Maximum Medical Improvement -- Three Things Workers' Compensation Claimants In Alabama Should Know
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is an important date in your claim. MMI does NOT necessarily mean you are completely healed. MMI occurs when your doctor believes you are as healed as you will get. While some workers no longer need continued care after MMI others do need regular treatment.
MMI Is An Important DateMMI is an important date for your workers' compensation claim. Once you reach MMI the treating doctor often issues an impairment rating or physical restrictions for any permanent disability. Both Impairment ratings and final restrictions are important in calculating potential benefits which may be owed you under our workers' compensation laws.
Until you reach MMI, the court cannot make a decision on your claim. Because of this, MMI is a key date when you can finally calculate the benefits owed and prepare for a trial if needed. Many insurance companies often try to settle the claim at this point.
Clues That MMI Is ApproachingThe date of MMI is significant to your claim. Because of this, you need to prepare for that date. How do you determine MMI is approaching?
LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR. At the time of a surgery or other treatment, doctors will often discuss expected healing times. Certainly, some injuries are worse than expected. Some take longer to heal while others take less time to heal. However, a conversation with your doctor should help you learn when MMI can be expected.
Many doctors will also begin mentioning MMI as the time nears. In addition, your doctor may begin discussing other subjects typically associated with MMI. These include: Releasing you; Your need to find easier, less physical or less demanding work; Your ability (or inability) to return to specific work; Physical restrictions which are permanent; or, A Functional Capacity Examination (FCE) test to determine physical restrictions.
If you hear your doctor mention these issues, it is a signal your MMI date may be nearing.
The Hardship Caused By MMIWhile MMI is an important date for resolving workers' compensation claims involving permanent injury, it can also bring a period of hardship before the case resolves. If you suffered significant injury, the doctor may have taken you off work while providing medical care. If the doctor took you off work, you may be receiving temporary total disability benefits (often called TTD).
When the doctor concludes you are at MMI, the insurance company will probably stop paying TTD benefits to you. You may be entitled to additional benefits if you have a permanent impairment or disability. But, it may take time for you or your lawyer to obtain medical records, prepare the claim or even get a date for trial. During this time, you may not receive any benefits. That's the hardship MMI brings to injured workers. Insurance companies know this. And, insurance companies use your hardship to obtain the lowest settlement possible. If you suffer a significant disability, you need experienced legal counsel who can fight for the benefits due you.