What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
In the context of personal injury law, Maximum Medical Improvement (“MMI”) is the point at which, in the opinion of your physician, your injuries have improved as much as they are likely to, and no further change in your condition is expected. In other words, you have reached a state where your condition cannot be improved any further, or, with respect to the healing process, you have reached a treatment plateau. When you reach the point of MMI, your condition has stabilized and any functional improvement is unlikely, even with further medical treatment or physiotherapy.
Who can determine whether an individual has reached the point of Maximum Medical Improvement?
Put simply, a physician is the only person who may determine whether you have reached the point of MMI. Oftentimes, they will also provide the date at which this point was reached. When you reach the point of Maximum Medical Improvement your physician may then begin to determine the partial or permanent impairment that will likely affect you for the rest of your life. This becomes crucial as the opinion provided by the physician will outline your permanent level of disability, and your permanent level of disability will help determine the extent of compensation which is available to you.
Independent Medical Examinations
Although your physician may determine that you have reached the point of MMI, the defendant may ask you to submit to an independent medical examination (“IME”). During this process, you will present to a qualified physician. They will read and analyze your medical records, they will conduct an in person examination, and they will determine whether you have reached the point of MMI. If a report is generated, the defendant will then provide this report to you, the plaintiff. Independent medical examinations are often requested by defendants in order to refute the allegations made by the plaintiff i.e. that there is some level of partial or permanent disability. The defendant may also dispute the extent of the disability or impairment. Generally speaking, as the level of impairment decreases, the level of compensation, which is available to the plaintiff in a court of law, will decrease as well.
What is the importance of reaching the point of Maximum Medical Improvement in the personal injury context?
A tortfeasor, or more specifically, the person who is legally responsible for causing your injuries, is required to put you back in the place you would have been in had the negligent act not occurred. MMI is critical to this legal principle. It is critical because the court will determine your functional ability just before the negligent act, in order to compare it to your functional ability after the negligent act. The point of MMI will allow the court to determine your long term functional handicap, or ability, after the negligent act. The tortfeasor is liable, or legally responsible, to compensate you for the difference in your functional ability.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you are unsure what you can claim for, the legal team at Wagners can help you. You can reach us at 902-425-7330 or 1-800-465-8794.