If you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, you may wonder how you will be affected if a doctor determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement or MMI. When you reach MMI, it means that your work-related injury has healed as much as possible, and you are not expected to see further improvement from medical treatment.
Injured workers can continue to receive temporary disability benefits if they’re still unable to work at their previous capacity. But when an injured worker has reached MMI, an injured employee may consider seeking a settlement.
At Gregory Smith Law, LLC, our attorneys have fought for the rights of injured workers across Georgia for more than 25 years. To learn more about how we can assist with your workers’ compensation claim, call us today for a free consultation or contact us online.
Definition of MMI
Maximum medical improvement is a term used by doctors and insurance companies to describe the point at which an injured employee’s medical condition has become stable and additional medical treatment is unlikely to improve the worker’s condition.
MMI could mean that your injury has healed entirely. At that point, you could return to work and shouldn’t experience difficulties performing your usual job-related duties.
However, you may be left with a permanent disability after you reach MMI. You might not be able to return to the job you had before your work-related accident, or you may have certain physical limitations.
Once you’ve reached MMI, the doctor should assign you a disability rating if you haven’t made a full recovery. This percentage indicates the level of impairment you have to a specific body part, multiple body parts, or your whole body. It will also determine the number of weeks you’re eligible to receive benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance company.
How Do You Calculate Maximum Medical Improvement?
A doctor should perform a thorough medical examination to determine your MMI and disability rating. They will review your diagnosis, treatment, and your current condition. In their medical opinion, they will decide if they believe your recovery has plateaued or if additional medical care could further heal your injury. If they think that no form of treatment will improve your condition, they will place you at MMI.
Once you reach MMI, the doctor will need to evaluate your physical or mental condition to assign a disability rating. The disability rating is a percentage between 1 percent and 100 percent. The doctor might assign a percentage to a specific body part or your whole body to indicate the amount of loss of use.
How Does MMI Affect Workers’ Compensation?
In Georgia, when an injured employee reaches MMI, it does not immediately affect their eligibility to receive temporary partial disability benefits or temporary total benefits.
It’s important to understand that MMI doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healed. It just means additional medical treatment isn’t likely to improve your condition. You may not be able to work or perform at the capacity you were able to do before the accident occurred.
However, once your doctor determines you have reached MMI and assigns you a disability rating, you’re entitled to begin collecting permanent partial disability benefits (PPD). The amount and duration of your disability benefits will depend on your average weekly wages before your disabling injury, your disability rating, and the affected body part.
For example, let’s say your weekly wages before the workplace accident was $600. Workers’ compensation benefits pay two-thirds of a person’s average weekly wages, which would mean yours would be $400.
Let’s assume your doctor assigned you a 10 percent disability rating for your whole body. According to the loss of use schedule, whole-body impairment allows for up to 300 weeks of benefit payments. However, since you were assigned a 10 percent disability rating, you would receive $400 weekly payments for a maximum of 30 weeks or a lump sum settlement of $12,000.
How Long After Reaching MMI Do You Receive Your Workers’ Comp Settlement?
The timeline of a workers’ compensation claim will depend on various factors. The insurance company’s goal is typically to save money whenever possible. The insurer may attempt various tactics to withhold the maximum benefits you deserve. However, a skilled attorney will be able to determine what you should expect to receive based on various factors, such as:
- How much you’re owed in permanent partial disability benefits
- The estimated cost of future medical expenses
- Any current unpaid medical bills
- Other disability benefits the insurance company has not yet paid
A workers’ compensation attorney at Gregory Smith Law can help you pursue the full amount of benefits you are owed from the insurance company. We can help you evaluate whether it is more advantageous for you to receive your disability benefits as a lump-sum payment or be paid over a period of time.
Once you and the insurance company agree upon a settlement and that settlement is approved by a judge, you should expect to receive the settlement amount within 20 days of the judge’s order.
How Our Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You
Whether you suffered injuries at your office, on a construction site, or while delivering products in your vehicle, you may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. You can depend on the team at Gregory Smith Law, LLC to stand up for your rights and be your advocate if you’ve been hurt on the job.
The legal team at Gregory Smith Law focuses solely on workers’ compensation claims, appeals, and lawsuits related to workplace injuries. We are dedicated to helping injured workers get back on their feet. We will remain in your corner as long as you need us. Call us now or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Augusta workers’ compensation lawyers.