If you’ve never been on workers’ compensation before, it can come across as a complicated system. At some point, a lot of people reach out to an Atlanta workers’ comp attorney for help. This is especially true if your employer tries to force you to return to work before you’re ready. But your doctor claims that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement. What does it mean?
You Can Only Collect Workers’ Comp Benefits if You Suffer a Workplace Injury
Workers’ compensation is only for people who are hurt on the job. If your claim is approved, your employer’s insurance carrier will be responsible for paying your benefits.
Many of our clients are only concerned with their weekly replacement wages. However, it’s also important that your medical care be covered. The problem is that you’re at the mercy of the insurance company.
The More Serious Your Injuries, the Longer You’ll Be Out of Work
Typically with workers’ compensation, people with more serious injuries take longer to return to work. This is partly because it takes them longer to recover. However, it also has to do with how quickly your workers’ comp doctor determines that you’ve met maximum medical improvement.
At some point, your doctor is going to tell the insurance adjuster that you will not benefit from further treatment. Sometimes, this means that you have fully recovered. Other times it means that you have recovered as much as you can, and further treatment would be futile.
There Are Three Major Ways Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can End
Regardless of how serious your work-related injuries may be, you won’t receive benefits forever. Not only will your doctor declare that you’ve reached MMI, but Georgia limits how long you can receive benefits.
There are essentially three different ways your workers’ comp benefits can end. While your workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta will do their best to protect you, there are limits to what they can do.
Your Atlanta Workers Comp Attorney Will Explain That Your Benefits End When You Return to Work
The most common way most employees’ benefits end is when they return to work. Our Atlanta workers comp attorneys have handled hundreds if not thousands of cases where our client was back at work within a couple of months.
Once you’re ready to go back to work, your benefits will stop. Of course, if you still have scheduled treatment, such as physical therapy, the insurance company will continue to cover that care.
Your Benefits Can Also Be Terminated if You Don’t Follow the Workers’ Compensation Rules
Unfortunately, some of our clients have seen their benefits end for other reasons. If you do something that violates the rules of workers’ compensation, your benefits can be terminated. In some cases, you may even be ordered to pay back any benefits you have received.
For example, if the insurance carrier finds out that you’ve secretly been working somewhere off the books, they will suspend your claim. The same thing can happen if you stop going to your doctor’s appointments.
Your Benefits Will Automatically Terminate After the 400 Weeks Have Expired
Even if you’re the model patient, your workers’ comp benefits will eventually end. In Georgia, you can only collect workers’ compensation benefits for 400 weeks. This happens to be just shy of 8 years.
The odds of someone being out on workers comp for this long as slim. Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta have only handled a few cases that lasted this long. Once the 400 weeks are up, your benefits will stop and your Atlanta workers comp attorney will have to settle your case somehow.
You’ll Be Expected to Return to Work Once Your Doctor Determines You’ve Achieved Maximum Medical Improvement
One of the most frustrating things about workers’ compensation is that you’re at the mercy of your workers’ comp doctor. Along the way, you’re required to attend all doctor’s appointments. You are also expected to comply with your doctor’s treatment regimen.
When the doctor feels that there is nothing left they can do to help you, they’ll let the insurance company know. They will declare that you’ve achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI), and you’ll be ordered back to work.
What Does Maximum Medical Improvement Mean?
The concept of MMI is quite simple. When you first see your workers’ compensation doctor, they’ll do a thorough assessment of your injuries. They’ll also outline your treatment plan.
Along the way, your doctor will notice that you are no longer improving. When this happens, they’ll tell the insurance carrier. There is no reason for the insurance company to continue to pay for treatment if it isn’t doing any good.
What If Your Atlanta Workers’ Comp Attorney Disagrees with This Assessment?
Over the years, there have been numerous cases where our Atlanta workers comp attorneys didn’t agree with the doctor’s assessment of MMI. When this happens, your attorney will arrange for you to see an independent doctor.
Once you have seen this other doctor, they will offer a written report with their recommendation. If they agree that you haven’t yet reached MMI, they will recommend further medical treatment.
It’s in Your Best Interest to Retain an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Atlanta
If you get hurt at work, there’s a good chance your workers’ compensation claim will be approved. However, there’s no way to know if you’ll receive the benefits you deserve. That’s why we suggest you meet with a seasoned Atlanta workers comp attorney.
Once you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta, they will deal with the insurance carrier on your behalf. They will also make sure you aren’t forced to return to work before you’re ready.
Call Today to Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation!
With so much at stake, it’s a good idea to consider hiring an Atlanta workers’ comp attorney. You’ll be spending a lot of time going to doctor’s appointments and physical therapy. The last thing you’ll want to do is fight with the insurance adjuster.
We do offer our clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to have a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta review your claim. Since the consultation is free, you have nothing to lose.