A number of our clients ask our lawyers whether or not they should try returning to work after they’ve been denied Long Term Disability Benefits, denied Income Replacement Benefits, denied CPP Disability Benefits, or are simply recovering from a serious injury caused by an accident; car, motorcycle, fall, or otherwise.
Let’s first paint a clear picture.
You’ve been hurt or injured in a serious car accident. Or, you have a medical condition (psychological, physical or otherwise) which is preventing you from returning to work.
Your doctors tell you that it’s not safe for you to work, and that you should take time off.
Your application for Long Term Disability Benefits, Income Replacement Benefits, or CPP Disability Benefits has been denied.
Your savings have been run dry. You’re borrowing money from friends and family members. You’re cashing out on your RRSP’s and other retirement savings in order to make ends meet. Your visa and credit are maxed out to the limit and those interest payments are accumulating. To say that you’re having financial difficulty is an understatement.
What do you do in this situation?
Unfortunately, the wheels of justice turn slowly. What this means is that the law doesn’t move fast at all. Why not? There are a lot of reasons for this. If you were to set your action down for trial tomorrow at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, Newmarket , Brampton or London, you likely won’t get a trial date for another 1-2 years. The reality of our civil justice system is that there simply aren’t enough resources to keep up with the demands faced by the Courts. Litigation has changed significantly since the 1960’s. More people. More languages spoken in the general population. Better science leading to an increased role of experts in personal injury litigation. Different rules with respect to the service of expert reports and admissibility of evidence. It all adds up to a SLOW civil justice system; where personal injury claims are heard.
As a Plaintiff waiting for their case to be heard, you are probably desperate to get back to work and earn an income to ease the financial burden on you and your family.
It would be in your best interest if you could work, and thereby earn income at 100%; instead of having to wait for an LTD insurer handout for benefits at 70% of your pre-disability income; or an IRB at 80% of your net pre-car accident income up to $400/week.
Before you attempt a return to work, consult with your doctor. If your doctor tells you that it’s medically safe for you to give it a try, then give it a try! But if your doctor tells you that it’s not a good idea to return to work, then you should listen to your doctor and rest. Your doctor knows best. Not your chiropractor. Not your physiotherapist. Not your massage therapist. Your medical doctor who bills via OHIP and not via insurance.
Attempting a return to work is a win-win for your LTD case, or car accident case. Here’s why:
If you’re able to work, you earn an income at 100%. No deductions. No set offs. No waiting for a hand out from the insurer. You’re getting your life back on track. The money is all yours to do what you like with it. Working will give you a sense of personal satisfaction, restore your sense of self worth, and hopefully move your life in an upward positive direction instead of the other way. Getting back to work is hopefully the first step towards putting this claim behind you so that you can close one dark chapter of your life to move on to the next one. The insurer will respect your efforts to mitigate your damages and perhaps see your injury claim as a more credible and legitimate one given your efforts at returning to work. Your lawyer may also be able to settle your claim faster should your return to work be a success because the income loss claim can be more easily quantified. The insurer may also be more eager to settle your claim now that things have gotten better for you. It all depends.
Let’s paint the second scenario with a failed return to work attempt. There is NOTHING better for a personal injury or Long Term Disability case than a failed return to work trial. The personal injury lawyer can tell the Defendant Insurer that the client is so motivated to return to work and get on with their lives that they tried to return to work and it failed. A failed return to work will completely dispel the insurer’s theory that you’re not disabled, or that you’re capable of working. Your hands with respect to mitigating your damages and trying to return to work will be CLEAN! When a Defence Expert hired by the insurer suggests in their report that you’re more than capable of working, you’ve already proven them WRONG. You gave it an honest try and you couldn’t do the job on account of your injury or disability. When this happens the insurer really has to look at your case in a different light. You’ve done everything right but you still aren’t well enough to work. The veracity of your personal injury or LTD claim, along with your credibility as a witness goes through the roof. Our lawyers LOVE working with clients who give it there all but are legitimately injured. This also resonates really well with Judges, Juries and experienced/seasoned insurance adjusters who call the shots.
The notion that because you’re involved in a LTD or personal injury case so you shouldn’t even talk to your doctor about returning work or give it a try is false. If your doctor gives you the green light to try returning to work, give it a go. You never know. It may dramatically change the trajectory of your case one way or another.