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What Is Maximum Medical Improvement?

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What Is Maximum Medical Improvement?

What Is Maximum Medical Improvement?Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is the point in medical treatment where further treatment is unlikely to benefit you. In other words, you have already improved as much as you are ever going to.

Reaching MMI might mean a full recovery, or it might mean long-term or permanent disability.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that your injuries won’t require further treatment in the future. Your doctor is responsible for determining when you have reached MMI.

Why MMI Matters

Why MMI MattersWhen you file a personal injury claim, you are seeking compensation for all of your losses arising from your injuries. Normally, this includes medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other tangible and intangible losses. However, it should be noted that you cannot claim non-economic damages such as pain and suffering for a workers’ compensation claim.

It is difficult to estimate the value of your losses, especially your medical expenses, until you reach MMI. After all, if you haven’t reached MMI, how will you know how much more medical treatment you have ahead of you? For this reason, in most cases, you should wait until you reach MMI before filing a personal injury claim, either with an insurance company, a defendant, or a court.

How MMI Can Help You

Once you reach MMI, it is easier to calculate (or at least reliably estimate):

  • Your total medical bills;
  • When you can return to work,
  • How your injury will affect your future earning capacity; and
  • Whether you will need long-term treatment (kidney dialysis, for example).

An experienced personal injury lawyer should have plenty of experience estimating the future damages of a personal injury victim.

When You Shouldn’t Wait for MMI

You certainly shouldn’t wait for MMI if doing so will cause you to miss the statute of limitations deadline. You might face this dilemma if you suffer a catastrophic injury that extends your medical treatment for years.

The New York statute of limitations for personal injury set the deadline by which you must either file a lawsuit or abandon your claim. In New York, this deadline is typically three years after the date that you suffered your injury. Narrow exceptions apply in limited cases.

If You Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline

Once you miss the statute of limitations deadline, a court will immediately dismiss any lawsuit you try to file. Without the ability to file a lawsuit, you have no bargaining power. This lack of bargaining power makes it virtually impossible to reach even a private settlement. If the statute of limitations deadline is looming, file a lawsuit even if you haven’t yet reached MMI.

Calculating Long-Term Future Damages

Depending on the nature of your injuries, you might never reach MMI (even though most people do). Alternatively, you might reach MMI but suffer permanent disability. Either way, calculating your future losses will be challenging.

Why It’s So Important To Get It Right the First Time

Once you agree to a settlement, you must sign the settlement agreement, which is a binding legal contract. The settlement agreement will contain wording that forbids you from seeking further compensation for your claim, no matter what happens in the future. This wording is known as a “Release.”

Once you sign the Release and receive your money, your claim dies. You won’t be able to seek more money for the same accident, no matter how inadequate your settlement is. Estimating your future losses is something you must get right the first time.

The Use of Expert Witnesses

If you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer, they likely enjoy regular working relationships with professional expert witnesses. Some financial expert witnesses specialize in testifying on an injured victim’s estimated future medical expenses and estimated future lost earnings. Certain medical expert witnesses can testify to the amount of pain and suffering you are likely to endure in the future.

MMI in Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation claims are a whole world in themselves. You cannot file a lawsuit to resolve a workers’ compensation claim, and you cannot seek non-economic damages. On the bright side, you don’t need to prove your employer was at fault to win compensation for medical expenses and lost earnings. You can also receive benefits even if your injury was your fault (and assuming an exception doesn’t apply, such as if you were intoxicated at the time).

For a workers’ compensation claim, you usually return to work as soon as your doctor declares that you have reached MMI. If you cannot return to work even after reaching MMI, you might qualify for permanent or long-term disability.

Once you reach MMI (but still suffer from occupational disability), you can forego periodic disability payments and ask for a lump sum instead. In this case, just as in a personal injury lawsuit, you must be sure you are asking for enough money.

Hire an Experienced New York City Personal Injury Lawyer

If your claim is sizable, you could lose more than you gain by trying to represent yourself. Insurance company executives, for example, love unrepresented personal injury victims because it is easy to get away with paying far less than their claim is worth.

Don’t let this happen to you. A sufficiently skilled and experienced New York City personal injury lawyer knows all the negotiating tricks opposing parties like to play, and they won’t fall for a single one of them.

The Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers can help prepare a claim on your behalf while you focus on your recovery. Contact or call us today at (212) 564-2800 to discuss your nerve damage and the compensation you can seek for it.

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