As insurance coverage goes, workers' compensation appears to be a bargain. Employers and not the employees pay the premiums for workers' comp coverage. When a worker is hurt or afflicted by an occupational illness, the benefits kick in. Unfortunately, not all workers recover from injuries and return to their jobs. Read on to find out what might happen if a ruling of maximum medical improvement (MMI) happens to a hurt worker.
Injuries That Don't Heal
If the injury directly affects your ability to do your job, you may be able to recuperate at home. At some point, though, a decision about your job status needs to be made. After a worker has not been given the go-ahead to return to work by their doctor and some time has passed, the worker must undergo a special medical exam to determine what's going on with the injury. This exam is performed by a doctor hired by the workers' compensation insurance carrier. In some cases, the worker is told they must return to work, and in some cases, a determination is made to give the worker more time to recuperate. The third scenario is one of maximum medical improvement or MMI.
What Is a Ruling of MMI?
This term is used in both workers' compensation cases and personal injury cases. It means that the injury is at a standstill and not expected to change much in the future. A hurt worker ruled to be at MMI may be eligible for a lump-sum payment. This evaluation is important because it allows insurers to estimate future needs in terms of medical care and in terms of the level of disability.
This ruling can be a good thing since you can gain benefits, but it might also come as a shock to a worker who wants to return to work and earn money. This ruling carries with it an array of confusing and complex issues. For example, the amount of the lump-sum can vary and is negotiable. Also, the terms for paying out the settlement vary from a lump-sum to a structured payment plan. To complicate matters further, some workers are not 100% disabled. You can, for example, be 65% disabled. Finally, you might be entitled to rehabilitation training, other employment, and Social Security benefits. Any government benefits need to coordinate with the workers' comp settlement.
Instead of trying to figure all of the above out on your own, speak to workers' comp attorney. They can help you with MMI rulings you disagree with, settlement negotiations, structured payments, and more.