Being in a car accident is both physically and emotionally stressful. Having to balance all the moving parts such as getting your car fixed, dealing with a rental car agency, receiving medical bills, going to doctors appointment, figuring out if you need a personal injury attorney, and worrying what to do about your job can be overwhelming and difficult.
After you are involved in a car accident, the very first thing we always recommend is seeking immediate medical attention. Your health and recovery should be the top priority after an accident as this most valuable asset that is harmed when you are in a crash. However, we realize the reality of the situation; bills still have to be paid.
Not only are there expenses associated with your recovery, but also extended time away from work may give rise to a fear of losing your job. The fear of being let go and the stress this causes puts many victims of car accidents in a position where they go back to work before they should, even after sustaining injuries in an auto collision that have not reached maximum recovery.
While an unfortunate aspect of being injured in a car accident is that if you’re an at-will employee, you run the risk of losing your job, it is a factor you should be prepared for.
What is a California at-will employee?
California is an “at will” employment state. “At-will” employment means that you may stop working at your place of employment for any reason. On the flip side, this type of employment means that your employer may terminate you at any time as long as their reason isn’t illegal or you are under contract for a specified period of time. Commonly, if your employer no longer has work for you or doesn’t feel you fit the position any longer, they can let you go without repercussions.
There are several protections under the law that makes termination for certain reasons illegal. These laws protect an employyes from discriminatatory practices or discriminaroty termination based on sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. While a termination for any of the foregoing reasons would be illegal, your inability to continue working is absent from the list.
What if my accident injury prevents me from doing my job?
A major reason why people return to work before they’ve recovered is the fear of losing their job. If you’ve suffered an injury from a car accident that prevents you from doing a necessary part of your job, your employer may choose to let you go.
Sometimes, even if your injury was less severe, your employer may not be able to hold your position open while you recover. In these situations, we try to work with your former employer to show that had you not sustained injuries from the car accident, you’d still be working in your previous position and earning income into the future.
Is there anything that can protect me from losing my job after a Sacramento car accident?
Under federal law, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (‘FMLA’) may be able to protect you and your employment for several weeks. While people generally use the protections of the FMLA when they need to care for sick family members, the protections can also extend to injuries after a car wreck.
The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave over the course of the year and allows you to retain your health insurance. To fall under the FMLA, you must work for a company with over 50 employees and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the past 12 months before applying for benefits. If you met these requirements, then FMLA could provide protection for you for up to 12 weeks while you recover.
If you work for a smaller company that does not fall under the FMLA protections, it may be to you and your employer’s advantage to discuss your value and try to work through the situation rather than hiring and training someone new. With smaller, more personable companies, trying to come to an agreement with your employer can often prove successful.
What should I do if I’m fired because of my injuries?
The law places a “duty to mitigate damages” on those who are injured in a car accident. This means that if you’re hurt and lose your job, but are still able to work, you have a duty to try to find work in your field as soon as you reasonably can. Of course if your injuries prevent you from working in a similar position, or from working at all, the duty to mitigate would not be applicable.
Ultimately, as your car accident attorney, we will work with employers, doctors, economists, and experts to determine the full extent of your damages and if you have lost future earning capacity.
If you were injured by the negligence of another, California law allows you to recover for past wage loss and provable future lost earnings. Hiring an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney is the best way to maximize a car accident injury claim and be compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Do not continue to suffer because of the negligence of another. We offer free and friendly advice to help you get back to maximum recovery in all aspects of life. Call us today to start a free strategy session to help you get back on the road to recovery!
Photo by Lucas Fonseca.