Man with laptop at work holding neck in pain

My Injury is Affecting My Work

An accident injury can affect many areas in your life. Pain, recovery time, and the inability to exercise are probably among your first thoughts. The toll an injury can take on your working life is one few people consider until they actually experience it.

How An Injury May Affect Your WorK

There are several ways an injury may impact your working life; your ability to concentrate, carry out complex mental tasks, work for an extended time period and carry out physical tasks may all be impacted.

Being able to concentrate is something you may struggle regularly with if you are even able to carry out the tasks of your employment. You could be in constant pain, having to shift around in your chair (if you sit all day), and may be focused on your pain and discomfort instead of your work.

Your ability to carry out complex mental tasks may be challenged, especially if your job is mentally taxing. For example, if you are an accountant or engineer crunching numbers, you may find that the pain of your injuries distracts you from maintaining the focus required to complete these tasks.

Being able to work for an extended period of time may be impacted by your accident. You may find that you become fatigued more easily, and simply cannot sustain your efforts throughout a normal work day. If you have suffered from a concussion or brain injury, your ability to focus mentally for extended periods may be significantly diminished.

Your ability to carry out physical tasks will most likely be impacted by your injury. If your work involves physical labour, or even moving boxes, removing large items from shelves, or receiving parcels, any kind of injury may make your daily work tasks either significantly more difficult or impossible to carry out.

Discuss Your Needs With Your Employer

The effects of your injury on your working life may cause you great stress and strain your working relationship with your employer. Be sure to discuss with your employer how your condition can be accommodated, whether that means taking some time off to heal and obtain medical treatment, reducing your hours, alternating tasks, or having another employee help with the more strenuous elements of your work.

You should also discuss the possibility of being equipped with assistive devices and ergonomic furniture suited to your condition, as per the recommendations of a medical practitioner or occupational therapist.

If your injuries are sufficiently severe that no reasonable accommodations will make your job duties possible, you may seek coverage under your employer’s short term and long term disability plans.

Unfortunately, most short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD) plans only cover a portion of your income while you are off work. Further, an employer may wrongly terminate your employment on the basis of your injuries, and without providing accommodation. 

How Do I Recover My Losses?

As per the above, there are a few reasons why you may suffer economic losses by virtue of being injured in an accident, whether because your injuries require you to reduce your working hours or you are forced onto STD or LTD. In a worst-case scenario, your claim for STD and LTD may be rejected, and your employer may end up terminating your employment if you cannot carry out the duties of your job.

To recover your losses, it may be best to use the legal processes available to you. You may wish to pursue a lawsuit in negligence, a lawsuit against an insurer who fails to pay STD or LTD and/or a lawsuit against your employer if wrongful termination results.

Lawsuit in Negligence

In a typical negligence lawsuit, your economic losses are recoverable against the negligent party who has caused your injuries. If you are forced to go on STD or LTD, or reduce to part time hours, and consequently lose some of your pay, the uncovered amount will be recoverable against that party.

For example, in Litt v. Guo, 2015 BCSC 2207 (CanLII), the plaintiff was a banking professional who was involved in two separate motor vehicle accidents. In both cases, the other driver was liable. As a result of the accidents, the plaintiff was only able to work part-time, and would never be able to progress to a senior level management position in the bank. The plaintiff brought an action against both at-fault drivers. At trial, the court held that the plaintiff was entitled to $340,000 for past and future income loss. 

Lawsuit Against Insurer Who Fails to Pay STD or LTD

Entitlement to STD and LTD can be tricky. Skeptical insurers will subject you to an independent medical examination that may conclude that you are able to carry out the tasks of your employment. However, the insurer’s opinion should not be the last word on the matter. If the insurer who provides your STD or LTD plan refuses to provide coverage, but you genuinely believe you are unable to perform the duties of your employment, contact our law firm in Vancouver to help support your position, and bring a claim if necessary.

In Tanious v. The Empire Life Insurance Company, 2016 BCSC 110 (CanLII), the defendant insurer refused to pay the plaintiff disability benefits. The insurer argued that the plaintiff’s diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis was not the reason for her inability to perform her job duties, but rather, her substance abuse disorder. The court disagreed with the insurer.

Although this is not a case where an accident caused the inability to work, the principles are the same: an insurer may wrongly deny you benefits, and you should always seek a professional opinion if this is the case. 

Lawsuit Against Employer for Wrongful Termination

Lastly, if your employer wrongly terminates your employment, you may want to pursue an action against your employer for such. Of course, this type of lawsuit will not compensate you for your losses in relation to an accident and only for losses of wage that arise from inadequate termination and/or severance pay. 

Let Kenneth Cristall Law Corporation in Vancouver Help You Get Accident Compensation

If you have been injured from an ICBC accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer in Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam, Burnaby, Richmond or New Westminster. We are available to help you recover your losses at 604-654-2250.

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