If you are planning to file a personal injury lawsuit against a person who caused you harm due to their negligence, you might come across the term “maximum medical improvement.”
Maximum medical improvement, or MMI, happens when an injured person reaches a state where their condition cannot improve or their treatment reaches a plateau. This is a simple but very important step in a personal injury claim. Reaching MMI does not mean that your treatment is over. You might still need to continue with treatment but it will only be to maintain your current health condition and not to improve it. Let’s compare two scenarios:
Mr. Smith slipped on spilled water on the floor at the grocery store. He tore his rotator cuff when he used his arm to break the fall. Mr. Smith underwent surgery to repair his rotator cuff but half a year later, he still feels a considerable amount of pain in his shoulder. He undergoes physical therapy and takes his pain medications as directed but nothing seems to be working. He books an appointment with his doctor who discovered that scar tissue had formed around the area where he’d had surgery. The doctor books him for a second surgery to remove the scar tissue. At this point, the doctor doesn’t believe that Mr. Smith has reached MMI because she believes his pain level will improve after the second surgery.
Mr. Smith got into a car accident and injured his back. He underwent surgery and physical therapy to help him heal. However, six months down the line, Mr. Smith still experiences a lot of pain on his back and he has to take pain medications. His doctor concludes that a second surgery cannot improve his current condition and he will have to restrain himself from doing strenuous tasks like lifting heavy objects. At this point, we can conclude that Mr. Smith has reached MMI because further treatment will not improve his current condition.
What is the Importance of Maximum Medical Improvement?
Maximum medical improvement is crucial in your personal injury case because it will help your Providence personal injury lawyer to estimate your future damages, i.e., pain and suffering, lost wages, medical costs, etc.
Until you reach maximum medical improvement, it will be impossible to determine a jury verdict or a fair settlement value. In the first scenario, Mr. Smith may have thought that he only needed one surgery to repair his rotator cuff. If he had decided to settle his case before reaching maximum medical recovery, he would not have accounted for the additional costs and time lost away from work from his second surgery.
How Will You Know If You Have Reached MMI?
Your doctor will determine if you have reached MMI. They will give you a “permanent impairment rating”, which is a percentage that represents the reduced functioning of your body.
Being at MMI does not automatically mean that your condition will worsen over time but there are instances where this may be the case. A good example would be developing arthritis in an injured joint. In a situation where your condition is expected to worsen after reaching MMI, your doctor will be able to predict how it will impact your health. This way, you will be able to recover a fair amount of compensation for the expected downturn in your health.
Keep in mind that every person’s case is different so it’s hard to predict when you will reach MMI. It could be within a few weeks, six months or even one year. It all depends on the severity of your injuries, your body’s ability to recover quickly and a host of other factors. Your doctor can give you an estimated timeline but most doctors will only think of placing you on MMI six months after your injury.
This can be very frustrating especially if you would like to be compensated as soon as possible after your accident. Your Providence personal injury lawyer knows that waiting until you reach MMI is the best way to ensure that you reach maximum medical improvement.
Get Your Case Reviewed for Free
At Kevin P Landry Law Offices, we can review your personal injury case free of charge. You can call us at 401-751-0101 or visit our Providence offices to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers. All our initial consultation are free.