More than 122 million Americans suffer accidental injuries annually. A good number of these people push to reclaim their losses by filing a personal injury claim case against the at-fault party. The Aronfeld Trial Lawyers have handled hundreds of such cases and have seen first-hand the impact of accident injuries on the health, quality of life, earnings, and other aspects of the victim’s life.
With some injury cases being more complex and complicated than others, a lawyer may recommend that victims reach maximum medical improvement before making their claim. But what is a maximum medical improvement, and how does it affect your injury claim?
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
A maximum medical improvement (MMI) signals the point where the injured victim has fully recovered from the accident injuries they sustained. The recovery, in this sense, could mean different things to each accident victim, depending on the severity and type of injury sustained.
- MMI could mean that the victim has fully healed and returned to their pre-accident condition/state.
- MMI could mean that the victim’s injuries have reached the maximum complications and would not further degenerate or improve with future medical treatment.
- MMI could also mean the victim will require specific maintenance treatment for their injuries to avoid further degeneration. This is often common in injuries like paraplegia or quadriplegia.
Who Decides An Accident Victim Has Reached Maximum Medical Improvement?
Your doctor or medical provider is in the best position to decide whether the accident victim has reached maximum medical improvement or not. The decision will be based on careful monitoring of the victim’s health to understand their current state in relation to the earlier diagnosis.
When patients are determined to have reached their maximum medical improvement, the doctors educate them on what happens going forward. This may include regular health monitoring, regular or periodic treatments to maintain stability and prevent future complications, etc.
How does Maximum Medical Improvement Affect an Injury Claim?
A couple of things can change if you’ve been advised to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement before filing your case. Ultimately, the important things to consider are;
- The emotional, financial, and physical/practical effect of the accident and injuries
- The severity of the injuries sustained
- How long it will take/it has taken to reach MMI
- The short and long-term effects of the accident and injuries, validity of evidence collected after the accident, and more.
In most cases, waiting to reach MMI offers a good advantage to accident victims. Aside from the time taken to reach MMI, accident victims are presented with a better overview of what they lost due to the accident and injuries. These losses can therefore be accurately calculated based on past and future costs required to sustain them at maximum medical improvement.
By waiting to reach maximum medical improvement, you’ll understand the following better;
- The cost of medical treatment needed to reach maximum medical improvement
- The cost of ongoing medical care to keep you at the maximum medical improvement stage
- The impact of the accident and injury sustained on your ability to work and earning potential
- How the injuries sustained affected your mental and emotional well-being, relationships, and other aspects of your life.
Should I wait until I have reached MMI before sending a demand letter?
In most cases, Yes. Waiting until you have reached your maximum medical improvement ensures that you get a clear-cut view of what the accident and injuries have cost you. It protects you from making immature claims and paying out of pocket at a later date for additional costs incurred on treating the accident injuries.
What happens if the injury or illness worsens in the future?
Maximum Medical Improvement simply means your condition has gotten to a point where it cannot make further positive improvements with additional treatment. It is important to note that this doesn’t mean the victim’s health cannot degenerate further.
If the victim’s injuries worsen after treatment has stopped, the treatment specialists will detail the decline and initiate further treatments to improve the patient’s condition.
What’s the impact of MMI on workers’ compensation claims?
Waiting to reach Maximum Medical Improvement is good in many cases, but for Workers’ Compensation claims, the victim is entitled to treatment costs until the MMI is declared.
At the end of each settlement, injury victims are required to sign a release document that forfeits their rights to future claims. It is possible for the victim to miss out on possible future treatment costs in such situations, especially if they had chosen the lump sum payout option presented by the insurance provider.
Despite the downsides of waiting to reach maximum medical improvement, it is one of the better choices to make when filing an injury claim. Speak to an attorney near you for more information.