Reaching MMI and Your Impairment Rating Can Affect Your Workers’ Compensation
When you are injured on the job and you get treatment, it may seem like you will never recover. The road can seem long and difficult, but with most injuries, at least some level of improvement can be expected. But how much? And when does a doctor know when you have recovered as much as you can be expected to recover?
Maximum Medical Improvement
The concept of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), means that a victim has improved and recovered to some extent, but that no further recovery is reasonably expected. The victim has improved as much as the doctor reasonably believes will be possible.
In some cases, the worker may reach MMI when he or she is fully and completely healed. In other situations, a worker may still have lingering ongoing injuries and disabilities, but because the doctor does not feel that any further improvement can be anticipated, the doctor will declare the worker at MMI.
By Florida law, if you are getting wage benefits under workers’ compensation, six weeks before your benefits are scheduled to terminate, your doctor must see if you have reached MMI, and if so, the doctor must give you an impairment rating. An impairment rating is a rating of how much of your total body is affected or hampered by your injury.
A strain or sprain in the neck may lead to a relatively low impairment rating. Someone with ongoing traumatic brain injuries, or partial paralysis, may have a much higher impairment rating. As a general rule, an impairment rating of over 20% will mean that the worker is unable to ever return to work.
Benefits and Impairment Ratings
Workers’ compensation benefits are often paid based on impairment rating. For example, for every impairment rating from 1-10%, the employee will be entitled to two weeks of benefits per percentage point. At the other end of the spectrum, the employee will be entitled to 6 weeks of benefits for every percentage of impairment that is more than 21%. Florida provides a calculator where you can see what your benefits may be, based on your final impairment rating.
Premature MMI Declarations
Unfortunately, many medical providers and employers try to manipulate the system, because once you reach MMI (according to your doctor), you may lose the right to get certain benefits, or continuing medical treatment. This is why many workers’ compensation doctors will try to say that you are fully healed before you really are.
This is a leading cause of workers’ compensation lawsuits. If the workers’ compensation doctor says that you are free and clear to go to work having reached MMI, your employer will terminate future benefits and expect you to return to work. However, you may feel that you need more therapy, or that you need a certain procedure, or you simply may feel that you can still get better with more time.
Injured at work or on the job? Make sure you’re prepared to fight for your benefits if they are cut off prematurely. The Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys at Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian can help you. Call us today to discuss obtaining damages after any accident. Schedule a consultation today.