Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is a status many injury victims hope to reach, but the outcome may not be desirable. The issue raises significant concerns among employees, as it could mean the end of their worker’s compensation benefits.
If you have concerns about what happens after maximum medical improvement, you could benefit from the legal counsel of workers’ compensation attorneys. They’ll explain how MMI affects workers’ compensation and aggressively fight to protect your rights and interests.
What is MMI in Workers’ Compensation?
Maximum medical improvement implies that an injured worker has recovered as much as possible from injuries. Any additional medical treatment isn’t likely to improve their condition further. When a healthcare provider determines that a patient has reached the MMI plateau, they issue an impairment rating, recommendations for future medical treatment to maintain optimal functioning, and any future work restrictions.
If you sustain severe injuries and require the care of more than one healthcare provider, your situation can be very complicated. That’s because you may attain MMI at varying times for different injuries. Your care providers may disagree about when you reach MMI.
The insurance company may also determine that you reached MMI before the doctors determine the same. You may also feel that you could benefit from additional treatment. The situation can lead to a hearing for the Worker’s Compensation Commission to decide when you reached MMI.
How is MMI Different from Disability in Workers’ Compensation?
It’s essential to note that MMI is distinctly different from the workers’ compensation disability laws. Once your healthcare providers or the Commission determines that you have reached MMI, the next step is to assess if you have a permanent disability and the extent.
The date of your MMI indicates the termination of your temporary total benefits. You may be entitled to post-MMI benefits as a permanent complete or partial disability. The benefits may also be a ratio of impairment to a scheduled member.
Why Is MMI So Important?
Some fundamental reasons why MMI is crucial in workers’ compensation include:
- It can provide a basis for the insurance company to cease your weekly checks, also known as temporary total disability (TTD). The argument is that if you’ve attained maximum improvement, any injury you still have is permanent, not temporary.
- It forms the foundation for the cash part of your settlement, which is permanent disability compensation. Upon reaching your MMI, the doctor ascribes a permanent MMI rating. They may request a functional capacity evaluation to arrive at the rating, which leads to the permanent disability estimate that gives your cash settlement at the end of the case.
- When you attain MMI, you’re at the point where you can get back to work without a doctor’s restrictions. Even with restrictions imposed, you may still be able to return to work in some capacity.
- MMI may stop your right to workers’ compensation that caters to your medical care. In the best case, MMI means you need no further care, but you may not walk away if you have severe injuries. The good thing is that workers’ compensation laws provide room for MMI aftercare if it reduces the effects of your disability, for example, follow-up therapy or medication for pain relief.
Workers Compensation MMI Rating: How It Affects Your Disability Award
Once you reach your MMI, your physician will consult the American Medical Association to help them determine your impairment rating. They’ll assign a rating based on factors like:
- The procedures they performed, including physical therapy surgery, injections
- Work restrictions
- Ongoing pain
- Decreases in range of motion
The worker’s compensation doesn’t limit itself to the physician’s rating in determining your disability award, although the rating is one of the crucial determining factors. Others include your:
- Work restrictions
- Previous work history
- Need for future medical treatment
In most cases, your disability amount will often be a greater proportion than the original impairment rating. It may cover future procedures and ongoing prescription medication.
Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney for a Fair Outcome
Your impairment rating affects your workers’ compensation in several ways. Accurately determining impairment rating is crucial in determining the payment you get. It would be best if you got the legal assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney in filing a claim for disability benefits.
Workers’ Compensation FAQs
What factors affect my MMI impairment rating?
One of the driving factors in your MMI rating is your recovery. You’ll most likely receive an MMI if you continue to heal and your situation gets better. Several other factors may also come into play.
How can a workers’ compensation attorney help me?
With a workers’ compensation lawyer by your side, you don’t have to deal with the technical and complex process of MMI ratings and disability benefits by yourself. They’ll create a strong case and defend you to get the settlement amount you deserve.