

In the aftermath of an accident, victims often wonder when they will be able to return to work. This could result from a monetary need or the desire to get back to normalcy. Many people resume work too fast as they are concerned about their employer or colleagues judging them for taking time off work to recover from their injuries.

When Should You Resume Work?

There is no specific timeline to go back to work after an auto accident. Only you and your doctor can answer this question, depending on your job profile and injuries. Victims of car wrecks can suffer from the following:

  • Physical Injuries
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Ask your doctor how long it will take you to recover. Also, remember that you are allowed to take the time needed to let your body heal. You should resume work only when you truly feel better, and your doctor declares it safe.

If you return to work too quickly, it can have a detrimental effect on your recovery. You may still not be physically ready to resume work, which can worsen your injuries and potentially increase your time away from work. Many people have sedentary office jobs, making it doable to go back to work too soon. However, sitting in an office chair could worsen your back, and staring at a computer screen could exacerbate headaches.

Prescription Drug Side Effects

If you are still on prescription meds when you return to work, it may harm your job performance. Many prescription medications that aid in the recovery of severe injuries may impact a user’s ability to undertake the following:

  • Lift heavy objects
  • Drive vehicles
  • Operate heavy machinery

Will Returning to Work Affect your Claim?

Some people might be concerned about returning to work before the settlement of their claim. They might believe that resuming work indicates that they are completely recovered and do not require compensation for injuries. This is not the case.

No specific time exists for everyone who has been in a vehicle accident to go back to work. It depends on the specific case. Your claim will not be negatively impacted if you are able to get back to work. If you missed work due to your injuries, you could still claim lost wages for that timeframe.

You do have to be better to resume work, but it does not imply that you are fully recovered. Your doctor might clear you to work before you are completely healed, but you might have to take breaks during the day or undertake certain exercises that will aid your recovery. If there was a possibility that returning to work would prevent your injuries from healing, your doctor would not allow you to resume work.

In an attempt to get back to normalcy, people sometimes tend to minimize situations. However, this does not apply to automobile accidents. The injuries sustained in these serious events are more intense than a mere bruise. The best thing for you and the shortest path to recovery is by listening to your doctor and paying close attention to how you feel.

What if I Don’t Think I Can Return to Work?

At times, a doctor gives the patient an all-clear to return to work. However, the victim may feel that they are in excessive pain and cannot handle their work duties. In such cases, you do have the option of seeking a second opinion from another doctor. They may agree with you or recommend specific restrictions on your work duties. Ensure that you get a note from your doctor on work restrictions to present to your employer.

Restricting Your Activities While You Aren’t Working

After suffering a personal injury, your recovery is the utmost priority. Thus, it is vital to continue treatment. But it is also crucial to follow your doctor’s advice on restricting your activities. You don’t want to worsen your injuries or provide the insurance company with fodder against you.

Therefore, limit what you post on social media or avoid posting anything until your claim’s conclusion. If you post images of yourself at nightclubs or social gatherings, the insurer may use these pictures against you.

Insurers Will Investigate Your Medical Treatment

In order to preserve their own interests, insurers will investigate you and your claim. If they find out that a victim initially consulted a doctor but then ignored the professional’s advice, they will try to content that an injury does not exist or wasn’t serious enough to even require treatment. In the absence of any real injury, they will claim that there is no reason to offer damages to the victim.

Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you have been in a vehicle accident in Georgia, our auto accident attorneys at Stein & Fox can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. You won’t feel the financial pressure to return to work too quickly. Our personal injury lawyers will work hard to develop a sharp legal strategy to obtain maximum compensation in your case. Call today at (770) 961-1700 to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

What Happens if an Injury Victim Dies While Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim?

Victims of catastrophic injuries can experience the physical, emotional, and financial consequences for a lifetime. Unfortunately, sometimes the lifespan itself may be cut short due to the serious injury. At times, after a personal injury claim has been filed, a victim may succumb to the injuries that form the lawsuit’s foundation. What happens if a catastrophic injury victim passes away while the case is pending?

In general, the claim does not go away. The defendant and their insurer cannot avoid liability for the injuries caused by the defendant merely because the eventual effect of their recklessness was the plaintiff’s demise. Even in cases where the plaintiff’s death was entirely unrelated to the injuries at issue in the case, the case may continue.

Under Georgia law, a decedent’s family members can essentially “take over” the plaintiff’s lawsuit. This means that within 180 days of the plaintiff’s death, the plaintiff’s representatives or successors can file a motion with the court to substitute as plaintiffs in the case. After this, the case will proceed as it otherwise would have.

But if the plaintiff’s death occurs due to the defendant’s recklessness, the complaint may be modified to include a wrongful death claim.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

When a loved one passes away, it impacts many individuals. However, Georgia law lays down a hierarchy of family members entitled to file a wrongful death claim. Below is the order for eligibility:

  1. Spouse
  2. The victim’s children are next in the hierarchy if there is no spouse
  3. If there are no offspring, the parents of the victim may file the case
  4. If the parents are no longer around, the estate’s executor may file the lawsuit

Notably, if the victim has a spouse and kids, the spouse will file the wrongful death case and share the compensatory damages with the kids. The spouse typically gets to keep at least one-third of the compensation. However, if the victim had a Will that did not award anything to their children, the spouse would collect the entire compensation.

In the sad event that a child lost their life, the parents, adoptive parents and/or guardian may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Damages Awarded in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

According to Georgia law, several categories of damages may be awarded to the deceased’s family in wrongful death cases. The three primary categories are as follows:

“Full value of life” Damages

“Full value of life” damages attempts to achieve the impossible. These damages place an economic value on the decedent’s life. This amount is quite subjective, and the jury panel assigns damages that they believe are fair. The damages are categorized as:

Economic value

The economic component of these damages relates to the victim’s “earning capacity.” These damages consider the victim’s earnings, pension, benefits, the time left in the workforce, and other elements.

This total is harder to calculate in other cases, such as the death of a child, an unemployed victim, a stay-at-home parent, or a senior citizen. Regardless, a value must be assigned to this individual’s life under Georgia law.

Non-economic value

In such cases, the non-economic element of these damages is more subjective compared to others. Non-economic damages consider that the life of your loved one was cut short. Irrespective of whether the victim was 7 or 70 when they passed, they missed the chance to create meaningful, happy memories with their family. The jury is requested to award compensatory damages they believe are just to the victim’s family based on an “enlightened conscience.”

Medical, Funeral, and Associated Expenses

These damages, as the name suggests, help with any bills that directly relate to the medical care and funeral of the decedent. These associated damages can be broad terms. Thus, it is a good idea to keep a list of your expenses and present the list to your lawyer to allow them to evaluate what can be recovered as damages.

Punitive Damages

Arguably, punitive damages are awarded in the most exceptional circumstances in any civil lawsuit. A judge assigns such damages to punish the defendant. However, as the defendant’s actions lead to the death of your loved one, you and your family will likely receive punitive damages. In DUI cases and any other lawsuit where the defendant negligently harmed the decedent, punitive damages are commonly awarded.

Statute of Limitations in Georgia for Wrongful Death Cases

Accidental death

If a victim passes away in an accident, you generally have two years to file the wrongful death case. Everything from vehicle crashes to slip and falls to worker’s comp claims is encompassed in accidental death.

Government Agency

If the victim died due to an accident involving a government entity, you have as little as six months to file a lawsuit.

Consult with Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys in Georgia

Losing a loved one can cause you to struggle to understand where to turn in many areas of your life. Our wrongful death attorneys at Stein & Fox can help you navigate the complex judicial process for filing claims, dealing with insurance providers, and seeking damages for the irreparable loss of your loved one.

We have extensive experience in all aspects of personal injury law, and we bring that knowledge to each case we handle. For a free, no-obligation consultation with a dedicated wrongful death lawyer, call us today at (770) 961-1700.