What Is Maximum Medical Improvement and Why Does It Matter?

Maximal medical improvement is a term that describes an injured person whose medical condition has reached the highest point it possibly can.

If you’re a business owner you’ve probably heard of Maximum Medical Improvement. The general public, however, may not hear this term regularly or understand it’s significance during a workers compensation claim. The unfortunate truth is that this lack of knowledge could have significant effects on a person’s workers’ compensation situation. Here is a general overview of what Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is and why it matters for injured workers.

injured worker speaking with doctor

What is MMI?

Maximal medical improvement is a term that describes an injured person whose medical condition has reached the highest point it possibly can. One thing to note is that this designation does not specify a person who is back to their original health. Instead, it only means that the victim is as healthy as they can be.

Who Determines It?

In the context of Missouri workers’ compensation, a company doctor will decide whether or not you’ve reached MMI. The standard way of doing so is measuring your health markers and physical capabilities through a series of tests. Sometimes, reaching MMI will mean you can complete all of the work tasks you used to, and you can go back to your job. Other times, you will still have limitations and no realistic path towards gaining your health back.

The Dangers of MMI

The first issue that comes with maximum medical improvement is that some of your benefits might stop. The one you should worry about most is your medical treatment. The theory goes that because you are at MMI, you do not need further treatment. Sometimes this assertion is true, but it often is not. The second danger is that an MMI designation may make it harder for you to reopen your case later on. A situation that frequently plays out is a worker’s condition worsening after being given MMI. This classification makes obtaining further benefits more difficult.

Benefits You Can Retain

One fact you can take solace in is that you can keep collecting many of your workers’ comp benefits even after attaining MMI. Some of the most common of them are lost wages, total disability, and partial disability. As we explained above, MMI does not always mean that you can go back to work full time. The result is that most of your benefits will likely stay safe.

What You Can Do if You Disagree

An adverse, but relatively common, occurrence is a worker being given MMI despite them believing they can still improve. Unfortunately, employees often have a tough time speaking up and often end up suffering the consequences. This situation is best tackled with an attorney, so those that are in it should consider speaking with one.

Though reaching maximum medical improvement might put your benefits at risk, it is ultimately a good thing. You want to get as healthy as possible, and an MMI designation usually means you have reached that point. The only time that it is problematic is when it is assigned to you unjustly. If you ever find yourself in that situation, speak with an experienced Missouri workers compensation attorney.

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Updated: July 29, 2019

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