After a car accident, injured victims begin a long road to recovery. In many cases, their recovery progress hits a plateau, and they never recover any further.
When a car accident victim is no longer improving or responding to treatment, they have hit what is known as their maximum medical improvement (MMI). A person’s MMI can be hard to predict in a car accident claim, and MMI will vary across car accident cases. Your MMI is not a legal calculation but a medical one, and you must consult with your doctor about whether you can expect to improve further. For those whose MMI is below where they were before the accident, future medical expenses and damages related to permanent disabilities or disfigurements are now likely on the table. It takes time to assess someone’s MMI, and it sometimes makes sense to wait to file a lawsuit until maximum medical improvement can be determined or reached.
If you were hurt in a car accident, our Indiana car accident lawyers can help you file a claim for damages. For a free case assessment, call Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166.
A person’s MMI after a car accident may be difficult to determine and is unique to their situation. After a car accident, doctors might not know if the injured victim will fully recover, and they must wait and see how the victim responds to treatment. Eventually, the injured victim will stop responding to treatment, and their condition will stabilize.
At this point, the patient is said to have reached their MMI. For some, this is the same level of health they knew before their accident, and they have “fully recovered.” For others, their MMI is below their previous state of health, and they must adapt to a new life with permanent injuries, disabilities, or other medical conditions. Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers can help you recover damages for your injuries, permanent and otherwise.
You can compare your level of MMI as a percentage of your maximum level of health before the accident. Some people recover to 100%, while others might be at only 40% or 50%. Your MMI is effectively your new 100%.
A person’s MMI after a car accident largely depends on how they were injured and the severity of their injuries. Some people are so badly injured that doctors can tell right away they will never fully recover, and their MMI may be low. Others are on the borderline between a full recovery and permanent disability, and they must wait and see how they respond to treatment before an MMI is determined.
Your doctor determines your MMI. It is an assessment of your overall health and response to medical treatment, and the only person qualified to determine your MMI is a physician or other medical professional. Exactly how your MMI is determined is based on your injuries and the type of treatment you receive.
Your MMI will likely be assessed over time. Doctors usually like to see how patients respond to treatment before deciding they have reached MMI. In some cases, this period of time might be relatively short, perhaps only a few weeks. In other cases, it might take months before your doctor determines that you have reached MMI. This is especially true when recovery is expected to be slow.
Your MMI is also determined by your state of health before your accident. If you were not in good health before the accident, your MMI would not be expected to surpass that. For example, a person whose maximum health level is at about 70% of the average person before a car accident because of a preexisting disability will be considered “fully recovered” if their health returns to 70% of the average after the accident.
MMI plays an important role in your car accident claim because it affects what kinds of damages you can recover. When a person has a lower MMI after an accident, they can usually expect to encounter future medical expenses related to their permanent or long-term injuries. As such, they could be entitled to recover damages for these expenses. Our Fort Wayne car accident attorneys can help you assess your current and possible future damages.
Even if you do not have future medical expenses, you might still recover additional damages for your permanent injuries because your level of MMI is below your previous health level. For example, suppose a plaintiff lost their right arm in a car accident. Their wound will eventually heal over, and they will no longer need medical treatment for the wound, but the loss of a limb is permanent. The plaintiff must live with this forever, leading to additional damages related to physical pain, discomfort, and emotional trauma rather than actual medical costs. These injuries could also require damages for medical devices like crutches or prosthetics even if additional medical treatment is not needed and the injury cannot “improve” any further.
Since your level of MMI cannot be determined overnight, you might consider waiting to file your lawsuit or insurance claim until you fully understand your level of MMI. Whether or not you should wait depends on your unique circumstances, and you can discuss your options with our Indiana car accident attorneys.
If your injuries are significant and your doctor is unsure whether you will make a full recovery, you might want to wait to pursue any legal action. Severe injuries often lead to significant damages, and you cannot prove your future damages for medical care if you do not know how far along in your recovery you are now. Knowing your MMI in such a case can help maximize your damages at the beginning of your lawsuit. You would also avoid losing out on damages you did not know you could claim because you did not yet know about your MMI.
If your injuries are expected to heal fully, and you are making good progress, you might not need to wait. In that case, our Indiana car accident attorneys might clearly know your damages and can begin filing a lawsuit or insurance claim almost immediately.
Before deciding whether to wait, you should speak to your attorney and doctor. Your doctor can tell you how long it might take to determine your MMI or if your MMI is even an issue. Your attorney can advise you of the pros and cons of waiting to take legal action.
If you were in a car accident and fear you might never fully recover, our South Bend car accident attorneys can help you recover damages for your permanent injuries or disabilities. For a free case evaluation, call Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.