Q: What if my doctor releases me to return to work, but I’m still in too much pain to do so?
A: Compensation for the additional time off after a doctor has released you to return to work largely depends on whether or not you can prove that the additional time off was reasonable and necessary. “Reasonable and necessary” is the standard.
Suppose you suffered a moderate whiplash from a rear-end auto accident. After a couple weeks, your doctor tells you to return to work when you feel up to it. You still feel stiff and sore. You decide to stay home a few more days, taking over-the-counter medication. After a few days, you return to work feeling better. Was it reasonable to take those additional days? Probably. Was it necessary? That’s a more difficult question, but you, or your attorney, will likely be able to negotiate for that additional loss in pay.
What if, however, you took no pain medications and went water skiing while you were “recuperating” from your neck injury? Is it reasonable now? Probably not. Neither is it necessary.
More often than not, determining past and/or future lost wages is simply a question of reasonableness.