How Does Maximum Medical Improvement Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

Unfortunately, there are many accident victims who never completely recover from their injuries. Instead, they come to a point in their recovery process where ongoing medical treatment is not likely to improve their condition. For instance, a victim might only be 75% as able-bodied as they were before their accident and that total is unlikely to advance, regardless of any additional medical treatments they receive. Personal injury lawyers do not typically begin negotiating settlements until victims attain maximum medical improvement. This allows them to properly calculate the victim’s current damages and anticipate any future treatment needs they may have. The Hampton personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can evaluate your claim and help determine what it is worth. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.

What is Maximum Medical Improvement?

The phrase “maximum medical improvement” has two different meanings. For victims who sustained severe injuries, it likely means they have received all viable medical treatment options, have physically recovered as much as they are going to, and will probably have ongoing issues related to their injury for the rest of their lives. Reaching maximum medical improvement can also mean that, after undergoing medical treatment, a victim has successfully and fully recovered from their injuries.   

Who Determines When Maximum Medical Improvement Has Been Reached?

Your treating physician is usually the only person who can accurately determine whether or not you have reached maximum medical improvement. It is, however, important to remember that you are entitled to seek a second opinion on your injuries and what medical treatments are recommended. 

If the insurer disagrees with your doctor about your achieving MMI, they might request that you undergo an Independent Medical Exam, meaning they will hire a doctor of their choosing to assess your injuries and decide if they are permanent or you are completely recovered.

How Does MMI Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

Most accident victims pursuing financial compensation are dealing with more than the physical and emotional repercussions of their injury, they are also facing an enormous amount of economic stress. Medical bills and other expenses arising from their accident can add up quickly. For victims who are unable to work due to their injuries, this is especially true.

Trying to stay on top of your finances, including your accident-related damages, while you are not able to go to work can be overwhelming. Many personal injury victims in this situation are tempted to agree to an early settlement, even if it is less than their claim is worth. However, waiting until you reach MMI is important for two reasons: 

Accurately Valuing Your Claim

In order to correctly determine the full value of your claim, your Hampton personal injury lawyer needs as much information as possible. The best, and only, way for them to do this is to wait until your doctor says you have reached maximum medical improvement. This will also allow them to determine what ongoing care you may need and other costs you are anticipating, including: 

Along with any recurring costs, your lawyer also needs to accurately determine your projected medical expenses. For example, you might require modifications to your home to make it more accessible and your life a little easier. Until your doctor gives you a long-term prognosis, it is difficult, if not impossible, to calculate these figures.  

Additional Compensation is Not Possible 

Once you sign a settlement agreement with the insurer, you cannot revisit the well. You will not be able to file another claim seeking further compensation, even if new complications or expenses suddenly arise.  

For example, if you agree to a settlement and then find out that you need more costly medical treatments or another operation, you will not receive any additional compensation from the insurance company. By waiting until you have reached MMI before accepting a settlement offer, you can ensure that 100% of your current and anticipated damages are included in your final compensation award.  

Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The experienced Hampton personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been helping victims of personal injury accidents pursue full and fair financial compensation for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence since 1985, such as the $3.5 million wrongful death settlement we secured for the family of a man who was killed by a negligent truck driver. 

If you have a potential claim that you would like to discuss with one of our skilled lawyers and learn what legal options are available to you, you can schedule a free case review by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out our quick contact form. Our offices are located in Hampton, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk.