Possibilities for Taking Medical Leave After a Car Accident Injuring You or a Loved One in Mercer County NJ
When you or your spouse are involved in a severe car accident, you may suffer injuries that take several weeks to heal. Missing work can be a significant concern whether you are the injured party or you need to nurse your spouse back to health. A medical leave provides employees an off-work opportunity to recover or help a close person recover from injuries after a car accident. So what benefits are you entitled to prevent losing your job while taking the time you need off from work?
How Does Medical Leave Work?
Medical leave is a period where you are not required to go to work to recover from a severe health problem or to care for a family member in poor health. It is unpaid leave, and some employers may require you to use your paid vacation or sick days concurrently with this leave.
Purpose of the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFMLA)
The FMLA is a federal law that provides time off work to recover from a severe illness or to care for someone in the immediate family (child, spouse, or parent) who has a painful health condition without the threat of facing job loss for their prolonged absence. Serious injuries from a car accident fall into the category of health conditions.
The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) is specific to the state of New Jersey. It does not provide time off if you have a severe health condition, but it does allow you to care for a child, spouse, parent-in-law, or parent who does.
Conditions Covered by Medical Leave After An Accident in NJ
Suppose you are injured in a car accident. In that case, the FMLA covers the time you are a patient in the hospital, receiving multiple treatments such as physical therapy, incapacity for more than three days, surgery to correct your injury, or if you need to be absent for more than three days as a part of your recovery. Incapacity means the injured party cannot work, go to school, or do other day-to-day activities and has been treated by a healthcare provider within a week of being injured. They have to have a course of treatment and at least one follow-up visit in the next 30 days following the accident to measure their progress.
These conditions are the same for the NJFLA when you care for a close family member who has been in an accident and needs support to recover.
Health Issues Excluded From The Medical Leave
Time off for general ailments such as the flu, colds, earaches, stomach ailments, headaches, pulled muscles, a stiff back or neck, and regular dental needs. In other words, anything that is not considered a severe condition that will require extensive care is not covered.
The NJFLA only allows you to care for a close family member, not for any injuries you may have sustained.
Specific Requirements of FLMA and NJFLA
Both the FLMA and the NJFLA can be used by employees in the private sector when there are more than 50 employees or when the employer is a government agency. The FMLA requires that private companies have at least 50 employees and work within a 75-mile radius. The FMLA requires you to work for a minimum of 12 months with the same employer for a minimum of 1,250 hours before your claim for medical leave. The NJFLA has the exact 12-month requirement, but the minimum number of hours worked is 1,000, and there is no mileage requirement. The 12-month requirement for the FLMA and the NJFLA includes vacation time, sick leave, or any paid time off. However, the base number of hours worked applies only to time spent at work.
Awarded Time Employees Can Take On Medical Leave
When all the conditions are met, employees in New Jersey are allowed up to 12 weeks a year through the FLMA and the NJFLA. Your access to medical leave is guaranteed because you cannot lose your job, but your employer isn’t required to pay you for that time. Also, you can be obligated to use your paid vacation or sick leave, depending on the company’s policy regarding using paid leave during unpaid periods.
If you are injured in an accident and use 12 weeks of leave through the FMLA, and a parent, child, or spouse is injured or otherwise incapacitated on the final day of your leave, you can use the NJFLA for another 12 weeks to take care of them. However, if your child becomes gravely ill and needs hospital treatment, your sick leave from the FLMA and the NJFLA will run concurrently because both provide time off for the care of close family members.
To be clear, you are not obligated to use all 12 weeks in one go. You can use your medical leave when it is necessary from time to time.
Is It Possible to Apply for Medical Leave if My Spouse is the One Injured?
Absolutely, you can. Both laws allow you to care for your spouse for a maximum of 12 weeks if you meet all of the requirements.
Pros and Cons of Taking Medical Leave in NJ
If you are seriously injured in a car accident or if a close family member is hurt, you are afforded protection from dismissal at your place of employment. At the same time, you recover or while you are helping your family member to do so. When you are on medical leave, if you have met all of the requirements but your employer fires you, when you return to work, they must put you in a new position with equal pay to that of your former position. But if the company downsizes while you are not working, and your position is made redundant, your employer is under no obligation to offer you alternatives.
Let Our Personal Injury Lawyers Assist You if You are Considering Medical Leave in after an Accident in New Jersey
Being injured in a car accident is frightening enough, let alone wondering how you will survive financially on unpaid medical leave. It would be best if you spoke with a personal injury lawyer immediately to get more information about how to apply for medical leave or how to seek possible damages for your injuries and lost wages.
If you have requested medical leave from work, your employer may not grant your request. Let our legal team work for you. If you have fulfilled all the requirements, you should get the leave to which you are entitled.
At Kamensky, Cohen, and Riechelson, our attorneys have years of experience handling car accident cases. We can help you apply for medical leave, investigate the cause of your accident, and negotiate a settlement with the insurance company that could help you financially while you recover in Ewing, Titusville, Princeton, Pennington, Hamilton, Hopewell, Trenton, and towns in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 528-2596 to speak with an attorney free of charge regarding your options or reach us online to arrange a free consultation. Your rights should be protected, and we are ready to do it.