Some Important FAQ’s about Your Disability MMI and Legal Representation
The only thing worse than suffering a workplace disability is sorting through all the ins and outs of your options as you work toward recovery. Often, deciding what your final disability settlement will be depends on when your physician determines you have reached your MMI or Maximum Medical Improvement.
Here are some FAQs about MMI and legal representation.
Does Attaining MMI Mean There’s Nothing Else That Can be Done for Me?
Absolutely not! If anything, an attorney that specializes in workplace disability will tell you it’s just the opposite. When your physician determines you have reached maximum medical improvement that DOES NOT mean:
- You have made a complete recovery.
- You have no longer have any functional limitations because of your work injury.
- You no longer require treatment for your work injury.
- Your workers’ compensation case is settled and closed.
- You don’t qualify for additional care.
How does your Doctor Determine you have Reached MMI?
When your physician decides you have reached MMI, that means there are no other curative or invasive medical options available for your healing and/or improve your existing condition that resulted from your work injury.
Is There an Unlimited Time before Being You Can be Declared MMI?
NO. Statutory MMI places a limited amount of time that a person can receive worker’s compensation before being declared MMI. Under Florida law, for example, an injured employee can receive a maximum of 260 weeks of indemnity benefits.
This is regardless of whether indemnity checks from the insurance company are for temporary, partial, or total disability. When a workers’ compensation insurance company has paid out 260 weeks of indemnity checks, that person has reached statutory MMI.
Can an Attorney Help Me Once I’ve Reached MMI?
Not only can a disability attorney help you at this point, but this is when you need one most.
Should I Consider a Settlement Before I Reach MMI?
No. Never discuss or accept a settlement offer until after you’ve reached this point. There is no way to accurately determine the future expense of your current medical condition until you and your attorney understand the extent of your current and permanent disability.
Reaching MMI also determines if you will be able to return to work or in what capacity if you do. A disability attorney will consult with you about elements like short-term disability if that applies, an inability to return to work, and long-term disability. This is a part of factoring your final compensation amount. If you settle before you’ve reached MMI, you may be giving away your right to pursue further compensation for these elements later on.
What Will an Attorney Do Once I’ve Reached MMI?
Reaching a fair MMI Settlement can be a complicated and lengthy process involving:
An Independent Medical Examination (IME)
An IME is a one-time medical appointment with a physician selected by your disability insurance carrier. The Workers Compensation Act dictates that your employer can force you to attend one IME per medical specialty per year. If your employer’s insurance carrier requires an IME, there is a good chance the result will be unfavorable to your claim.
Insurance carriers are likely to use the same IME doctors for all of their disability cases. Most of these IME doctors understand they are being asked to deliver a report that favors the insurance carrier, not you. The insurance carrier wants the IME doctor to determine you have reached MMI for your work-related injuries so that it can refuse medical treatment endorsed by your authorized physician in the future.
Most attorneys who specialize in disability will refer you to approved physicians for a second opinion. Before that, your attorney will request an MMI Report and Permanent Impairment Rating from your insurance carrier’s physician. This information will include:
- The date you reached MMI.
- A permanent partial disability impairment rating that states the percentage of loss of use and function due to the work accident
- Your permanent work restrictions. Your attorney will evaluate your permanent restrictions compared to your pre-injury job duties to establish if there are job tasks you can no longer perform because of your work injuries.
- Your projected future medical needs for the injury over the next ten to twenty years, along with the cost of that treatment. The medical cost projection will generally include not only the amount billed to insurance companies but also the amount collected.
How Does an Attorney Aid in Getting a Fair Settlement?
Your attorney may hire expert witnesses to testify on your behalf. If needed, a disability attorney often pursues additional benefits. Dependent on your work status and the benefits you reached at maximum medical improvement, your attorney may file a workers comp claim for added benefits you deserve.
Your attorney will discuss the medical costs covered by a settlement with you and start negotiations with your employer’s insurance carrier on your behalf.
An attorney can help maximize your Workers Comp Claim’s value when you have reached MMI. When it comes to workers’ comp, nothing is as important as maximum medical improvement. To ensure your legal rights are protected and to give yourself the best opportunity of getting every benefit you deserve, be sure and consult with a reputable disability attorney.