When employees are injured at work, they can file Workers’ Compensation claims to get the money they need while unable to return to their jobs. Eventually, injured workers reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), and their benefits might change.
Maximum medical improvement is the point at which an injured worker’s injuries will no longer improve through medical treatment. To put it more plainly, a person reaches MMI when their injuries are as good as they will get. A doctor must determine whether a patient has reached MMI, and MMI is often assessed over time. You may continue to receive certain Workers’ Compensation benefits after reaching MMI, but many injured workers find their benefits change somewhat. You might no longer receive coverage for medical treatment, but you should still receive appropriate benefits if you cannot return to work.
Determining MMI is not easy and might be emotionally difficult for those who cannot expect to recover fully. Our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation attorneys will fight so you can continue receiving benefits as long as you need them. Call (479) 316-0438 for a free initial case assessment.
How is Maximum Medical Improvement Determined in Aransas Workers’ Compensation Cases?
When a person is injured, they should receive medical treatment to help their injuries heal and recover. At some point, a person’s injuries have recovered as much as they possibly can and will no longer respond to medical treatment. This point is known as maximum medical improvement. While the ideal MMI involves a “full recovery,” this is unfortunately not always the case. Some people’s injuries never fully heal, and they might be left with permanent injuries or disabilities.
MMI is an important factor in Workers’ Compensation cases as it is often used to determine whether an injured employee needs further medical coverage or benefits for lost wages. Since MMI is a purely medical determination, your doctor must be the one to determine when you have reached MMI.
How and when your doctor determines you have reached MMI depends on the extent of your injuries. In some cases, a doctor might know right away that a person’s injuries will never fully recover. Unfortunately, some workplace injuries are so severe that a full recovery is not realistic. In other cases, a doctor will monitor their patient’s injuries over time and wait to see when the patient’s injuries stop responding to medical treatment.
Even if your doctor believes immediately that you are expected to make a full recovery or that you will never fully recover, they cannot be completely certain until you reach MMI. Our Bella Vista Workers’ Compensation lawyers will help you apply for benefits and medical coverage while you heal.
How Maximum Medical Improvement Estimates Affect Workers’ Compensation Claims
Generally, when an injured worker in Arkansas files a Workers’ Compensation claim, they can receive benefits to make up for a portion of their lost wages for as long as the healing period lasts. The healing period is defined under Arkansas Code § 11-9-102(12) as the time for healing of an injury sustained in an accident. The healing period may last for a long time in cases of serious injuries, but a claimant cannot collect benefits for more than 450 weeks under Arkansas Code § 11-9-502(a).
Once you have reached MMI, the healing period is considered over, and your benefits may be reassessed. If you have made a full recovery, your benefits will likely end as you should be able to return to work and no longer need coverage for medical treatment. You might be assessed for a disability if you have not fully recovered.
People whose MMI is not 100% might be considered to have a disability. If you can never get back to 100%, your disability is considered permanent, and you should continue to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. Under Arkansas Code § 11-9-519(e)(1), a permanent total disability involves an inability to earn meaningful wages in the same job or a different one because of your injuries. In such a case, our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation lawyers will help you fight to keep receiving benefits for as long as you can. You may also qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, which our attorneys can also help you apply for.
How Much Workers’ Compensation Can I Receive After Reaching MMI in Arkansas?
How much money you can continue to receive in Workers’ Compensation benefits after reaching MMI depends on your medical status at that point. As discussed earlier, some injured workers fully recover when they reach MMI, but others are not so lucky and end up with long-term injuries or disabilities. If you can still not return to work after your doctor has determined you have reached MMI, you should still be able to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits, although the amount of money you receive might change.
Under Arkansas Code § 11-9-508(a)(1), employers are responsible for covering various medical expenses associated with a worker’s injuries. This often means paying for injured employees’ medical treatment. Once a person has reached MMI, their doctor might cease treatment because the person’s injuries will no longer improve. As such, an injured worker can expect to stop having their medical bills covered by Workers’ Compensation once they reach MMI.
If your MMI involves a permanent disability that prevents you from returning to work, you can still receive Workers’ Compensation benefits for up to about 2/3 of your average weekly wages. If your disability is only partial, meaning you can return to work, but in a lesser capacity than before your injuries, you can also continue to receive benefits. After reaching MMI, you can still collect about 66% of your average weekly salary minus your new wage-earning capacity. Our Fort Smith Workers’ Compensation attorneys can help you ensure you get the maximum benefits possible for your condition.
Contact Our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Lawyers About Your Accident
Workplace injuries can be severe, and the MMI of many injured employees is not 100%. Our Bentonville Workers’ Compensation lawyers can help you continue receiving benefits even after a doctor has determined you have reached MMI. Call (479) 316-0438 for a free initial case review.