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Why Impairment Ratings And MMI Are Important In Your Injury Case


Many people after an accident, as they treat with their doctors, may eventually realize that they fully heal. That is, of course, the hope for all accident victims. But others will not fully heal. They will usually improve, slowly over time…and then, the improvement stops. It seems like they have gotten as healed and healthy as they are going to get.

That’s not in your head, or your imagination. There is an actual medical term for that. It’s called maximum medical improvement, or MMI. And in the world of personal injury cases, it has significant legal and medical meaning.

Getting to MMI

After your accident, your doctor will treat you, with the goal of treatment being to help you improve. But often, the improvement stops. You are no longer getting better or making progress, as the treatments continue.

The doctor may still see you and still treat you, but the treatment often becomes more about maintenance and adaptation to the pain or disability, more so than actively seeking meaningful improvement in your pain or in your condition.

At the point that your doctor feels that no more medical improvement can reasonably be anticipated, your doctor will declare you to be at MMI. Needless to say, to declare you to be at MMI, the doctor must be able to see you; victims who just stop going to their treating doctors won’t get an MMI.

Time to MMI

How long it takes to get to MMI varies from person to person; one person’s physiological makeup may mean they take longer to get to MMI than someone else, and of course, the nature, type or severity of the injuries may also affect how long it takes to get to MMI.

Impairment Ratings and Percentages

When you reach MMI, your doctor will give you what is known as an “impairment rating.” This is a rating stated in terms of the percentage of your body which is disabled because of your (now determined to be somewhat) permanent disabilities or injuries.

Someone with a very slight pain that causes minimal discomfort, may have a low impairment rating—perhaps under 10%. Someone who has lost a leg may have a much higher impairment rating.

The percentage is not scientific, and can be subjective as it is the doctor’s opinion of the disability to your overall body functions.

Additionally, the numeric percentage is not determinative of the extent of your actual damages, or the effect the injuries have had on your life.

For example, someone who has a little pain in their pinky joint may have a 1-2% overall disability—a very small, almost insignificant amount. But if that person made his or her living as a concert pianist, that small disability would not tell the whole story, as the pain in the pianist’s pinky could be enough to severely prohibit him or her from making a living.

We can help you understand every step of your personal injury case. Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today.




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