Can I Take Medical Leave After a Car Accident?

Can I Take Medical Leave After a Car Accident?

For many people, one of the most stressful aspects of dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is being unable to work. At a time when medical bills are piling up and you are trying to regain a sense of normalcy, being forced to stay home and rest for days, weeks, or months on end can feel much more like a form of punishment than a “staycation” when you get to relax at home.

Many accident victims who are unable to work as a result of their injuries have questions about medical leave. Can you take it? Should you take it? If you take medical leave, will you be at risk of losing your job?

Taking Medical Leave After a Car accident in California: Are You and Your Injury Eligible?

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), car accident victims are entitled to take medical leave under certain circumstances. First, in order to be covered under the FMLA, you must qualify as an “eligible” employee. This means that:

  • You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months; and,
  • Your employer must have had 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.

If you meet both of these qualifications, then you are “eligible” to seek medical leave under the FMLA. Next, you must determine if your injury is eligible for coverage under the statute.

The FMLA provides coverage for what it terms, “serious health conditions.”  With regard to traumatic accident-related injuries, the FMLA provides coverage for medical leave if an accident victim’s injury:

  • Requires inpatient care;
  • Requires absence from work for multiple treatments or would result in absence from work for more than three days if not treated;
  • Results in incapacity for more than three full days and requires continuing medical treatment; or,
  • Results in permanent or long-term incapacity.

If you are an eligible employee and you have been diagnosed with a serious health condition as a result of a car accident, then you can take up to 12 weeks of medical leave under the FMLA.

What are the Benefits of Taking Medical Leave?

The primary benefit of taking medical leave under the FMLA is that it provides protection for your job while you are unable to work due to your injury. The FMLA prohibits employers from firing employees because they take medical leave; and, if your employer terminates your position while you are on medical leave, you are entitled to be placed into a new job with comparable pay, benefits, and advancement opportunities. However, taking medical leave does not provide complete protection—if your employer downsizes or otherwise eliminates your position for reasons unrelated to your injury, then it will not be required to offer you suitable alternate employment.

Importantly, medical leave under the FMLA is unpaid leave. You can use your accumulated paid time off (PTO) during your leave if you choose, but your employer is not required to pay your normal wages or salary while you are unable to work. However, you can recover your lost income (and other financial and non-financial losses) by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you recover maximum compensation as quickly as possible.

Speak with a Glendale Car Accident Lawyer for Free

If you have been injured in a car accident in the Glendale area and would like more information about applying for medical leave, filing an insurance claim, or dealing with any other aspect of your recovery, we encourage you to get in touch. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 818-530-1300 or contact us online today.

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