Your journey to recovery is a big part of your personal injury claim. While many injuries follow a predictable pattern, some chart their own course. What appears to be a minor injury may cause complication after complication, while an apparently severe injury may heal with minimal delays. That’s why the term “maximum medical improvement” is important. Not only is it important in terms of your recovery, but it also plays a big role in your compensation.
If you’ve been injured because of another person’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation. Call Kingbird Legal at 484-289-4880 to set up a consultation with our Washington DC team.
Defining Maximum Medical Improvement
The term maximum medical improvement is commonly used in personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims. A patient has reached maximum medical compensation once they have made as much progress in their recovery as they are likely to. Further progress may be technically possible, but it’s extremely unlikely—even with additional medical interventions. In some cases, maximum medical improvement is the same as making a full recovery. If you break your arm and it sets without any loss of mobility after six weeks in a cast, you’ve both made a full recovery and reached maximum medical improvement.
In other cases, a patient may reach maximum medical improvement before they make a full recovery. Let’s look at the same example as before. You break your arm and get it set in a cast. However, it takes twice as long to heal as it should. Once you get the cast off, the bone is healed but in such a way that you can no longer fully extend your arm. You’re unlikely to recover any further, but you aren’t the same as you were before your injury.
Why MMI is So Important in Personal Injury Cases
As you may expect, medical expenses make up the largest part of many personal injury claims. Medical care is expensive in the United States, and even mild injuries can lead to thousands of dollars in bills. Reaching MMI is perhaps the best way to know exactly how much your medical care will cost you.
Consider what could happen if you accept a settlement before reaching maximum medical improvement. You’ve been in treatment for months and the insurance company is getting pushy. They don’t want to wait for dozens of other treatments that may or may not work, and they may even be threatening to take back their settlement offer. Against your better judgment, you accept their offer.
The week after that, your injury takes a turn for the worse. You have to go back to see your specialist and they recommend a new treatment—one that will likely cost thousands of dollars. But since you’ve already accepted the insurance company’s settlement offer, you are now on the hook for this treatment. You cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for more.
How Do You Know When You’ve Reached MMI?
Determining when someone has reached maximum medical improvement is a task assigned to the healthcare professionals treating the patient in question. This can be complicated when dealing with complicated injuries, as the victim may be seeing numerous doctors as part of their treatment. Doctors may have differing ideas about when a patient has reached maximum medical improvement, so it’s important to do what you can to support your recovery. That means attending all of your scheduled appointments, taking prescriptions as intended, doing any physical therapy exercises that have been recommended, and following your treatment plan exactly.
You should also stay in clear communication with your doctors throughout your treatment. Make sure you know what your treatment plan entails and what the next step is. If you must miss an appointment, reschedule it as soon as possible to show that you are compliant with your treatment plan.
This will make it easier to know when you have reached MMI and when you can begin negotiating.
Explore Your Legal Options with the Team at Kingbird Legal
When you’re ready to start your personal injury claim, the team at Kingbird Legal is here to support you. Let’s schedule a consultation to talk more about your options. Call us at 484-289-4880 or contact us online.