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Health & Medicine

What is Max Medical Improvement?

— November 1, 2022

The reason MMI isn’t discussed much in cases involving automobile accidents is because mounting medical bills and related expenses are used to prompt that injured party into taking an early settlement.

Max Medical Improvement (MMI) is a term used by the medical community that refers to you reaching a point in your treatment where the doctor who is in charge of treating the injuries you sustained during an accident has stabilized your health.

Why Max Medical Improvement is Important

It’s important to understand that just because you have reached MMI, it doesn’t mean you’re life will return to exactly how it was before your accident. What it means is that you’ve reached a point in your recovery where your doctor feels you have healed as much as you’re going to. If you’re lucky, that means you can return to work and enjoy the type of lifestyle you led before the accident. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Many people find that even though they have reached MMI, they continue to suffer from complications that relate to the accident. At this point, your doctor feels those complications are permanent.

MMI is important for two reasons. 

The first reason is that knowing you have healed as much as you’re going to allows you to stop focusing on your recovery and access what your future looks like.

The second reason MMI is important is that it is the point where your legal team can look at the costs connected to the accident and project your future expenses and determine how much compensation you’re entitled to.

In most cases, your doctor will recommend that you get a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) once you’ve reached MMI. The FCE is a way of measuring your medical limitations. Before the FCE is administered, the physical and cognitive requirements you need for your job are determined. The FCE determines if you now have both the physical and cognitive ability to return to the job you did before the accident. The FCE is used to inform both you and your employer if job limitations are a part of your future.

What Type of Cases Does MMI Impact?

For the most part, you only normally hear about MMI in cases that involve a workplace accident and worker’s compensation. However, there are times when it will come into play in cases that involve automobile accidents.

Police officer leaning in window of car after accident; image by Matt Chesin, via
Image by Matt Chesin, via

The reason MMI isn’t discussed much in cases involving automobile accidents is because mounting medical bills and related expenses are used to prompt that injured party into taking an early settlement. While it’s easy to understand why victims accept the early settlement, in many cases, this decision costs them. The problem with taking the early settlement is that it’s difficult to know just how significant a role the injuries sustained during the accident will have on the victim’s future. In cases that involve spinal and/or traumatic brain injuries, victims don’t always make a full recovery and ultimately find themselves dealing with financially draining medical expenses for the rest of their lives.

Why is Max Medical Improvement Discussed in Worker’s Compensation Cases?

There’s a good reason why MMI is an important term in worker’s compensation cases. When MMI is obtained, that’s the point where your employer is no longer required to cover your medical expenses. Since it’s often impossible to tell how extensive your medical bills will become, it’s almost always in your best interest to wait until you’ve reached MMI before you discuss a potential settlement.

Once you reach MMI, you will no longer be eligible to collect lost wage benefits, but that doesn’t mean you’ll lose out on everything. Depending on the injury and the results of the FCE, you may be entitled to:

  • Vocational rehab
  • Ongoing medical care for health complications that are directly linked to the injury you sustained in the accident

What Happens if Your Health Declines After Reaching Max Medical Improvement?

One of the biggest concerns people have when they reach MMA is what happens if their health becomes worse. While there is no denying that a serious injury usually gets worse and creates additional health problems as time passes, the fact that you’ve reached MMI means you probably won’t get additional funding to cover your medical expenses, unless you already were under ongoing, permanent medical care at the time the MMI was issued.

The fact that you’re basically on your own if you health declines after reaching MMI is one of the reasons it’s so important to seek professional legal help. A good Arizona injury attorney will look at your case, help you determine what kind of settlement you’re entitled to, and then help you win that settlement. Even though you want to wait until obtaining MMI before pursuing a settlement, it’s a good idea to contact a personal injury lawyer shortly after your accident. They’ll help you keep an accurate record of your recovery process which can help you obtain the high settlement you deserve.

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