What Is "Maximum Medical Improvement?"

Workplace injuries come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and severities. For some, an injury is minor, requiring just a few days of rest before an employee can return to work in their full capacity. Others aren’t so fortunate, and instead have to live with the consequences of their accident for the rest of their lives, leaving them permanently disabled in some form. But how do you know you’ve become permanently disabled?

The answer lies in a term you’ll hear rather frequently throughout your case: “maximum medical improvement,” or MMI. To put it as simple as possible, MMI is the point in your injury claim timeline where your doctor says your condition can’t be expected to improve with any additional reasonable treatment. In other words, you’ve healed as much as possible and the injured body part is about as good as it’s going to get. This should only be declared after all reasonable treatment options have been exhausted and your condition fails to improve.

MMI & Your Workers’ Comp Case

Your workers’ compensation claim will change significantly once your doctor declares you have reached maximum medical improvement. Up until this point, you have been regularly seeing a doctor about your condition, and you have probably also been receiving replacement income to maintain your livelihood. However, these benefits are only paid while you are continuing to recover. Once you reach maximum medical improvement, your condition will be treated differently.

If you cannot further recover with reasonable treatment, your doctor will declare you have reached MMI and assign you a disability rating. This disability rating will influence whether or not you can return to your position, and if so, what restrictions must be in place. Depending on the restrictions and your previous job duties, you may need to move to a different position or seek different employment which will allow you to work within the bounds of your restrictions. If you are declared to be partially disabled, you can still receive benefits, though the amount will be reduced by the percentage of disability you are given. For example, say you injure your wrist and are declared 40 percent disabled. How much you will receive is determined by the appropriate schedule for wrist injuries, reduced by the 60 percent amount of which you are not disabled.

Your physician may also declare you to be totally disabled, which means they believe that you won’t be able to return to any sort of “substantially gainful” employment without pain or heavy restriction. Total disability is handled much differently from partial disability because you aren’t expected to be able to work again in the future. You can expect to receive benefits based on the type of your injury and its severity for a designated period of time.

I Don’t Like My Diagnosis

If your doctor declares that you have reached MMI, you don’t have to live with the decision, even if you have seen them throughout the process thus far. You are entitled to a second opinion with a doctor of your choosing, and if they believe other treatment will help you, you may be able to obtain this treatment to attempt to further improve.

Your condition may not necessarily get better after reaching MMI, but it could also relapse and get worse. If your condition worsens within two years after reaching this condition, you should go back to your doctor, and they can examine you to determine if your condition needs further treatment.

You should also not hesitate to speak with a skilled Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer about your injury as soon as possible. It’s not uncommon for employers and insurance companies to try to discredit or misrepresent your injury in an effort to avoid their responsibility to pay. The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC has dealt with these issues before, and can provide you with quality, compassionate counsel that’s dedicated to effectively preserving your best interests. With over 20 years of collective experience, we have helped numerous clients reach their goals after being injured on the job, and our ability and client service has earned us numerous recognitions, including a 10.0 Superb rating from Avvo.

Call The Law Office of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC today by dialing (770) 629-9321 to discuss your case further and learn more about your options when you have been injured on the job.
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