Even though some injuries may require ongoing or even lifelong treatment, there comes a point after the injury when healing stops and is unlikely to continue. In other words, the injury has stabilized as much as it is likely to, even if the victim continues to receive treatment.
This point in the treatment process is also known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). It is an important milestone in the victim’s recovery because it is the point when treating doctors can assess the long-term effects of the injury. Even though more treatment is unlikely to improve the patient’s overall condition, it may help improve his or her quality of life.
Maximum medical improvement is also an important milestone in the process of seeking compensation for an injury. Your attorney can determine the full value of your claim because he or she can factor in the likely cost of ongoing treatment after the claim is settled.
Below, we discuss MMI in greater detail and why it is important to wait for this point to negotiate a settlement. Insurers would like to settle before this point because it will cost them a lot less money.
Defining Maximum Medical Improvement
MMI is the point when an injury victim has either fully recovered from an injury or when continued medical treatment is unlikely to do much to improve the victim’s overall condition. Unfortunately, some injury victims will never return to their pre-accident state of health. They will have permanent limitations or symptoms related to their accident injuries.
Another way to think about MMI is that it is the point when the victim’s medical future is clear. For example, say that you suffered a severe spinal cord injury. It could take several months to a year or more to get a clear picture of any permanent limitations you sustained. Some victims may regain a significant amount of their pre-accident mobility, while others will not.
Who Determines When an Injury Victim Has Reached MMI?
Your doctors are the only ones who can determine if you have reached MMI. They have the expertise to evaluate a patient and run tests to determine where the victim is in his or her recovery.
If you disagree with your doctor about where you are in your recovery, you may want to seek a second opinion from another doctor. Maybe you think have more room for improvement or that your injuries are worse than the first doctor says.
It is also important to note that the insurance company may request that you have an additional medical exam. You will be sent to a doctor who most likely will not agree with your treating physician. Many of these doctors are paid up to $500,000 a year to write reports alleging that your injuries are not as bad as your treating physician says.
How Long Could It Take to Reach MMI?
It depends on the injury and its severity. If you had surgery, it is possible you will reach MMI faster than someone who had an injury that could not be fixed with surgery.
Some injuries require a lot of physical therapy and rehabilitation. As your rehab progresses, doctors can get a better idea of how much of your pre-accident strength and mobility you are regaining or are likely to regain in the future.
Following Your Treatment Plan
It is vital that you follow the doctor’s recommended treatment plan. This not only helps with your recovery, but also shows you are taking the injury seriously and are trying to recover. Skipping appointments could give the insurance company a reason to question how seriously you are injured.
You are certainly allowed to disagree with your treatment plan. Talk to your doctor or consider seeking a second opinion. Make sure to inform your Lafayette auto accident attorney about your intentions. This will help him or her to take necessary steps to protect the full value of your claim.
Why You Should Wait for MMI to Settle a Claim
If you need ongoing treatment, you need compensation to pay for that treatment. If the accident was caused by another’s negligence, the liable party should pay for your damages.
There is no way to know the long-term effects of your injury until a doctor determines you have reached MMI. When a doctor knows how an injury will affect you long-term, he or she can determine the treatments you may need moving forward.
Once you know the treatment you will need, your attorney can get to work determining the cost of that treatment and determine the full value of your claim. That is why you do not want to accept a settlement offer that is made before you reach MMI. The settlement offer is likely to be for far less than the full value of your claim.
Insurance companies make these offers hoping victims will accept. If they do, the insurance company saves money. It is also important to remember you cannot reopen a claim once you accept a settlement offer. This is why you need to make sure the settlement offer provides the full compensation you need.
Contact Galloway Jefcoat to Discuss Your Injury Claim
If a car crash was caused by another driver, his or her insurance company should pay for your damages. The problem is that it is difficult to get the insurance company to pay for all your damages on your own. You need experienced legal help, as research has shown, victims represented by experienced attorneys often recover more compensation than those who go it alone.
At Galloway Jefcoat, there is no risk with our services because there are no upfront fees. The initial consultation is also free, and you are not obligated to hire our firm after meeting with us. The decision is entirely up to you.
We have obtained millions on behalf of crash victims and are ready to help you.
Call Galloway Jefcoat today to learn more. (337) 984-8020