A work-related injury that requires a fair amount of medical care and treatment will typically entitle injured workers in Georgia to medical benefits for treatment of the illness or injury and weekly income/indemnity benefits if disabled from work.
Suppose you were injured in a Georgia workplace incident and are collecting medical benefits through your employers’ workers’ compensation. In that case, you may have come across the term “Maximum Medical Improvement” (typically abbreviated as MMI) in some paperwork.
Maximum medical improvement is a term often tossed about in workers’ compensation claims in Georgia. Like many medical terms, you may be wondering what MMI means and how it will affect your workers’ compensation benefits. And for a good reason: the term MMI has a significant impact on your Lawrenceville workers’ compensation case.
Here’s what you need to know about maximum medical improvement and why it’s in your best interest to consult a Lawrenceville workers’ compensation lawyer for your workers’ compensation claim in Georgia.
Call us today at 770-796-0919 for your free consultation on your Lawrenceville Maximum Medical Improvement case.
What Is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
In a successful Georgia worker’s compensation claim, an injured worker is entitled to collect medical benefits to cover medical costs related to the injury treatment.
Regarding medical benefits, they are categorized into two types: upfront and ongoing costs. Upfront costs refer to the cost of what is necessary for the injured employee to cover initial medical treatments, e.g., emergency care and ambulance rides. On the other hand, ongoing costs refer to the cost of whatever follows, including physical therapy, surgery, prescription medications, hospitalization, etc.
Ongoing medical costs usually cost more than the upfront cost and will continue to pile up until the injured worker reaches MMI.
In simple terms, MMI or maximum medical improvement means that the injured employee’s injury has improved as much as is medically possible, i.e., their condition or injury is “as good as it is going to get.” You may experience both pain and disability resulting from the injury for the rest of your life. Still, a doctor has determined that you will not continue to get better because you have reached the maximum improvement.
Who Determines When You Reach Maximum Medical Improvement?
Only an authorized treating doctor can determine an injured workers’ maximum medical improvement and then assign a rating.
Once again, let make this clear, MMI is a condition that an injured employee reaches after suffering a workplace injury or illness. Maximum medical improvement is not a state of mind! That means that an injured employee’s employer cannot determine that a worker has, or should have, reached MMI. If your employer attempts to make this claim, understand that it does not affect your Lawrence workers’ compensation claim.
Sometimes, an injured employee may feel as though they have recovered and are as good as they will get. Note that even your personal opinion cannot determine if you have reached maximum medical improvement. There may be other treatments that your authorized treating physician has yet to try which can improve your condition.
Besides, even when you feel all better, you may be in a very risky medical state, which can worsen and cause further harm if you insist on performing your regular work duties.
NOTE: Nurse case managers and physical therapists cannott legally determine when an injured worker in Georgia has reached MMI.
Does Medical Treatment Continue After an MMI Diagnosis?
Yes. If an authorized treating physician determines that you have reached MMI in Georgia, you may be entitled to additional medical care and treatment related to your work-related illness or injury for a limited time.
Never hesitate to tell your treating physician about ongoing symptoms, what treatment is or isn’t working, and whether you think there’s room for improvement. This is the time for injured workers to be sure they are allowed to heal as best as they can.
The treatment received after reaching MMI is geared towards helping injured workers continue working instead of improving their condition.
Note that if an authorized treating doctor determines that you’ve reached MMI in Georgia, you are not forced to agree. Injured workers in Georgia can switch doctors to get a second opinion. If that doctor determines that other alternative treatments could help you, workers’ compensation may pay for additional treatment.
What Happens If You Cannot Return to Work and Perform at the Same Level After Your MMI Diagnosis?
Just because an authorized treating physician has determined that you have reached MMI does not mean that you can return to work or perform at the same level as before.
In Georgia, injured workers can, therefore, still be able to collect indemnity benefits while they are unable to work because of their work-related injury. If you reach MMI, your physician will give you a disability rating, possibly a permanent work restriction if they determine that you cannot return to work.
That said, an injured worker in Georgia can continue to receive both income and medical benefits after reaching MMI if they can return to work without restrictions or go back to work restrictions but earn as much, or more, income that at the time of the accident.
Note that the amount of benefits that an injured worker can recover in Georgia after reaching MMI will depend on the percent rating given by the treating physician.
Let Us Review Your Lawrenceville Maximum Medical Improvement Case
In Georgia, injured workers can continue receiving benefits beyond the point at which they reach maximum medical improvement. However, many times, when an injured worker has reached MMI, that might be at the point at which it makes sense to settle. It is important to discuss your workers’ compensation claim and medical treatment with an experienced Lawrenceville workers’ compensation lawyer so they can advise you regarding when is the best time to settle your claim.
Georgia’s workers’ comp system can be complex and confusing. Besides, you have to worry about getting the best treatment and paying bills while worrying about your workers’ comp claim. If you have questions about maximum medical improvement (MMI) and its possible impact on your claim, please call the Lawrenceville workers’ compensation attorneys at the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Coalition.
Don’t wait! Call us at 770-796-0919 today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation. The sooner you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, the better.