It can happen quickly; one minute you are working hard at your job, and the next moment you have become the victim of a workplace injury. Luckily, your employer is prepared to help you and get you back to work by providing you with valuable benefits. Workers' comp is available to almost all workers in all jobs, and you shouldn't have to pay a penny to get this coverage. This insurance plan will pay the cost of all of your related medical expenses and it will even pick up the tab for a certain portion of your usual salary while you stay home and recover. At some point in your recovery, however, you may face some closer scrutiny of your medical condition, so read on to learn more about what it can mean to be at maximum medical improvement with your workers' comp coverage.
A special kind of exam
When an employee gets hurt at work, there is an expectation that the worker will recover enough to return to their job. Often, the workers' comp insurance carrier sets those expectations based on past injuries and recovery times. When your injury is not healing at the expected pace, the insurance carrier may request that you undergo a special type of medical exam so that they can get a better idea of when you might return to work, if ever.
Maximum medical improvement and your benefits
After this exam, which is performed by a doctor hired by the insurance carrier, you will receive a ruling based on the status of your condition. There are three possible outcomes to this exam:
1. Your injury is healed enough that you should be able to return to your job. If you disagree with this ruling, you have the right to appeal and you may need to seek the help of a workers' comp attorney.
2. Your injury is healing, but you are not well enough to return to your job. This means that your benefits will continue for a certain period of time and you will likely face another assessment in the future.
3. Your healing is at a standstill, known in workers' comp parlance as a maximum medical improvement. This means that you very likely have a permanent injury that is not expected to undergo enough healing to allow a return to your previous position at work.
When it comes to your benefits, the ruling of maximum medical improvement will signal a change in how your benefits come to you. Instead of a portion of your salary, you may now be offered a lump sum or structured settlement. It's vital to seek the assistance of a workers' compensation attorney to help you to negotiate with the insurance carrier to get the best possible settlement amount.