Workers’ compensation temporary benefits are paid until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI). The worker is then evaluated to determine his/her permanent disability and his/her impairment rating. If you’ve suffered any workplace injury or illness, call Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in Wilmington, Newark, or Seaford today to speak with a premier Delaware workers’ compensation attorney.
Workers who are injured due to a workplace accident or an occupational illness have the right to see physicians and other health care providers to get as healthy as possible. The ideal is that the worker’s injuries are treated so that, when the injuries heal and the treatments are followed, the worker will be able to return to work – with or without job restrictions.
During the time the worker is receiving treatments and can’t work – the worker is entitled to temporary disability benefits. Temporary disability benefits include payment of all necessary medical bills including surgeries, doctor visits, therapy visits, medications, and medical devices.
When there are no further surgeries or treatments that are reasonably expected to improve the worker’s health, the worker has reached the point of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI doesn’t mean treatments should stop. Medical care may be needed to ensure the workers’ condition doesn’t worsen. However, MMI is a key stage in the workers’ compensation case. MMI is the point when the temporary disability ends and the worker either returns to work – with or without restrictions – or seeks to be classified as permanently disabled.
Who decides when an employee has reached MMI?
Generally, the worker treats with physicians who are selected by the employer. These doctors are usually encouraged by the employer to state that you are ready to return to work – sometimes before you are ready.
Workers who aren’t ready to return to work, and who think additional medical care is required, do have the right to request an independent medical examination so that another doctor can give input as to whether you’ve reached MMI. Some workers, with the help of counsel, do switch from the company doctors to their own doctors before they’ve reached MMI. If you’ve switched doctors, then your employer may ask for the independent medical exam.
If a decision can’t be agreed on as to whether the worker has reached MMI, then a hearing may be required to determine your health status.
What are impairment ratings and permanent disability classifications?
An impairment rating, also called a permanent partial disability rating, is a review of the seriousness of a permanent disability. The physicians who review your health records and injuries will determine:
- If you have a permanent disability, such as the loss of a finger or loss of hearing
- The degree of your loss, which is the impairment rating
Based on the type of permanent disability you have and the degree of impairment, you should be eligible for additional benefits. These benefits are usually 2/3 of your average weekly wages for a specific number of weeks (such as 160 weeks for the loss of a foot).
Many of our clients, when they’ve reached MMI, seek to settle their case in the form of a lump sum payment instead of weekly payouts.
At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our premier Delaware car and truck accident lawyers work aggressively to hold drivers liable for crashes they cause due to drunk driving, during under the influence of drugs, speeding, and any traffic violation. We regularly file claims against both the drivers of the vehicles and the owners. Other defendants such as trucking brokers may also be liable. For help with any car or truck accident, please call us at 302.314.2319 or fill out our contact form to discuss your safety concerns with our offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Friedman joined Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in 2001. He graduated from Widener University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and in several Federal Circuit courts. He areas of concentration include auto accident and workers’ compensation cases. Read more about Attorney Friedman here.