There are many milestones in a personal injury case, such as the initial consultation with a lawyer or sending a demand letter to the insurance company. One of the most important milestones is when the victim reaches the point of maximum medical improvement.
Friedman, Domiano and Smith’s experienced attorneys discuss what you need to know about maximum medical improvement after an injury.
If you have legal questions after suffering an injury, our Cleveland-based personal injury attorneys may be able to help. An initial consultation with an attorney is free, and you are not obligated to hire our firm. If you do choose to work with us, there will be no upfront fees to pay.
Experienced attorneys. Millions recovered. Call us: 216-621-0070.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) in Ohio?
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is the point when an injured victim’s condition has improved as much as it possibly can. This does not mean the injury has fully healed and is free from any limitations.
When you reach MMI, the healing process has reached a plateau. This means your condition is not expected to improve with further treatment, even though continued treatment may help the victim manage the injury.
For instance, doctors may prescribe continued treatment to help with pain management or secondary complications of an injury. However, it is important to recognize that this treatment, while helpful, will not result in further healing of the original injuries.
There are some victims who may yet experience some degree of further healing. However, this is unlikely. Even you do experience further recovery; your condition is unlikely to be much different than it was when you reached your MMI.
MMI is an important milestone in many types of personal injury cases, including cases involving car crashes, slip and fall accidents and workplace injuries.
Who Determines When You Have Reached MMI?
This is not something that is determined by the victim, insurance company or an attorney. The only person qualified to determine you have reached MMI is the primary doctor who has been treating your injury. Your doctor needs to do a physical examination and may also need to conduct diagnostic tests to determine if the healing process has plateaued.
Your doctor will determine if your injury may cause or increase your risk for future medical problems. He or she should also assess whether you need ongoing monitoring or follow-up care. This is important because some injuries may require surgery or other treatments in the future. These interventions are not going to improve your condition, but they may be needed to prevent secondary complications.
How Long Will It Take to Reach the Point of MMI?
Some people reach MMI in a few weeks or months, while others may take much longer to reach this point.
The length of time depends on numerous factors unique to your situation. For example, some people naturally respond to treatment more quickly than others. The severity of your injury also plays a significant role in your recovery time. Sometimes unexpected complications or secondary medical issues may spring up during your treatment and cause a setback.
Even if two people have the same diagnosis, no two injuries are the same. There are many reasons for this, such as a victim’s age or other preexisting medical problems.
Doctors may need to try multiple treatments to make sure there is nothing else they can do to improve your condition. These and other factors may impact how long it takes you to reach your MMI.
What Happens After Maximum Medical Improvement?
Your lawyer will not begin negotiating for compensation until you have reached the point of MMI. This is because there is no way to know the full value of your medical expenses until healing has stopped.
You will continue to accumulate medical bills until you reach MMI. You may even need treatment after this point. However, your lawyer cannot calculate what your future medical costs may be until you reach your MMI. Your lawyer will also wait until your doctor makes recommendations about future medical care you may need.
Depending on the injuries you sustained, your treating doctor may need to recommend work restrictions to prevent your injury from getting worse. This is important for your claim because it allows your lawyer to place a value on any loss of earning capacity you may have.
Pain and suffering is another consideration that can add value of your claim. Once your lawyer knows how much ongoing treatment you need, he or she can begin calculating these damages.
These are all reasons why MMI is such an important milestone in an injury claim and why your attorney needs to wait for this point before placing a value on your damages.
Insurance companies would prefer to settle before healing has stopped because your claim will be worth a lot less. There is a higher risk of this happening if you do not hire an attorney to deal with the insurance company on your behalf.
What if Your Injury Gets Worse After You Reach MMI?
There is a risk of your condition deteriorating after you reach maximum medical improvement. This could be caused by numerous factors, some of which are out of your control (age, family medical history, accidents, etc.).
One of the reasons to hire an experienced lawyer is because he or she can try to account for worsening of your condition when seeking compensation. If you have a condition that has been known to worsen as you age, your lawyer can account for this when calculating future medical expenses.
The possibility of your condition worsening is something your doctor may note in your medical records when he or she says you have reached MMI.
However, there is no way to predict the future. There is no foolproof way of determining if your injury will get much worse down the road. That is why it is vital to continue the treatment recommended by your doctors. You also need to make sure your lawyer accounts for the cost of all ongoing treatment your doctor recommends.
How Does Maximum Medical Improvement Affect an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Claim?
When an injured Ohio worker reaches MMI, he or she can no longer receive temporary total compensation. However, this compensation may be continued if you later become totally or temporarily disabled. Even if this does not happen, you can continue to receive compensation for the medical treatment you need to keep your condition stable.
When temporary total compensation stops in an Ohio workers’ comp claim, you may be eligible for other benefits, including:
- Wage loss
- Non-working wage loss
- Lump sum payment
- Percentage of your permanent partial disability
- Permanent total disability
Sometimes you may have to undergo an independent medical exam after your treating doctor says you have reached your MMI. If the results of this exam differ from your doctor’s findings, your claim will be sent to the Industrial Commission of Ohio for a final decision about your MMI status.
Have You Been in Injured in an Accident? Contact Friedman, Domiano and Smith
It is hard to recover full compensation for a serious injury if you do not hire a lawyer to help you. However, you do not want to hire just any lawyer. You need one who has significant experience and has proven that he or she can recover the full compensation victims need.
At Friedman, Domiano and Smith, we have been helping injured victims in Northeast Ohio for decades. We have helped many get the compensation they needed for medical bills and other expenses.
We are ready to help you during this difficult time, and there are no upfront costs to pay.
We are ready to take your call: 216-621-0070.
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