Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) and MN Work Comp: A Double-Edged Sword

If you’re an injured worker in Minnesota, at some point in time, you will probably be sent a letter from the workers’ compensation insurance company notifying you that you’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). On the upside, Maximum Medical Improvement often means you may qualify for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits. On the downside, it means the insurer can stop paying you temporary total disability benefits (TTD) even if you are not fully recovered or back to work.

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is an important concept in Minnesota workers’ compensation law. It is the date after which “no further significant recovery from or significant lasting improvement to a personal injury can reasonably be anticipated, based upon reasonable medical probability, irrespective and regardless of subjective complaints of pain.” In plain language, it essentially means that from an objective perspective, your condition has improved as much as it is going to. It doesn’t mean that you’re healed. It doesn’t mean that you’re not entitled to additional medical care. It doesn’t mean that your case is over. And it doesn’t mean that you’re no longer suffering from the effects of your injury.

What it does mean, however, is that the workers’ compensation insurance company will stop you temporary total disability (TTD) benefits 90 days after sending you notice of reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), regardless of whether you’ve fully recovered from your injuries, and regardless of whether you’ve found a new job.

Often, the insurance company secures an MMI determination by sending you to attend an Independent Medical Examination (IME).

This is one of the hardest concepts for my clients to deal with. If you lost your job because of your injury, and you have yet to find a new job, if you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), the insurance company will discontinue temporary total disability benefits.

The upside is that if you’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), it is appropriate for your doctor to make a determination as to any permanent impairment you’ve sustained, which may entitle you to Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits.

The other good news is that if you believe that you have not in fact reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), in many circumstances, we can dispute that determination. For example, if the MMI determination was issued by an IME doctor, and your doctor disagrees, you may not actually be at Maximum Medical Improvement. Or, if your doctor has recommended additional diagnostic testing, surgery, or other treatment, you may not have reached Maximum Medical Improvement yet.

Workers’ compensation insurance companies often seek a pre-mature determination of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) to try to limit their potential liability for ongoing temporary total disability (TTD) benefits.

If you’ve sustained a Minnesota work-related injury, the workers’ compensation insurance company will almost invariably try to discontinue your benefits prematurely. Unfortunately, injured workers are a liability in the eyes of the insurance company, and they will often go to surprising means to keep their costs as low as possible, regardless of what is right or fair.

For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your workers’ compensation rights, call us at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email to speak with one of our Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyers.

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