Workplace accidents can result in severe injuries, pain, and suffering. Some workers may recover within a few weeks or months after a workplace injury. However, other workers might never fully recover from their work injury.
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) refers to when you will heal from your injuries as much as possible, whether a full recovery or otherwise. MMI features prominently in workers’ compensation claims but could play a role in just about any personal injury case.
Determining maximum medical improvement (MMI) impacts when you can return to work. Reaching MMI can terminate your temporary disability benefits. Unfortunately, your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance provider may push for you to return to work before you reach MMI.
When Does a Worker Reach Maximum Medical Improvement in Louisiana?
Your doctor determines when you reach maximum medical improvement. As noted, MMI is when you have healed as much as you will heal from your injuries. The time it takes to reach MMI depends on the injuries sustained and the severity of the injuries.
Some workers make a complete recovery from their injuries. They do not have any lasting impairment or disability. They reach MMI when their doctor releases them from care.
However, some workers do not recover fully from their injuries. They develop permanent impairments and disabilities that will remain for the rest of their lives. They reach MMI when their doctor states that no further medical treatment is expected to improve their condition.
How Does Maximum Medical Improvement Impact Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Lafayette, LA?
Suppose you sustain a work injury that prevents you from working while you are receiving medical treatment. In that case, you should be entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits under Louisiana workers’ compensation law.
TTD benefits replace some of the income you lose because you cannot work. However, TTD benefits do not replace all of your lost wages.
Temporary total disability benefits are based on two-thirds of your average weekly wages. No benefits are paid for the first week after the injury unless you are out of work for two weeks or longer. The amount for TTD benefits is subject to a maximum weekly amount set by the state based on your injury date.
Some workers might be able to return to work after an injury on the job. However, their injury prevents them from earning as much as they did before the injury. In those cases, a worker can receive supplemental earning benefits.
Supplement earnings benefits are paid when you earn less than 90% of your original wages. You can receive two-thirds of the difference between what you earn now and what you earned before the injury.
Maximum medical improvement impacts your TTD benefits. If your doctor states you can return to work, your TTD benefits end.
Unfortunately, your doctor might say you can return to work but cannot perform all work duties. In that case, you could be entitled to permanent disability payments. However, your doctor must give you an impairment rating.
If you are being forced to return to work before you can perform your regular work duties, contact a Lafayette workers’ compensation lawyer. Also, if you disagree with the level of impairment the doctor assigns, contact an attorney. A lawyer can explain your legal options and work to get you the benefits you deserve after a work injury.
Maximum Medical Improvement and Impairment Ratings
Your doctor must state whether you reach MMI with or without impairments. If you did not sustain a permanent disability, you will not have an impairment rating. In these instances, your doctor believes you can return to work and perform all requirements for your job.
However, if your doctor diagnoses you with a permanent impairment, they will issue an impairment rating. Impairment ratings are based on the severity of your disability, with 100 being entirely disabled.
An impairment rating does not mean you cannot go back to work or that you cannot perform any activities to earn an income. For example, you may receive a 20% impairment rating because a back injury limits how much time you can stand, the amount you can lift, or the distance you can walk without a break. You can work, but you might need to find another job or receive accommodations at work.
Your permanent disability benefits are based on your impairment rating. Permanent total disability payments are typically paid each week. However, permanent partial disability benefits may be settled with a lump sum payment.
Even though workers’ compensation disability payments are set by law, there are ways for the employer and insurance company to undervalue claims. They might dispute that you sustained a disability or the impairment rating. A Lafayette workers’ compensation lawyer can help you fight to receive a fair workers’ comp settlement for a disability claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Lafayette Personal Injury Lawyer
Our legal team at Kenny Habetz Injury Law works to get you the best possible personal injury settlement in the quickest time possible. We work on your case while you focus on healing, so we are ready to move forward once you reach maximum medical improvement. Contact us online or call (803)-324-7574 today for a free case evaluation with an experienced Lafayette personal injury attorney.