When you or a loved one suffers a severe injury or illness due to a medical error, you may not be able to work while you or your loved one recovers. Fortunately, the federal and New Jersey state legislatures protect many employees from losing their jobs due to illness or caretaking responsibilities when tragedy strikes. The federal and state medical leave statutes allow employees to focus on their overwhelming needs for themselves or their families that prevent them from working.
Federal Law Allowing Medical Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enables qualifying employees to keep their jobs after taking a leave of absence to recuperate from a debilitating health condition or care for a family member recovering from a health condition.
How do You Know if You’re Eligible for Medical Leave in New Jersey?
An employee is eligible for FMLA if they worked for their employer for a year or longer, worked at least 1,250 hours the prior year, and their employer has 50 employees within 75 miles of the work location. An employer in New Jersey with 50 employees at least 20 weeks of the year or the previous year is subject to the FMLA. An employee must also have a serious health condition for eligibility.
What Medical Conditions Qualify for Medical Leave?
FMLA defines a serious health condition as any illness, injury, or other physical or mental impairment that requires hospital care, three or more days’ incapacitation, and continuing healthcare treatment. The Act also applies to pregnancy, prenatal incapacity, as well as chronic severe conditions requiring treatment, and permanent or long-term treatment for terminal illness or other untreatable conditions. Finally, conditions requiring multiple treatments for corrective or repair surgery after an accident or injury, as well as any condition requiring over three days’ absence, are eligible.
Thus, the law anticipates conditions requiring an employee’s absence from work for an extended period or recurring periods to recover, even if that recovery is at home. In other words, their condition prevents them from working. Thus, diabetes is a chronic condition, but if it does not require hospitalization, it may not prevent an employee from working.
How Long can You Take Medical Leave for if You are Eligible in NJ?
Federal Law allows up to 12 weeks of leave annually for severe health conditions that prevent employees from performing their jobs, as explained above. New Jersey also allows up to 12 weeks of family leave for eligible employees who are taking care of a family member with a severe health condition.
Essentially, a New Jersey resident may take up to 12 weeks per year consecutively or intermittently to care for someone else. They may take the same time to care for their own illness or injury through the FMLA. The NJ FLA does not allow leave for the employee’s health condition, so they must seek leave from the federal FMLA.
Can I take Medical Leave to Care for a Family Member in New Jersey?
New Jersey’s Family Leave Act applies to employers with at least 30 employees worldwide or state or local governmental entities. Eligible employees are those who care for a child or bond with an adopted child beginning before the child’s first birthday or within a year of the adopted child’s adoption. Additionally, a qualifying employee needs to have worked for the employer for at least one year, logging minimally 1,000 hours in the past year.
The NJ FLA applies to caretakers of family members or the equivalent of a family member with a severe health condition or one exposed to a communicable disease and must be quarantined during a state of emergency. Those caring for children needing treatment for a severe health condition or whose school is closed due to infectious disease during a state of emergency also qualify. Family members may be children, foster children, parents, spouses, domestic partners, siblings, in-laws, grandparents, or anyone related by blood or closely associated as much as a family member.
New Jersey law also covers pregnancy and recovery for up to 12 weeks per year plus another 12 weeks to bond with or care for a child, whether natural, adopted, or fostered.
Can I Lose my Job if I Take Medical Leave for Myself or a Loved One?
Whether taking medical leave for health reasons or to take care of another, the FMLA and NJ FLA protect someone from being fired for taking a leave of absence for qualified reasons. Employees can return to their job or a similar position when their leave is over. They cannot be fired, harassed, or retaliated against for medical leaves under the statutes, though an employer can fire or lay them off for other reasons.
Will I get Paid while I’m on Medical Leave?
Neither the federal nor New Jersey FMLA mandates payment for medical leave. The injured employee must use vacation and sick pay if the employer does not have family leave benefits, state disability for pregnant or disabled employees, or New Jersey Paid Family Leave Act for family, maternity, or paternity leave. While an employee may take up to 12 weeks off for a severe and debilitating injury from a medical malpractice incident through the FMLA, they may need state disability benefits if their condition is permanent or long-term, meaning more extended than the covered period.
How Else can Injured Victims Obtain Compensation for Medical Malpractice-Related Injuries?
When you need care for a serious long-term health condition or are caring for a child or other family member with a permanent health condition, you may not be able to return to work after your leave runs out. Fortunately, you can seek medical malpractice compensation, which covers your lost income and other types of economic and non-economic damages due to a healthcare provider’s or medical facility’s negligence.
If your case has the necessary elements for a medical malpractice claim, you are entitled to recover your or your loved one’s medical costs. You may seek compensation for your hospitalizations, doctor visits, outpatient procedures, and aftercare treatment for injuries caused by a medical professional failing to adhere to the standards and practices of their profession. You can also recover income loss due to your injury due to missing work for your health condition or that of a family member.
The physical and psychological trauma of the event may also be included in your compensation via a medical malpractice settlement or financial award after a jury verdict at trial.
Ensure You are Fully Compensated
Since the federal and state medical leave statutes only protect your job temporarily after medical negligence harms you or someone you love in New Jersey, you will need legal assistance to get the compensation wrongdoers owe you through medical malpractice law. The exceptionally qualified medical malpractice attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group can help you explore your options to recover compensation through a medical malpractice claim. With extensive legal knowledge and decades of practice concentrating in medical malpractice law, our experienced lawyers have the skills to seek redress for wrongfully injured individuals and their families throughout New Jersey.
We are proud to have so many people and their loved ones turn to us when negligent doctors, nurses, medical specialists, hospitals, and other medical practices and practitioners cause serious, often permanent injuries, and even death. Contact our medical malpractice attorneys today at 973-435-4551 for a no cost review of your case and better understanding of the rights and options you have.