You may not ever be fully healed from your work-related injury, but there will come a day when your treatment is over. This is when you’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Your MMI date is an important milestone in your workers’ compensation case.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
Once a doctor tells you that you have reached MMI, it means that your condition has stabilized. Any treatment you receive going forward will only maintain the condition you are already in. Basically, you are not going to get any better. Your doctor, not the insurance company, determines when you have reached your MMI. MMI should not be determined until all possible treatments have been tried.
Why is Maximum Medical Improvement Significant?
Once you have reached MMI, any temporary partial or total disability payments you were receiving will stop. It can then be determined whether you are capable of returning to work. If you have reached MMI but are no longer able to perform the actions required of your previous job, your employer can agree to let you come back to work with different job duties. You can also attend vocational rehabilitation in an attempt to reenter the workforce. If you have reached MMI and it is determined that you have some type of disability that is permanent, you may be entitled to permanent disability payments.
A determination of MMI can also impact your medical benefits. Once you have reached MMI, you may not be able to receive compensation for further medical treatment, other than what is required to keep you in the same condition.
An employer can volunteer to pay for permanent disability benefits as part of an agreed settlement, which would close the claim, or the claim can remain open, and payments can be made by stipulation. If an employer does not agree to pay permanency benefits voluntarily, you can request a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC). The WCC will decide your compensation and order the employer to pay.
Typically an employer and their insurer will propose a lump sum settlement to close the workers’ compensation case. Determining whether to settle with an employer once you reach MMI is a tough decision. A lump sum settlement with the employer may be advisable if you don’t plan to undergo further treatments for your injury.
Contact a Maryland Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you’ve been injured at work, it is important to have an attorney to help you through the workers’ compensation process. The attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LP, have 30 years of experience representing injured workers. Contact us online or call us at 1-844-MDCRASH to schedule your free consultation.