When you get injured in an accident, it can take a long time to recover. Minor injuries may heal in a matter of weeks, while severe ones can take months or even years for full recovery. In unfortunate cases, such as paralysis, individuals may end up with a permanent, life-altering injury.
Over the course of your treatment, your doctors will use what’s called maximum medical improvement (MMI) to let you know what your recovery will look like in the long-term. This information can then be used by your personal injury lawyer to help calculate damages in your personal injury claim. Put another way, without knowing your MMI, it can be difficult to calculate a fair settlement amount in your accident case.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
The term “maximum medical improvement” is the doctor’s prognosis of the highest level of recovery you are expected to achieve after experiencing an accident-related injury or illness. It does not imply complete recovery but rather represents the point at which further recovery is unlikely. For instance, if you were badly burned in a car accident, and despite extensive medical interventions over the next 12 months, complete recovery does not seem possible, the doctors may declare that you have reached your maximum medical improvement, with scars present for the rest of your life.
How Does Maximum Medical Improvement Affect Personal Injury Settlements?
Maximum medical improvement significantly affects the outcome of personal injury settlements, especially in cases of permanent injuries. Here are several ways that MMI affects personal injury settlements:
Basis for Settlement Calculations
MMI serves as a foundation for determining the extent of an individual’s recovery. It sets the framework for estimating the long-term impact of the injury on the person’s life. When negotiating a settlement, the MMI assessment helps quantify the damages by considering the severity of the injury, ongoing medical needs, and potential long-term consequences.
Calculation of Damages
Damages in a personal injury case typically include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future medical costs. Once MMI is reached, future medical costs become a significant factor. Settlement calculations may encompass compensation for ongoing medical treatments, rehabilitation, and necessary accommodations, especially in cases of permanent injuries or disability.
Impact on Compensation Amount
Determining maximum medical improvement can influence the amount of compensation sought in a personal injury case. If you have reached MMI, your attorney will consider the long-term implications of your injury, including potential future medical expenses and the impact on your ability to earn a living. Permanent injuries, as indicated by MMI, often result in higher settlement amounts to account for the ongoing and possibly lifelong consequences of the injury.
Consideration of Impairment Ratings
After reaching MMI, individuals may receive an impairment rating, indicating the degree of permanent damage they will suffer as a result of the accident. This rating is used to calculate compensation for the lasting effects of the injury. Compensation may be based on a predetermined formula, with a set amount for each percentage of impairment. The higher the impairment rating, the greater the potential compensation.
Timeline for compensation
MMI also influences the timeline for compensation. In many jurisdictions the law may automatically consider an individual to have reached MMI after a certain period. In Washington State, the injured party has three years to bring a personal injury claim against the negligent party, in part to allow time to reach MMI.
Seek the help of a personal injury lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!