Maximum Medical Improvement
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is a key term in Maryland workers’ compensation.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
The concept, in layman’s terms, is pretty easy to understand. You aren’t going to get any better than you are, anytime soon, despite any treatment available. Said another way, the healing is done. Still another, it’s as good as it’s going to get.
But you know lawyers – they can’t help but lawyerize everything. Because of how important the concept of MMI is in personal injury law and especially comp, the definition actually come from caselaw. The Court system, in essence, defined MMI. In some states, the definition of maximum medical improvement is actually written into the laws. In Maryland, it’s from a case.
Maryland’s Definition of Maximum Medical Improvement: “Maximum medical improvement” is the stage at which workers’ compensation claimants have ‘reached a point of stability in their disease and they have benefitted maximally from their interventional medical care.’” Sears, Roebuck v. Ralph, 340 Md. 304 (1995), also quoting Alexander v. Montgomery County, 87 Md.App. 275 (1991). Maryland’s Court of Appeals
So you answer the question: How do I know I’m at MMI within the framework of that definition.
What Maximum Medical Improvement Means for Your Case
You can get temporary total disability benefits when not at MMI, you can’t after that. (That’s a huge oversimplification, and just because you are treating doesn’t mean you entitled to TTD – you may well be able to work.) But if the comp injury is bad enough to warrant TTD, you are typically only going to get that until you reach MMI.
Just because you are at MMI doesn’t mean you have been made whole. That’s the point of permanent partial disability benefits. You generally cannot get PPD benefits until you have reached MMI.
The finding of MMI is relevant to your medical benefits as well. If you are not at MMI and still progressing, your medical benefits will still be covered, assuming they are causally related to the workers’ comp injury. Once you reach MMI, there are no more medical benefits, unless that treatment is necessary to sustain MMI.
Again, PPD benefits typically don’t come until MMI. This means, the vast majority of the permanent compensation to the injured worker doesn’t happen until MMI – at the “end” of a case.
Workers’ compensation attorneys in MD do not get paid the bulk of their attorneys fees until maximum medical improvement happens. The employer/insurer typically sees a vast reduction in what is owed to you once MMI is reached. Therefore, once MMI becomes even a possibility, there will likely be a lot of pressure to get to that finish line. It’s important to determine what you and your doctor believe. Sometimes, you need to fight not to be at MMI. This might mean a hearing before the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. Sometimes it means speaking to a new workers’ compensation attorney who is willing to fight for you.