What is Maximum Medical Improvement?

By Joseph M. Wilson, Jr., Attorney at Law

If you have ever been injured and gone through rehabilitation, you have likely heard the term Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). This phrase is doctor-speak that means, “this is as good as it gets;” you have reached the point where the doctor does not expect you to improve any more, even if you continue with treatments.

If you are back to 100%, then MMI simply means the doctor has released you to return to work with no restrictions. You can move on with your life and no further therapy is required. If, however, you are partially or fully disabled after reaching MMI, you probably want to understand your options.

Under the Workers’ Compensation statutes in North Carolina, reaching MMI creates a milestone in your case. If you have fully healed, then MMI marks the date that weekly payments stop and you go back to work. If you are not fully healed, then MMI marks the opening of settlement discussions. If all parties agree that you are fully disabled and will be unable to return to work, the statutes provide for 2/3 of your Average Weekly Wage for the rest of your lifetime. If, however, the disability is partial – meaning you are able to work but you are unable to return to your old job – coming up with a settlement amount may become complex. The NC Workers’ Compensation laws do allow for settlements to be negotiated between the parties provided those settlements are in line with the law. Settlements should take into account medical care to date, as well as any future care anticipated from the injury (reaching MMI doesn’t mean you will not need future medical care for this injury), the future value of wages, etc.

For many injured workers, reaching MMI means they are back on track. If your work-related injury resulted in partial or full disability and you have not already spoken to a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation attorney, you should do so today to learn your rights.

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