Michigan lawyer discusses maximum medical improvement (MMI) and how it can impact payment of workers’ comp benefits.
Getting hurt on-the-job is a stressful event. Most people have never even thought about what happens to their jobs if they cannot return to work. It does not help that medical and legal professionals throw around terms that have confusing meanings. One of those terms is maximum medical improvement (MMI) and it can have significant ramifications on any workers’ comp claim.
Many of our clients worry that maximum medical improvement means an end to their benefits. Does the employer now have to offer a job within work restrictions? Will medical treatment and rehabilitative programs automatically stop? What about wage loss benefits if still unable to work?
Here are some legal issues that people need to know about MMI and workers’ comp. Please remember that every situation is different, so it is best to speak with a lawyer about your own case.
What is maximum medical improvement?
Maximum Medical Improvement is a term that doctors use when a patient has reached a treatment plateau. This means no change is expected despite continuing medical treatment and rehabilitative programs. A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) is typically ordered at this phase to establish work restrictions.
Watch out for workers’ comp insurance companies who use an independent medical examination (IME) to say an injured employee is MMI. These doctors are paid to say employees are fully recovered and this saves them money on claims. A treating doctor should make this determination based upon his or her professional judgement. We recommend that our clients keep treating even if the insurance company has disputed additional medical treatment. Health insurance will pay disputed medical bills and reimbursement is only required should the individual win his or her case.
What happens with workers’ comp after maximum medical improvement (MMI)?
Reaching maximum medical improvement doesn’t mean that a person can do now what they could before. Medical treatment options might be exhausted, but work restrictions should continue. Individuals who cannot transition to a different job should be paid continuing wage loss benefits.
Watch out for insurance companies who make low-ball settlement offers when a person reaches maximum medical improvement. Workman’s compensation does not automatically stop when maximum medical improvement occurs. Wage loss benefits should be paid indefinitely provided an individual remains disabled. Vocational rehabilitation might also be needed to help transition a person to a new career. It is also possible that an individual gets worse and needs additional medical treatment that has not been anticipated. Workman’s compensation after maximum improvement does not have to be hard. An experienced lawyer can protect legal rights and negotiate a fair settlement.
Michigan Workman’s Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled employees exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.