What is MMI and Why is it Important in My Personal Injury Case?
If you have been in a serious car accident you need to know what MMI is and why it is so important in regards to your personal injury case. In this article we will define what MMI is and what effect it can have on your settlement.
What is MMI?In a personal injury case with sufficient coverage it is important not to contemplate resolving your claim until you have reached what is known as 'Maximum Medical Improvement' or MMI. Reaching MMI does not necessarily mean that you have become pain-free, or that you require no further treatment. It simply means that your doctors have reached the conclusion that you have reached the apex of what current medical science can accomplish, in terms of providing you with a cure for your injuries. A doctor may opine that you will need ongoing care and that you even have a permanent injury, but also opine that you have, nevertheless, reached MMI.
Why do I need to wait to be declared at MMI before Settling my Case?The reason for waiting until you have been declared to be at MMI before settling is that until the doctor has come to the conclusion that you have reached MMI, it is unlikely that he or she will be in a position to present opinions as to your future care, and other important things that must be known in order to place a proper monetary value on your claim. Therefore, if you settle before that time, you may be greatly undervaluing your case. For example, it could be that you suffered a back injury in the car collision; however, it is not disabling and you are able to perform your job. But after two years of non-stop treatment, including physical therapy, injections, and every option except surgery, you face daily, unrelenting pain due to your injuries. Finally, two years after the accident, your doctors declare that you have reached MMI, but have also opined that you are no longer able to work because of your injuries, and that you will require lifelong pain management to give you any quality of life. Had you settled long before reaching MMI, you would have greatly undervalued your claim. Why? Because an opinion relating to an inability to work will entitle you to claim future wage loss. Just for a moment, imagine a 40-year-old man earning $50,000.00 per year. If he is unable to work until his planned retirement age of 65, that is an additional 25 years of work, or $1.25 Million in future wage loss that he can now make part of his claim!
One Major Exception.The only major exception to the rule about waiting to settle until you reach MMI is if there is insufficient insurance coverage relating to your claim. As we discuss in other articles and in Joe Miller's book, Strong Justice for Accident Victims: How Much is My Case Worth? , that is precisely why finding out the amount of available insurance coverage is always the number one item that determines the value of your claim. If there is only a minimum amount of coverage, then there may simply not be enough money available to pay for the treatment necessary to get you to MMI. In such a case, an early assessment of the case must be made as to whether it makes better sense to simply accept the available insurance coverage, without waiting to get to MMI. Otherwise, you may be looking at a tremendous amount of medical bill debt that can never be repaid. In any event, how do you know what the full amount of available insurance coverage is on your claim? How do you know when and if you should decide to accept the limits of insurance that have been offered? That is where our expertise can help you.