If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation. After the accident, you may be anxious to get your case over with and settled so that you have the money to pay your medical expenses and bills and continue with your life.
However, you should not accept any settlement until you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI). This can be an important milestone for car accident victims, as it can help you understand the full extent of your injuries which you and your car accident attorney could use to recover all the compensation you deserve.
If you have any questions about MMI or your car accident case, contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. today.
What Is Maximum Medical Improvement?
MMI is the point in your medical treatment where you have either fully recovered from your injuries or recovered as much as you can. If you suffered severe injuries that resulted in a permanent disability, you would have reached maximum medical improvement when you have improved as much as possible. Your doctor can give you a final prognosis regarding your anticipated future medical needs.
MMI is commonly thought of when an injured worker files a workers’ compensation claim. However, it is just as important in car accident cases.
In workers’ compensation cases, the insurance company will often try to settle a case before injured workers reach MMI. This is because they know that once the injured worker’s healing process is complete, the value of their claim will likely go up, and they will have to pay out more money to cover the workers’ medical benefits.
The same is true in car accident cases. The insurance company may try to settle your case before you reach MMI because they do not want to have to pay for your future medical expenses.
Reaching MMI Does Not Mean You Have Fully Recovered
It is important to understand that reaching MMI does not mean that you have fully recovered from your injuries. You may still have some pain, limited mobility, or other symptoms.
For example, if you suffered a broken leg in the accident and had to undergo surgery to have a metal rod inserted, MMI would be reached once you had fully healed and the doctor determined that the rod was doing its job of supporting your leg.
You may still have some pain or discomfort and may not be able to return to running or other high-impact activities, but further treatment will not improve your condition. This is an important distinction, as it can greatly impact the value of your case.
Why You Should Wait to Reach MMI
In cases where you have suffered a long-term injury, it could take months or longer to reach maximum medical improvement. This usually means your medical bills are piling up, and you are anxious to get the case settled.
Under these circumstances, it’s easy to accept the first offer that comes from the insurance carrier. However, we do not recommend our clients take the first offer as it usually costs them more money in the long run.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we understand the financial pressure that clients are under because of rising medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. This is why we are here to help you get the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.
MMI Impacts the Value of Your Claim
The value of your claim will be based on many factors, including the severity of your injuries, the amount of medical treatment you have received, the expected cost of future medical treatment, and whether or not you have reached MMI.
If you have already reached MMI, the insurance company will have to consider your current condition when making their settlement offer. This can often result in a much higher settlement offer, as they will no longer be able to argue that you have not yet reached your full potential for recovery.
On the other hand, if you have not yet reached MMI, the insurance company may lowball you on their settlement offer, as they will argue that you have not yet reached your full potential for recovery.
You Cannot Reopen Your Claim Once You Settle
It is also important to wait to settle your case or file a lawsuit because, once you do so, you will not be able to reopen your claim if you later find out that your injuries are more serious than you initially thought.
For example, if you settle your case before reaching MMI and later find out that you need surgery or other expensive medical treatment, you will not be able to go back and ask the insurance company for more money.
This is why reaching MMI before settling your case or filing a lawsuit is important. Once you have reached your MMI, you will have a much better understanding of the extent of your injuries and the value of your claim.
How Long Does It Take to Reach MMI?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. It depends on your doctor’s opinion, the severity of your injuries, and the amount of treatment you have received.
Some people reach their MMI within a few months, while others may take a year or more. It is important to consult with your doctor and get their opinion on when you will likely reach your MMI.
Can I Get Disability Benefits in a Car Accident Claim?
While you cannot pursue disability benefits in your claim, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if your injuries prevent you from working.
These benefits can help replace a portion of your lost wages and help you cover your living expenses. It is important to note that strict guidelines and medical requirements exist to be eligible for these benefits.
Independent Medical Examinations and Car Accident Claims
If you have been in a car accident, you may be required to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME). An IME is when a doctor chosen by the insurance company evaluates your injuries and determines whether or not they are related to the car accident. This may be necessary if:
- You file a personal injury lawsuit. The defendant may use an IME to gather information for their expert medical witness. The witness may testify at trial that your medical condition isn’t as bad as you claim or wasn’t caused by the accident. Depending on the situation, you and your lawyer may argue that the IME isn’t necessary, and you may be able to avoid the IME in litigation.
- You may have to submit an IME if you file a claim under your no-fault car insurance (also known as personal injury protection, or PIP). Your policy may include a provision requiring you to submit an IME as part of a claim. If you refuse the exam, your car insurance company may deny the claim on the basis that you have failed to cooperate with the company’s investigation into your injuries. If you’re unsure whether you should submit an IME claim, consult with an attorney.
What If I Disagree With the Doctor’s Assessment?
If you disagree with your doctor’s assessment of your injuries, you may be able to get a second opinion. However, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before making any decisions about your case.
If You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident, Contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. Today
If you are looking for the highest level of representation available for your personal injury case, turn to Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. Our firm has helped clients recover more than $500 million in compensation, and we have more than 100 years of combined experience. All of our partners are recognized by Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers®, and our firm includes three past presidents of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
We work to help our clients obtain fair settlement offers to compensate them for the injuries they’ve suffered, but our attorneys are extremely well-equipped to go to trial if needed. Call (202) 659-8600 or contact us online to get the proven legal representation you deserve.