If you have been seriously injured in an accident, a quick settlement is rarely in your best interest. In most cases, you should not settle until your doctor says that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
In fact, the American Medical Association’s Guides to Evaluating Permanent Impairment, which are guidelines that many doctors use to determine when a patient has reached MMI, recommends that you should wait a full 12 months after an injury before you and your doctors make that determination.
MMI is one of the most important terms that any client in an injury case should learn. It means that your doctor has come to the determination that you have healed as much as you are going to heal.
This does not mean that you are completely healed; rather, it means that despite any ongoing treatment you may receive, your condition will never improve. For some, it may even get worse, but it will not improve.
Either way, reaching MMI may bring both good and bad news. The bad news is that any money you are receiving to offset your medical bills under state workers’ compensation law or maritime law will be discontinued. The good news is that this signifies the end of your injury claim. In most cases, if you have a permanent disability, you will be entitled to compensation.
Furthermore, from a procedural standpoint, MMI triggers a number of different events:
- Your doctor may refer you to a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) to get a rating for any permanent impairment you may have and/or to define any permanent work restrictions.
- You may be inclined to settle your workers’ compensation claim for a lump sum settlement, since there should not be further significant changes in your long-term prognosis.
- You and your attorney will send a formal demand for compensation to the plaintiff or his or her insurer, if you haven’t already done so.
Why Maximum Medical Improvement is Important
When an insurance company is sure that it has an obligation to compensate you for your injuries, they will attempt to settle with you as soon as possible. However, the settlement they offer will likely be based on the assumption that you need little or no further medical attention for your injuries.
Upon settling, you will be required to sign a release that absolves the insurance company of any future liability for your injuries. This will also preclude you from reopening your claim to seek more money for future medical expenses, should the need arises. By settling too soon, you may be grossly undercompensated for your injuries and left holding the bill for any future medical expenses you incur.
For this reason, it is extremely important to wait until you have reached MMI before accepting any offer to settle your injury claim or lawsuit. You, your doctors, and your attorney will then have more certainty regarding the need for long-term care, work restrictions, and/or any permanent disability that have arisen as a result of the accident.
Contact a Louisiana Personal Injury Attorney
An accurate determination of your MMI and impairment rating is vital for obtaining the compensation entitled to you by law. If you have any questions about your MMI or impairment rating, call Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC at 504-581-4892 or fill out our free, no obligation case review form.