How Long Should I Stay Out of Work After a Car Accident?

On top of the pain and cost of medical bills, many injury victims face an indirect loss – the inability to work after the accident. In some cases this is very temporary, and in others it is long-term or permanent. While there are no hard and fast rules on how long you should stay out of work after a car accident, here are some considerations.

Lost wages may be recoverable in New York but the amount may vary

Negligence laws recognize the rights of those injured by someone else’s negligence to be “made whole”, or receive the compensation necessary to put them in the situation they would be in if the accident had not occurred. However, the New York no-fault system of insurance modifies this a bit in the case of car accidents.

If your injury does not meet the threshold for a serious injury, you must recover from your own no-fault insurance policy. No-fault lost wage coverage will help when your injury interferes with your ability to work, but it does not provide complete compensation. Instead, no-fault insurance will only pay 80% of your lost wages, up to $2,000 per month. As a bonus, though, these payments are not taxed.

If your injury does meet the threshold of a serious injury, you may recover the rest of your lost wages from the at-fault party. Whether or not you believe you meet the “serious injury” threshold, speak with a NYC personal injury lawyer to understand your options.

Procedures for making a claim for lost wages

Under the no-fault claim system, there are multiple steps to follow to receive lost income. First, it is necessary to apply for state disability benefits through your employer. If you have not been employed long enough to qualify, you may need to apply through a past employer. This will only reimburse half your pay, up to $170 per week; the rest of the 80% comes from your no-fault insurance carrier.

In order to keep receiving no-fault payments, you need to continuously provide the carrier with 30-day updates from your doctor confirming your disability. If your employer is reimbursing your time off, you will not qualify for no-fault payments. If you have suffered a serious injury then you may seek the balance of your lost wages from the other driver’s bodily injury insurance.

How soon should you return to work?

You may feel rushed to get back to work, but visit a doctor first. If the accident is recent, it is possible that your injury is more severe than initially appears; pain and swelling often intensify over the first several days of an accident. A professional medical assessment is important to avoid aggravating an injury in these situations.

If you do take time off, returning to work too soon could lead to re-starting the lost wage claim if you are not truly recovered and need to go back on leave. So no matter what the situation, it is wise to see a doctor before returning to work.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car crash in New York, call to speak with the Long Island car accident lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye. We are seasoned personal injury lawyers who fight for full compensation. Our initial confidential consultation is free. Call today to find out more about your legal options.

Additional Resources:

  1. New York State Department of Financial Services, OGC Op. No. 09-05-04,
  2. New York State Department of Financial Services, Consumer Frequently Asked Questions,