Our South Carolina workers compensation attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson often get calls from individuals asking about Maximum Medical Improvement, and the impact it has on their case. Maximum Medical Improvement (or MMI) is a commonly use phrase in workers’ compensation cases in South Carolina. What does it mean when your doctor says you have reached MMI? How does this affect your workers’ compensation case?
In South Carolina Workers’ Compensation cases, maximum medical improvement is defined as “a term used to indicate that a person has reached such a plateau that in the physician’s opinion there is no further medical care or treatment which will lessen the degree of impairment.[i]” The American Medical Association defines maximum medical improvement as “a condition or stat that is well stabilized and unlikely to change substantially in the next year, with or without medical treatment.[ii]” In layman’s terms, MMI is the point in time where your doctor feels that you are as healed as they believe you will get.
It is important to understand that reaching maximum medical improvement is a critical point in a South Carolina workers’ compensation case. MMI is generally the point in time where the treating doctor releases the worker from his or her care, issues an impairment rating for any permanent disability as a result of the on the job injury, issues permanent restrictions for future work, and details any future medical treatment the worker will need. Insurance companies will often try and close the worker’s claim at this time.
Maximum medical improvement does not necessarily mean that the injured workers’ case is over. Reaching maximum medical improvement for one injury does not necessarily mean that the worker cannot continue treating for other injuries from the accident. MMI might also be the time that the worker seeks a second opinion.
It is the job of our South Carolina workers’ comp lawyers to discuss with our client’s their options when they reach maximum medical improvement. MMI can be the point in time when the claim is ready to be resolved and compensation paid. MMI can also be the point in time when I push for additional medical care and treatment. It is critical that when a worker is placed at maximum medical improvement for their work injuries that they find out their rights and discuss the ramifications of MMI with a lawyer that practices workers’ compensation in South Carolina.
If you are having problems with your South Carolina Workers’ Compensation case, if you have questions about what benefits you are entitled to, if you’ve been placed at maximum medical improvement by your doctor, or simply need to find out if you have a case, call Grimes Teich Anderson at 864-421-0770 or contact us over the internet at www.gta-injurylaw.com. Initial injury consultations are free; it won’t cost you anything to speak with us. We have three convenient office locations in the Upstate of South Carolina: Greenville, Spartanburg, and Gaffney. At Grimes Teich Anderson we are committed to protecting the rights of hard working South Carolinians.
 O’Banner v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 319 S.C. 24, 28, 459 S.E.2d 324, 327 (Ct. App. 1995)
 Cocchiarella, L., Andersson, G., & American Medical Association. (2001). Guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment. Chicago: American Medical Association.
[i] O’Banner v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 319 S.C. 24, 28, 459 S.E.2d 324, 327 (Ct. App. 1995)
[ii] Cocchiarella, L., Andersson, G., & American Medical Association. (2001). Guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment. Chicago: American Medical Association.