Pam Rochlin is a personal injury lawyer who has represented hundreds of people injured in Minnesota car accidents. At breakfast the other day, we discussed how a car accident injury affects the employee and employer, and the employer support after a car accident that can be most helpful.
Priorities of Car Accident Victim
After a car accident, Pam says in most cases, her clients’ top priorities are getting:
- The car fixed or replaced
- Back to work, and
- Necessary medical treatment
She has noticed that getting back to work comes before medical treatment even though it may not be healthy for the client, and even though it may harm their potential legal case. There are usually two reasons for this:
- The need for income
- The feeling of job responsibility or not wanting to let down the team.
Employer Support After a Car Accident
I of course asked her what differences she sees in employers and how they support their clients after a car accident or other disability. She said that as far as accident benefits, most employers have PTO and other leave policies that are helpful, but that financially employees really appreciate employer short and long term disability insurance. And she also stressed that employees worry about the short and long term impact on the projects and career. It is very helpful when employers have contingency plans in place for this type of scenario. For example, knowing in advance how employees will cover for each other in case of long term illness or accident and temporary work at home policies the employee can take advantage of as they get back on their feet. Sometimes, a tragic event such as this can lead to other difficult conversations with employees.
On the legal side, she also mentioned that it really helps when employers promptly respond to the lawyers’ requests for information. With larger employers, there is usually a human resources department that will provide wage documentation. However, the lawyers also sometimes need information from the employee’s supervisors or co-workers regarding what they have observed about the injuries after the employee returns to work, or the employee’s work performance before the car accident. The lawyers will try to minimize company involvement, but appreciate cooperation as they do their part to get the employee properly compensated.
Remember, after a tough event some employees might inadvertently find isolation. When this happens, even having lunch with them and lending a listening ear can make all the difference in feeling supported.