Understanding Maximum Medical Improvement in a Construction Accident Claim
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
If you are injured in a construction accident on the job, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provides you with medical treatment and temporary disability payments. After some time, your doctor may inform you that your condition has improved to the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). It’s possible that maximum medical improvement still leaves you unable to work at your previous position. You might also wonder what MMI means for your workers’ compensation benefits.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
Maximum medical improvement or MMI is based on the premise that employees healing from serious injuries reach a point where they can no longer progress. Doctors have the sole authority to determine whether an injured worker has reached MMI.
If you were injured at work, the insurance company handling your workers’ compensation benefits can order an independent medical examination (IME) from a doctor of their choice. The doctor will decide if you’ve attained maximum medical improvement because of these injuries.
How to Prepare for an Independent Medical Examination (IME)
The doctor will get to know your history and ongoing symptoms during the examination. They may also order an X-ray or a lab test if necessary. They can ask you to undergo a series of tests to determine whether you have limitations to your range of motion because of your injuries.
To prepare for your examination, you can do the following:
- Be respectful and answer questions about your injury as accurately as possible during the examination. Your answers should reflect what’s in your claim.
- Bring along someone, such as a friend or family member, to observe the examination and verify what was said to bolster your claim.
- Keep an optimistic mindset. Remember this examination is just part of the standard procedures for proceeding with your claim.
If you wish to further prepare for an IME, your attorney can help you answer questions so you can provide the most accurate information and continue receiving benefits.
Understanding an Impairment Rating in an IME
Your doctor will assign you an impairment rating during an IME, which estimates the level at which your body cannot function properly after being injured. This is converted to a percentage to show the degree of functional impairment. The doctor will base impairment on the following conditions:
- Musculoskeletal impairment that includes the tendons, ligaments, joints, and extremities.
- Neurological impairment due to brain injuries or damage to the peripheral nerves and spine.
What Happens to My Benefits After I Reach MMI?
When you reach MMI and receive your impairment rating after filing a workers compensation claim, you have these options:
Return to Work with Restrictions
Your employer may accommodate you with some restrictions, such as limiting the weight carried or letting you sit in a supportive chair to accommodate your back injury.
Come Back to Work When Fully Healed
The doctor might allow you to return to work sooner after your injury if they believe you are fully healed and the injuries didn’t result in permanent disabilities. Your benefits will stop once you’re cleared for work.
Make a Claim for Long Term Disability Benefits
Workers’ compensation may provide partial or total disability benefits if you cannot work because of your injuries. A Michigan workers’ compensation lawyer can advise you regarding the legal options available if you believe you are eligible for permanent disability benefits.
Determine Your Options with a Lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.
At the law firm of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we know that a workplace injury can impact you and your family long-term. If you feel that filing for compensation is appropriate, working with one of our workers’ comp lawyers is essential to getting the financial support you deserve. To schedule a case evaluation, contact us for a free consultation at 866-MICH-LAW.
What if I disagree with the doctor’s evaluation that I reached MMI?
Consider going for a second medical examination with another doctor to assess your injuries if you are unsure about the accuracy of the IME report. To ensure maximum medical improvement, you should evaluate your current health benefits, your private health insurance coverage, and your intentions for seeking a second opinion. You can ask your lawyer if it is worth seeing another doctor for a second opinion.
Does the job have to be the same one as I was doing before?
The job offer does not have to be at your previous job’s same skill or pay level. People who have been injured on the job and receive workers’ compensation benefits can take a lower-paying job without losing eligibility for those benefits. The after-tax value of these benefits is 80% of the wage-loss benefits.
What happens if I think I can no longer do the job if I receive the offer to return to work?
Your doctor can approve you not returning to your position to prevent further injury and harm. If you refuse to go back to the job, your employer might contest your claim to benefits. If you wish to continue receiving benefits, you must accept a job that doesn’t endanger your health, is commutable from your house, and has work that you can accomplish without restriction.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.