Maximum medical improvement (MMI) refers to the point in medical treatment beyond which an injured person is not expected to get any better with further medical care.
Maximum medical improvement is an important concept in every personal injury claim. However, this does not mean that medical treatment stops after you have attained MMI. You may still require medical treatment to maintain your current health status. Here are few examples:
A man, whom we will call John, suffers a back injury in a car accident, which causes him intense pain. He is unable to sit, stand, or walk even for a short period. The doctors decide to perform back fusion surgery. A few months after the surgery John is able to move around, but still experiences pain. The doctors determine that John would still likely fell this pain even if they perform another surgery on him. So, they decide to put him on pain medications and physical therapy for the long term. This means, even though John has reached Maximum Medical Improvement, he is still not completely healthy and will need on-going medical treatment. In other words, MMI is a point after which there is no further recovery.
Why is MMI an important concept?
In any personal injury case, MMI is an important concept as it allows the injured person’s lawyer to predict future damages including medical expenses, wage loss, and pain and suffering. It is difficult to calculate the amount of compensation to pursue, unless the injured person has reached MMI. For example, in the case of John, no one could have predicted that the pain would remain even after surgery and that he will need to take medications and physical therapy for the life time.
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When a patient reaches MMI, the doctor may assign a permanent disability rating, which is a percentage that represents the reduced functioning of the body. The doctor would give two impairment ratings, one for the injured body part and the other for the whole body. For example, if you have suffered a permanent disability due to a leg injury, the doctor may give 20 percent rating to the affected leg and 8 percent rating to the whole body. If multiple body parts were injured, each will be assigned a different impairment rating.
It is important to note that it is the doctor and not your attorney who assigns impairment rating.
Even after you have reached MMI, it does not mean that your condition cannot worsen. If you have developed a progressive condition such as arthritis, it can worsen over time. When making a claim you must take all these factors into account to arrive at a fair value.
Get in touch with an accident attorney!
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, get in touch with a qualified accident attorney at The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We can evaluate your claim for free and help you determine what your next steps are, no matter where you are at in the process.