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 millions in case results throughout our practice history. Call 888.665.7699 for a free consultation to learn what we can do for your case.