After a car accident, victims and their loved ones are often first concerned about how they will pay for medical bills and make up for any differences in lost wages. Typically, these types of damages would be paid with no-fault benefits, such as those in New Jersey and New York. However, for serious injuries that require you or your loved one to be out of work for an extended period of time, many victims may wonder if they can take medical leave after a car accident and how they will be compensated.
What Is Medical Leave?
Like employers in every state, New Jersey employers must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for certain reasons with respect to recuperating from a serious health condition or to assist a family member recuperating from their own health condition. This law also ensures that once an employee’s FMLA leave is over, the employee has the right to be reinstated to his or her position. Employers in New Jersey are subject to the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if:
- they have worked for the company for at least a year
- they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
- they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
What is Covered as Medical Leave after a Car Accident?
Under FMLA, a serious health condition is defined as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:
- Inpatient care;
- Incapacity for more than three full days with continuing treatment by a healthcare provider;
- Incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal care;
- Incapacity due to, or treatment for, a chronic serious health condition;
- Permanent or long-term incapacity for a condition for which treatment may not be effective, such as terminal illness; or
- Absence for multiple treatments for either restorative surgery following an injury or accident, or a condition that would require an absence of more than three days (if not treated).
In short, the law is intended to cover conditions that affect an employee’s health such that they must be absent from work on a recurring basis in order to properly recover. Often times, after a serious car accident, a victim must stay in a hospital or rehabilitation facility that would obviously prohibit the employee from working. Additionally, time spent recuperating at home or undergoing multiple treatments may also be eligible for medical leave under the FMLA.
How Much Medical Leave Can I Take for a Car Accident?
In New Jersey, employees may take up to twelve weeks a year for a serious health condition, whereby they cannot perform the essential functions of the job, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Provided certain conditions are met, employees are entitles to this leave every year. Its important to note that the FMLA guarantees access to the medical leave and the retention of your job during the time period, but it does not require your employer to pay you for the medical leave. This leave is typically unpaid and some employers may require you to use your paid leave (such as vacation or sick time) before taking unpaid leave for this purpose.
Compensation for Your Injuries
While it may be comforting to understand your eligibility for FMLA, you should consider the full cost of the damages you suffered due to the accident. It may be wise to discuss your case with an experienced car accident attorney. If your accident involved your work vehicle or negligence on the part of the other driver, you may also be eligible to recover compensation to help pay for your damages, including medical costs and future medical expenses, lost work wages and future lost earnings, as well as pain and suffering.
Working with a compassionate attorney who understands the nuances of your specific situation can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a car accident lawyer from our team, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney, at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.