Car accidents can be distressing, often causing serious injuries that may take days, weeks, or months to heal. After an accident, your primary focus should be on your health, but you might also worry about missing work while you recover.

A 2021 study found that in the U.S., people typically missed 11 days of work due to non-fatal injuries. The duration increased to 19.8 days for traumatic brain injuries and 23.5 days for injuries from car accidents.

When putting in your time off request after a crash, take the time needed to achieve Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) — the stage where you’ve recovered as fully as possible from your injuries. Read on to learn how this action not only protects your health, but also safeguards your right to receive full compensation after the accident.

How Long Might You Need Off Work After a Crash?

After a car crash, the length of time you need off work largely depends on the nature and severity of your injuries. While each case is different, here are some general estimates for recovery times from common car crash injuries:

Injury Type Standard Recovery Process Recovery for Severe Cases
Broken Arm 6 to 8 weeks: Rest, immobilization with cast or sling, pain management Several months: Surgical intervention, followed by physical therapy, gradual regain of mobility
Broken Leg 6 to 8 weeks: Immobilization with a cast, limited mobility, pain management Several months to a year: Surgery, followed by extensive rehabilitation and physiotherapy
Bruised Ribs 4 to 6 weeks: Rest, avoid strenuous activity, pain management N/A
Spinal Injury Several weeks to 6 months at fastest recovery rate: Rest, possible use of back brace, gentle physical therapy Months to years: Surgical treatment if needed, intensive rehabilitation, long-term physical therapy
Neck Injury Up to 3 months: Rest, avoid sudden movements, possible use of neck brace Months to years: Treatment for severe cases may include surgery, intensive physical and occupational therapy
Concussion/TBI   Rest, avoid physical and cognitive strain, gradual return to normal activities Weeks to months: Extended rest, cognitive therapy, and gradual increase in activities for severe cases


When Should You Return to Work?

The timing of your return to work following a car crash is contingent upon your doctor’s recommendation. They will assess the extent of your injuries, monitor your recovery progress, and consider the requirements of your job to decide when it is safe for you to resume work.

For example, if you’re a delivery driver who suffered a back injury in a car crash, your doctor will consider the specific demands of your job, such as lifting heavy packages and driving for extended periods. They’ll decide when you’ve made enough progress to handle these tasks safely, ensuring you don’t return too soon and risk further injury.

Remember, feeling better doesn’t mean you’re fully healed. Returning too soon, especially with internal, spinal, neck, or brain injuries, could worsen your condition. Your doctor might recommend a gradual return with adjusted duties or hours if you have not fully recovered.

Keep your employer informed about your health status and doctor’s recommendations.

Could Returning to Work Too Early Impact My Claim?

Returning to work before reaching MMI can impact any injury settlement from the other driver’s insurance. This includes the following potential consequences:

  • Reduced compensation: If you return to work before fully recovering, insurance companies may interpret it as evidence of a complete recovery. They may offer a lower settlement amount, arguing that you don’t need further medical treatment or compensation for any further treatment.
  • Questioning injury severity: Resuming work too soon can give the impression that your injuries are less severe than reported. Insurance companies could use this as grounds to reduce the size of the settlement you are seeking.
  • Impact on future medical claims: Returning to work before fully healing can complicate the ability to get compensation for any medical expenses that are billed to you past this point. Insurers may argue that health issues arising after you’re back at work aren’t related to your accident. This could limit the likelihood of receiving coverage for additional treatments under your accident claim.
  • Difficulty in claiming additional time off: Returning to work prematurely and experiencing a worsening of your condition may make it more challenging to request additional time off. Insurers or employers might view further leave with skepticism, particularly if you have been working while injured.
  • Affecting long-term disability claims: Going back to work early and then developing long-term health issues due to the strain on your unhealed injuries can make future claims more difficult. Insurers might use your early return as a basis to challenge the prolonged effects of your injuries, which could influence your qualification for long-term disability benefits.

Protect Your Right to Fair Compensation with Wagner Reese

Returning to your everyday life as soon as possible after a crash is a good goal to have, but not at the cost of your health and legal rights. If you suffered injuries in a collision and are unsure what to do next, our experienced Indiana car crash lawyers at Wagner Reese can guide you through the process.

We can analyze your diagnosis and treatment records and consult with expert medical professionals to assess MMI for your injury. Our team can, based on input from your doctor, help advise you on how much time to take off work and steps to take during the transition to protect your rights to full compensation for your injuries.

Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you get the funds necessary to ease your financial burden so that you can focus on recovering.