A work injury that requires a fair amount of treatment will typically entitle
the injured worker to weekly income benefits, if disabled from work, and
also to medical benefits for treatment of the injury. Regarding medical
benefits, there are two different types of medical costs that play out
over time: upfront costs and ongoing costs. The upfront cost is what is
necessary for initial treatments, such as ambulance rides and emergency
care. The ongoing costs involve whatever follows, which could be hospitalization,
surgery, ongoing doctors’ care, physical therapy, prescription medicines, etc.
Ongoing costs are typically going to cost more than upfront costs, and
they will continue to pile up until the patient reaches maximum medical
improvement (MMI). In straightforward terms, a patient’s MMI is
the point at which it is believed that no amount of medicine or treatment
will allow them to heal further from their injuries. Ideally, MMI will
be the same as total recovery, but that is not always the case. Some people
may reach MMI and still suffer the effects and debilitations of their
injury, such as in the event of a back or neck surgery, where the patient
will typically be left with some degree of permanent physical restrictions.
MMI & Workers’ Compensation
When at the beginning of a
workers’ compensation claim, it can be difficult to know how long medical and income benefits
will continue. A patient’s MMI at such an early stage might be far
into the future. While some states limit or terminate income benefits
or medical treatment when the injured worker reaches MMI, in Georgia it
is possible to receive workers’ comp benefits beyond the point at
which you reach MMI.
In Georgia, medical treatment remains available until 400 weeks from the
date of injury for more recent injuries, regardless of when the patient
reaches MMI. In catastrophic cases, medical care remains available beyond
400 weeks. Also, in Georgia weekly income benefits will expire only when
you are released to full duty, return to work on light duty but for the
same salary, or meet other specified conditions. Although medical and
income benefits can continue in Georgia after MMI, MMI does have significance
under Georgia law, as that will usually be the point at which an injured
workers’ permanent restrictions and Permanent Impairment Rating
will be determined, and is also the point at which settlement of the claim
might be possible or advisable.
For more information about MMI and workers’ compensation claims in
Georgia, you can
contact Douglas F. Kaleita, P.C. and our Atlanta workers’ comp attorney.
For more than 26 years, we have been providing trusted legal counsel to
clients, securing them
case results throughout our practice history. Call
888.665.7699 for a
free consultation to learn what we can do for your case.