How Long Should I Take Off Work After a Car Accident?


No one expects a car accident, and no one is ever prepared for one either. Ask any car accident lawyer in Tampa or Nashville, and they will all say the same thing: no one truly understands how disruptive a serious car accident can be until it happens. Even the most common types of car accidents happen to all of us unexpectedly. That’s why we call them accidents! So of course you don’t have sick days saved up so you can take time off work after an accident either!

Here’s the thing: not all expenses associated with car accidents are obvious. Of course, you’ll expect hospital bills and car repairs, but what about all those workdays you missed? How do you account for the money you lost by taking time off work after the car accident?

The question is, once you have been involved in a collision, how much time should you take off work? How much time is reasonable and are there laws related to how much time you can request off of work following a car accident?

Before we get there, we want to remind everyone. Above all, remember that returning to work too early could worsen your injury. Your health is the most important concern here.

Keep in mind that returning to work will not decrease the chance of you receiving meaningful compensation if you decide to file a lawsuit. Before you make any decisions, discuss your case with a car accident attorney.


take days off work


How Much Time CAN I Take Off Work?


checklistUnfortunately, there is no universally accepted number of days you can take off work due to a car accident injury. Every victim is different, every injury is subjective, and every workplace has a predetermined set of rules that govern all injury-related absences.


Are Your Injuries Serious?

If you have been hospitalized or, temporarily or permanently injured, you will likely be given time off work. Be sure to notify your employer as soon as possible. Generally, most people return to work within a month of a car accident, even after experiencing whiplash [1]. But serious injuries may take longer. Discuss this with your doctor.

Workplace Policy

Talk with your boss and company’s human resources department to find out what options are available to you. Company rules differ from employer to employer so be sure to get all the details you need to understand your employer’s policy regarding time off for injuries.

Subjective Pain and Suffering

If you feel that you cannot continue to work because of a physical injury or emotional distress caused by a car accident, then you have to discuss your circumstances with your employer directly. Some companies are not under any obligation to provide paid time off and so you may have to take unpaid leave. However, you can usually receive reimbursement for lost wages as part of a personal injury lawsuit. Learn more about how to determine how much money you can get for pain and suffering after a car accident.

You should factor into your decision how much time you can afford to take off work as well. Keep that in mind, but remember your health is your number one priority. Be sure to consider how much work you can afford to miss.


How Much Time SHOULD I Take Off Work?


Every collision is different – there is no exact amount of time you need to recover before you return to work after being involved in a car accident.

Even if you want to get back to work right away, your injuries might get aggravated and you could suffer from pain and complications if you have not fully recovered yet.

The truth is, the amount of time you need to recover will depend on the severity of your injuries and the limitations caused by the accident. The most reliable source of information in your case is your doctor because he or she knows exactly how much time your body needs to recover.

Most doctors recommend a recovery time. Your doctor will tell you when you can go back to work. If you were not given any specific instructions, then be sure to call and ask. 

For the most part, it takes roughly 3 days for adrenaline to leave your body and for you to feel the full physical symptoms of any underlying injuries caused by a car accident. You may experience pain sooner, however 3 days is a reasonable amount of time to determine if you have physical injuries that you cannot feel immediately.


Tips for Taking Time Off Work


Be sure to follow company rules when taking time off. A car accident can be a literal and figurative pain in the neck, so follow some of these tips to ensure you make the entire process easier for yourself:


  • Talk to your employer as soon as possible.
  • Get a doctor’s note.
  • Keep all documents.
  • Maintain communication with your boss.
  • Ask about working from home for a time if you can.
  • Ask to avoid any physical responsibilities that may aggravate your injuries.
  • Talk to human resources often and get clear instructions. 

Remember the more you work with your human resources department and employer, the more likely they will be willing to work with you. Although there’s no legal precedent for this, we always believe that doing your best to be genuine and helpful, will be returned in kind.


Claiming Lost Wages After a Car Accident

You can file claims for lost wages including any vacation, personal or sick time you had to use to recover from the accident. However, not all claims will include lost wages. If you did not lose wages as a result of the accident, you can still make claims for other forms of loss:

  • Medical expenses.
  • Car repairs.
  • Pain and suffering (physical injuries and emotional distress).
  • Reimbursement for transportation and other costs resulting from the accident.

We highly recommend discussing your case with an attorney that specializes in car accidents to understand more about your rights and the claims you are allowed to make.

At the end of the day, your health matters most when it comes to recovering from a car crash. So, take the time that you need to fully get back on track and let a good lawyer help you take care of the compensation that you deserve.

Be sure to keep all your doctor’s appointments and follow all your doctor recommendations to the letter.

Get better and stay safe! And for everything else, contact a car accident lawyer in West Palm Beach.

Have questions? Call our accident attorneys at (800) 560-5059 anytime,
we’re here to help

Free Case Evaluation


[1]: Practical Management Of Whiplash: A Guide For Patients

About The Author

Michael Steinger

Michael Steinger

The Florida BarFlorida Bar Young Lawyers DivisionMillion Dollar Advocates ForumMillion Dollar Advocates ForumBest Workers Compensation Attorneys in MiamiBest Car Accident Lawyers in MiamiLawyers of distinction

MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.