Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is an often-used term to describe the medical status of the injured. You might hear MMI used in connection to both personal injury law (car accidents, for example) and in workers' compensation cases. Its meaning is the same regardless of its use, however. MMI is used to describe an injury that has reached a plateau where no additional improvement is expected. Read on to find out more about how a ruling of MMI will affect your workers' compensation benefit case.
How Does MMI Come About?
After an on-the-job injury, a period of recuperation usually follows. During this time, injuries are treated, and gradual but steady improvement often occurs. Unfortunately, not all injuries improve enough to allow the hurt worker to return to their job. At some point during the recovery and treatment period, the hurt worker is asked to undergo a special exam known as the independent medical exam (IME). The purpose of the IME is to learn more about the current medical status of a claimant. The doctor examines the worker by focusing on the location of the injury and makes the determination for MMI.
MMI is not the only possible outcome of the exam, however. It is possible that the worker is still recovering and just needs a bit more time at home. It is also possible that the worker is actually healed enough to return to their previous positions. Naturally, the hurt worker and the results of the medical exam do not always agree. If you are told to return to work and you are not healed, it's vital that you speak to a workers' compensation attorney at once. You only have so much time to file an appeal.
What Does MMI Really Mean?
You can, in most cases, consider a ruling of MMI to be the same as having a permanent injury. While further improvement is always possible, the workers' compensation carrier will treat an MMI ruling the same as a permanent injury, and the benefit situation will be altered as a result. A ruling of MMI means that you are not expected to be able to return to your previous position because of the injury, and you can expect a lump-sum settlement to be next. You must consider your next move carefully and only proceed with the help of a workers' comp attorney. The settlement must be enough to replace your salary until you reach retirement age, and the amount you receive is always negotiable. Let an expert negotiate the best deal possible for you by speaking to a workers' comp lawyer right away.