The concept of “maximum medical improvement” is one of the most important concepts in South Carolina workers’ compensation claims. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act requires that an injured worker be at “maximum medical improvement” (also called MMI) before the case can be settled or a final determination can be made to close the case. Further, an injured worker is entitled to medical care from the employer at least until maximum medical improvement.
So what is maximum medical improvement?
The phrase “maximum medical improvement” has both legal and medical implications. Medically, maximum medical improvement means that you have reached a plateau in your treatment. It does not mean that you are all better, it simply means that the doctor feels you are as good as you are going to get.
However, the fact an injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement does not preclude a finding the claimant may still require additional medical care or treatment. If additional medical care or treatment would tend to lessen the period of disability, then the employer may be required to provide treatment that would at least maintain the injured worker’s degree of physical impairment after an injured worker has reached MMI.
Legally, once the physicians and/or the Commission agree the injured worker has reached MMI, the next step is to determine if and to what degree there is any permanent disability. The date of maximum medical improvement signals the end of entitlement to temporary total disability benefits payments and the beginning of entitlement to permanent total disability benefit payments. Once you have reached MMI, the doctor will then assign you an impairment rating. This impairment rating is one of the factors used to determine your final award of workers’ compensation benefits.
What is you don’t agree that you are at maximum medical improvement?
The South Carolina Workers Compensation Act allows for an injured worker to ask for a second opinion if they do not agree with their authorized treating physician’s opinion on treatment. Many times we have represented individuals who come to us originally because shortly after their injury the doctor chosen by their employer has stated they have reached MMI and released them from care. We have gotten those workers second opinions. Many times these second opinions recommend different treatment options or diagnoses. Our first goal in any workers’ compensation cases is to make sure our clients get all the medical care they are entitled to so that, hopefully, they can get back to work and back to their life.
If you have any questions about reaching maximum medical improvement, your impairment rating, and its effect on your disability award under South Carolina Workers’ Compensation laws, please contact Venus Poe law firm today at (864) 963-0310 or click here to fill out an online case evaluation form. The correct determination of MMI and your impairment rating is very important to obtaining the compensation you are entitled to under the law. There is no obligation or charge to see if we can help you with your workers’ compensation claim.