Maximum Medical Improvement: A Critical Point in a Personal Injury Case.
In any personal injury or accident case, reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is critical when it comes to the injured person receiving fair compensation from the person who caused the injuries, the at-fault party, or from the insurance company.
What is MMI? According to the Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, published by the American Medical Association, Maximum Medical Improvement is “a condition or state that is well stabilized and unlikely to change substantially in the next year, with or without medical treatment.” A medical doctor determines MMI, by reviewing the patient’s medical records and examining their injury or injuries. When the doctor determines that the patient’s MMI has been reached, when done accurately, it means that the accident victim is either fully-recovered or should not anticipate further improvement or deterioration of his or her medical condition. In other words, this is the best the patient is going to get.
Why is reaching MMI important? MMI is critical when it comes to negotiating the benefits or compensation for a person’s accident case with the insurance companies. This is because at MMI it is then known what the long term affects of the accident are and then a reasonable value of the case can be determined.
At the time of MMI, the doctor may also issue a Permanent Partial Disability Rating (PPD) for the part or parts of the accident victim’s body that was injured, which indicates that the accident caused a permanent medical condition. The PPD rating is significant because, the higher the rating, the more severe and long lasting the injury, which should be reflected in the injured party’s settlement amount.
After the date of MMI has been determined, an insurance company can sometimes stop paying benefits to the injured person. Before or after the MMI determination, the insurance company can try to settle the claim or case by offering to pay the injured person a certain amount in exchange for a “release”. By signing a release, the person is giving up their right to bring any further claim against the insurance company’s policy holder, or the person that caused their injuries.
Recommendations: While the insurance company might try to prematurely negotiate a settlement, it is typically best to make final negotiations after full recovery or after reaching MMI. This is because, only after MMI has been reached and determined, will the person know the extent, cost, consequences and impact of their injuries on their life.
Settling a claim before the MMI has been reached, and thus before the PPD is issued, may drastically decrease the amount of compensation a person injured in an accident receives from the insurance company.
It is also important to keep in mind that even after MMI has been determination, more medical treatment might be required to maintain the injury at the MMI point. Negotiation with the insurance company before the point of MMI will involve guess work and estimates that might not be accurate and fully compensate the injured person. (For other information on determining the value of your personal injury case you can read this library article.)
Other Important Notes: Although it is normally wise to start the negotiation process after reaching MMI, it is of vital importance to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident. Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident will allow the injured person to be on equal footing with the insurance companies and insurance adjusters who may not have their best interests in mind. In addition, insurance companies will be more inclined to settle on the victim’s terms when they are faced with possible litigation, knowing that they are being represented by an experienced attorney.
With a lawyer, acting on YOUR behalf and in YOUR best interests, you will have the best chance at receiving full and fair compensation for the injuries you have suffered. This is because, a lawyer that has experience with personal injury cases, negotiating with insurance companies, and understands the medical aspect of your injuries, will be able to calculate the monetary losses, pain and suffering the injury has already caused you and will cause in the future and help you make informed decisions.
Seven Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Florida Accident Case, written by Attorney Jeffrey Meldon, is a consumer guide book for accident cases in Florida. Whether you have been in an accident or not, this book contains valuable information for you! To get your free copy, contact us and request that it be sent to you free of charge or you can request it immediately online. All free of charge and with no obligation.