Workplace accidents happen in a wide variety of ways and could result in injuries of different levels of severity. For some, the accident is minor, requiring a few days of rest and minimal medication before the employee can return to work at full capacity. However, for others, the injuries are severe, and they have to live with the consequences of the accident for the rest of their lives, meaning they become permanently disabled in one form or another.
Legally speaking, to know when such an employee has become permanently disabled, the term “maximum medical improvement” is used. Simply put, MMI is the point in an injury claim timeline where the doctor says your condition cannot be expected to improve with any extra reasonable medical treatment.
This would mean that you have healed as much as possible, and the injured area is about as good as it’s ever going to get. A Stockbridge Maximum Medical Improvement diagnosis should only be declared once all of the reasonable treatment options have been exhausted and the condition doesn’t seem to improve.
If you have been declared to be at Maximum Medical Improvement and the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster has requested you to settle your claim, get in touch with our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers in Stockbridge, GA to discuss your case and the best steps to take moving forward.
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What Is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
The simple definition of maximum medical improvement is when an injured employee has improved (medically) as much as possible. While the injured employee may still experience both pain and certain disabilities from the injury for the rest of their lives, a medical professional who declares MMI has determined that further medical intervention will not improve their condition.
MMI might occur while the employee is still receiving treatment as the purpose of the treatment might be to maintain a certain level of functionality. For instance, treatment could be ongoing if it helps them manage pain.
Who Determines Maximum Medical Improvement in Stockbridge?
The only party that can legally determine whether or not the injured employee has reached MMI in Stockbridge, Georgia is their authorized treating physician. Maximum medical improvement is the condition the injured employee reaches following an injury in their workplace. It’s not a state of mind.
By hosting an appointment with the injured employee, the authorized treating physician will make a determination that the person has improved as much as they are medically going to from their injury. It does not mean that the injured worker is now better; it simply means that the injury has improved as much as it can in the opinion of the treating physician.
Note that the employer or their insurer cannot make the determination whether an injured worker has or should have reached MMI. In case they attempt to do so, you should know that it has no legal effect on your claim.
Other healthcare practitioners like physical therapists also can’t make a legal determination when an injured employee reaches maximum medical improvement. It’s only an authorized treating physician who is legally allowed to determine that an injured worker has reached MMI, and they then assign a rating.
Does Treatment Continue After Maximum Medical Improvement?
Yes. Some medical treatments may continue even after you reach maximum medical improvement. You might suffer from some form of disability or pain for the rest of your life because of the workplace injury, requiring regular treatment, such as managing pain.
And even if your treating physician has established that you’re at Maximum Medical Improvement, you are not obligated to agree. You can still switch doctors to get a second opinion in case you believe that you haven’t reached MMI for your injuries.
If the new physician establishes that there are other treatments that are likely to improve your condition, workers’ comp insurance will still pay for the additional treatments.
What If You Cannot Return to Work and Perform the Same After MMI?
If you’re unable to return to work and continue performing at the same capacity as you were before the injury, your treating physician will state that you’ve reached MMI and then give you a disability rating. This rating will play an important role in determining whether you will be able to resume work duties, and if so, the kind of restrictions that will be required.
Depending on your work duties and the restrictions imposed, you may have to be assigned to another position or require a new job where you can perform within these restrictions.
In case you’re deemed partially disabled, it might still be possible to receive workers’ comp benefits, though the amount will be decreased by the disability rating you’re given. For example, if you are found to be 30% disabled, you will receive benefits reduced by 70%.
If you’re found totally disable, the physician is of the opinion that you can’t have any “substantially gainful” employment without significant pain or restrictions. You will receive benefits based on the kind of injury and its severity for a given amount of time.
Call Us About Your Stockbridge Maximum Medical Improvement Case
Navigating the often complex world of workers’ compensation law in Georgia can be quite difficult, especially when your treating physician has determined that you have reached MMI.
If the injuries you sustained make you unable to return to your job as before or you find that you need ongoing treatment for your condition, you may need to take legal action to defend your rights and protect your best interests. If you find yourself at a crossroads, consider getting in touch with the Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Coalition in Stockbridge, GA to learn more about how we can help you with your case.
If you are not sure of what you need to do next, or you feel that your rights were violated, or you simply want to have a better understanding of maximum medical improvement and how it applies to your case, contact us today via 470-518-5026 to take advantage of our expertise.