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Life doesn’t stop after you get into a car accident; on the contrary, work expectations and responsibilities mount. Sometimes, you honestly need to consider whether you need to apply for short-term disability after a car accident to alleviate the demands of life during your self-care. Learn what short-term disability is and whether it’s right for you.

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What Is Short-Term Disability After A Car Accident?

Short-term disability (STD), as a part of a comprehensive benefits package, may apply to car accident victims as partial income replacement. During the time that you are healing, STD benefits are provided by your private employer’s insurance company (rather than the government).

Unlike worker’s compensation, the injury need not be work-related for STD, but it is possible to receive both at the same time. STD is a pre-planned employer or individual policy that is triggered by a later injury to the employee. There is a waiting (or “elimination”) period after which benefits are activated, usually eight to 30 days after a disability determination. (It might be best to use your sick days during this time if possible.) An insurance provider or third party, not your human resources department, makes the decision whether you have become disabled.

The Three Types Of Disabilities After A Car Accident

There are three types of disabilities that commonly result from a car crash:

  1. Temporary disability—This is the most frequent of disabilities and includes minor whiplash, broken bones, and strained muscles. This can take a number of weeks to heal.
  2. Partial disability—This form of disability affects your ability to complete tasks like work, but don’t fully impede your regular life. Considerations of maximum medical improvement (MMI) are important when a complete recovery from disability is not entirely anticipated. STC benefits are applied depending on the duration and severity of the injury.
  3. Permanent disability—The injuries are severe and lifelong because they incapacitate the victim in some permanent way. From traumatic brain injuries to amputations, a permanent disability requires major life changes to adjust.

STD applies to temporary disabilities. Some partial (and all permanent) disabilities are eligible for long term disability benefits from your employer, if you previously opted in for those benefits and the car accident was on the job. Sometimes, STD benefits can be parlayed into long term disability benefits. You must be unable to work for a significant but temporary period of time to trigger STD benefits, typically between two months and one year.

How Do I Apply For Short-Term Disability After A Car Accident?

Because applying for STD is a highly technical process, you might want to seek professional help to ensure you are doing it properly and completely. Ensure that you receive a copy of your plan benefits and read them carefully to confirm compliance. You will compile medical records, physician statements about your condition, and fill out a series of forms about your job responsibilities, requirements, and work experience.

The Insurance Company Review

Your insurance adjuster will compare your current medical records and limitations with what is expected of you daily at work from your job description and requirements. If your medical conditions preclude you from fully completing your required tasks and responsibilities, then the adjuster may decide that you’re eligible for STD. If you get rejected from STD benefits, you have a right to appeal your claim.

FMLA Is Separate From STD

Receiving Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits does not mean that you are automatically eligible for STD. STD is more difficult to obtain than FMLA, and the two benefits are distinct.

Do My Car Accident Injuries Qualify Me For Short-Term Disability Benefits?

The eligibility requirements vary greatly by state. But STD requirements typically include a minimum duration of employment, full-time work, a minimum time of disability, and a certain frequency of medical updates. For example, in California, you must prove that:

  • You cannot work for at least eight days due to your disability
  • You have lost wages because of this disability
  • You received $300 or more in wages over the past year
  • You received medical care within eight days of injury
  • You are presently under a doctor’s care
  • Your doctor certifies that your disability precludes you from work

Check with your employer for your specific STD requirements, and ensure you respond to each request to the best of your ability and that you qualify for the mandatory requirements.

How Long Can I Expect STD Payments To Last?

STD benefits are a stopgap means to ensure you receive funds while you convalesce. As such, your STD payments can last up to a year, provided that the disability is deemed ongoing by the insurance provider. For care terms longer than one year, as mentioned, STD can extend into long term disability provided you have the proper insurance for that.

How Much Will I Receive In Short-Term Disability After A Car Accident?

STD income is only partial salary payments, so it is essential to remember this during the time you are receiving benefits. STD benefits are typically 40 to 66 percent of your pre-disability earnings from your highest-paid quarter from your base period (the year before you filed the claim).

How Do STD Benefits Affect My Legal Settlement?

Insurance companies and attorneys representing the other driver in the car accident may dig deeper into what you’re earning, and STD benefits may be used in some cases to offset your final settlement amount. Whether your disability will affect your personal injury claim may include the following variables:

  • Type of disability—Disability benefits that are due to another kind of disability than the one at hand in the car crash may not trigger a reduction because the first disability is unrelated to the second.
  • Disability duration—This factor distinguishes your disability from the time span of your personal injury. If you recover quickly from your disability, and your personal injury lasts, your final settlement amount may not be so greatly affected.
  • Salary vs. disability benefits—In some cases, your STD benefits will be used instead of your actual prior wages to calculate your personal injury settlement. Because STD is less, that may work in your favor. Furthermore, if you anticipate returning to work, but your personal injury does not allow that, your future earnings may also be implicated. This factor may also be leverage for you.

Unsure How Best To Apply For Short-Term Disability After A Car Accident? Consult An Expert Today

If you feel you might need to apply for short-term disability after a car crash, consult a knowledgeable expert today about your claim. They can guide you through this technical process to ensure you receive the best outcome.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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