If you have been injured on the job and are now collecting workers' compensation benefits, you may eventually be faced with the term "maximum medical improvement." At first glance, this term may appear to mean that you will never get better and that your worker's comp benefits have come to an end. Don't worry, being deemed at maximum medical improvement (MMI) means neither of those things, but is instead a turning point in your recovery and the manner that you receive benefits. Read on to learn more about what MMI means for you.
What Does MMI Mean?
After you have been receiving benefits for some time, the workers' comp insurance company may require more information about your injury. The doctor, chosen by the insurance company, will perform the exam and your medical condition will be thoroughly evaluated. Some conditions are expected to heal within an expected time, and if you are still not well enough to return to work, this exam may be required as a condition of continuing benefits. The timing of this request depends on the nature of your injury. For example, a severe and catastrophic injury, such as a spinal injury or an amputation, may be ruled at MMI fairly quickly after the accident. The end result of the injury is more obvious and the outcome can be predicted. On the other hand, a back injury may take longer to heal, with repeated surgeries and recovery. This type of injury may not be evaluated for MMI until some months have passed after the accident.
How Does MMI Affect Your Claim?
The result of your exam may mean continued benefits if your injury seems to be improving but needs more time. However, if the doctor deems that more medical improvement is unlikely and that you will never be able to work at your former position again, you will be determined to be at MMI. In effect, the MMI determination likely means a permanent injury, which can affect the manner that your benefits are paid. You may be offered a lump sum settlement, which can be calculated using these, among other, factors:
- Your age
- How much more money you would earn, throughout your lifetime, if your injury had not occurred
- The affected body parts
- The percentage of disability per each body part
- Your education level
Negotiating for a fair settlement, when you consider that the level of compensation could impact you and your family for the rest of your life, is a task best left to a legal expert. Contact a workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible for help in determining how much you deserve as a result of your workplace injury and allow someone else to take on the burden of ensuring that you get a fair and complete settlement.