It can be difficult for people who have been injured in an accident to know when it is appropriate to settle their personal injury claim with an insurance company. It is crucial that people not settle their cases too soon. Although the length of time for personal injury cases will vary depending on the circumstances, accident victims should reach what is called Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) before settling their cases.
The definition of MMI is the point at which an injured worker's medical condition has stabilized and further functional improvement is unlikely, despite continued medical treatment or physical rehabilitation. Essentially, MMI is a plateau in which additional medical treatment will likely not provide any perceptible improvement.
The Importance of Medical Treatment
For those who are injured in a car accident, getting medical treatment that can be documented is arguably one of the most important elements of their personal injury claim. It provides evidence that a person has been injured and required medical treatment for those injuries. Without it, the victim will probably have a difficult time making a personal injury claim with an insurance company. Without documentation of the injury and subsequent medical treatment, the insurance company may not take the claim seriously or offer fair compensation.
The medical records of the treatment help to ensure that an attorney can clearly demonstrate any differences in a person’s health since the accident.
What it Means to Have Maximum Medical Improvement
After getting medical treatment for injuries suffered in an accident, people want to return to a state of wholeness. Wholeness refers to both the physical and mental health of the victim, and returning both to the state that victim was at before the accident happened.
Reaching MMI after being injured in a car accident means that either full recovery has been reached or the fullest recovery possible has been reached based on a doctor’s professional option, and there is no expectation of further improvement. When a person reaches MMI without being made whole again, this can mean he or she is entitled to more damages. If damages are agreed on before an accident victim reaches MMI, it’s tough to determine an appropriate payout because the potential for additional treatment is unknown. Settling a case before reaching MMI might mean losing out on damages to which victims are entitled and may need in the future.
The length of time it takes to reach MMI varies from person to person and is usually dictated by the severity of the injuries. The worse the injury, the longer it will likely take to reach MMI. In some cases, the accident victim will never be able to make a full recovery.
When a medical professional deems that an accident victim has reached MMI, a physician will likely recommend a Functional Capacity Evaluation to determine if or how well he or she can perform work-related activities. The evaluation compares the victim’s health status and body functionality to the demands of the job. The cognitive demands of the job are also tested, which is crucial if the victim suffered a head injury as a result of the accident.
Why Hiring an Attorney Can Help
It can be difficult for the average person to identify and prove MMI after a car accident. Navigating the personal injury claims process without an experienced attorney can be challenging. Many victims end up making costly mistakes. Hiring an attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury claims can protect an accident victim’s interests and ensure he or she gets the maximum amount of damages.
Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how we can help you negotiate a fair car crash settlement. We can help ensure that you have reached MMI so you avoid settling your claim too early. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no up-front cost to you.