Injured in car wreck while getting lunch for coworkers... can I be fired?

by Anonymous

I was picking up lunch for myself and five coworkers in my personal vehicle at lunchtime. A cab driver on his cell phone ran a red light and hit me. He totaled my car and I went to the hospital by ambulance. I had a concussion, knee injury resulting in surgery, and nerve damage in my back (peripheral neuropathy).

I've been off work almost 12 weeks on short term disability. My employer sent me a letter saying I have to come back to work the day after my short term disability ends or I will be terminated. Can they really fire me? It just doesn't seem right.

I am still going to physical therapy twice a week along with the neurologist and other doctor appointments. If my doctor says I can't go back to work yet, what can I do? Am I eligible for long-term disability or workers compensation since I was injured while getting lunch for coworkers?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Injured in car wreck while getting lunch for coworkers... can I be fired?":

Anonymous (USA):

The issue of workmans compensation is tentative at best. Because you were using your own car on your own time to buy lunch, it is arguable you were not within the "scope of your work duties" at the time of the collision. As a result any claim for workers compensation benefits would probably not be successful.

Unfortunately, if you don't return to work your employer has the right to dismiss you and terminate your employment. Unless your doctor is able to write a medical narrative which convinces the disability board your injuries are long-term, you may be stuck with no more than the short-term disability you are receiving.

You best source of income may be from the personal injury claim you have against the errant cabbie. Because of the seriousness of your injuries you must consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The sooner you consult with several the better off you'll be.

Most personal injury attorneys don't charge for initial office consultations. Take the time you still have off and get out to visit with them as soon as possible.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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