The “date of maximum medical improvement” is defined in Florida Workers’ Compensation Statute §440.02. It is the date when no further improvement is expected from the recovery of an injury. Maximum medical improvement (MMI) should be based on reasonable medical probability, so a doctor almost always determines when a worker reaches that point.
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Why Is Maximum Medical Improvement an Important Element of My Florida Workers’ Compensation Case?
Your doctor sends a report to the workers’ compensation insurance company when you reach maximum medical improvement. Typically, workers are expected to return to work once they reach MMI. Therefore, the insurance company stops paying temporary disability benefits.
An injured worker in Florida can receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits if they cannot work because of a workplace injury.
TTD benefits do not compensate you for all loss of income. Instead, you can receive roughly 66 2/3% of your average weekly wages earned before your workplace accident. Some injured workers can receive up to 80% of their wages for six months if they sustain severe work injuries.
You do not receive TTD benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are out of work for 21 days or longer, you are paid for the first seven days of missed work.
Some workers can return to their job with work restrictions. If so, they might be eligible for temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. Workers can earn up to 80% of their average weekly wages for TPD benefits.
Temporary disability benefits in a workers’ comp case are subject to maximum weekly compensation rates. Benefits are also paid for a maximum of 10 weeks.
Permanent Impairment Ratings and Maximum Medical Recovery
An injured worker might heal completely from their work-related injuries. If so, they have an impairment rating of zero. However, if the worker sustains a permanent disability because of the work injury, the doctor should assign an impairment rating between 0 and 20.
An impairment rating of 20 means that the worker is entirely disabled. Their work injury prevents them from returning to work in any capacity.
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are subject to state maximum rates and should be the same amount as TTD benefits. Workers can receive PTD benefits until they turn 75 years old or for their entire life if they do not qualify for Social Security benefits.
A worker might be able to return to work even though they have a permanent impairment. The impairment benefits they receive depend on their impairment rating, the year they were injured, and their average weekly wage. The maximum rate is 75% of the temporary disability rate.
How Do Doctors Issue Impairment Ratings for Florida Workers’ Comp Cases?
Typically, your treating physician is the doctor who issues the impairment rating. When you reach MMI, the doctor assigns an impairment rating based on the Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Guidelines. All doctors should use these standards to issue impairment ratings.
Your employer or the workers’ comp insurance provider might disagree with the impairment rating. If so, they can require you to attend an independent medical examination (IME) by another physician for another opinion. Refusing to attend an IME and cooperate with the examination could result in a denial of your workers’ comp claim.
IMEs are intended to be impartial evaluations of a worker’s level of impairment. However, doctors chosen by the workers’ comp company might not issue fair evaluations.
Therefore, it is important to seek legal advice if you are required to attend an IME for your workers’ comp case. A Boca Raton workers’ compensation lawyer explains your rights during the IME process. The attorney helps you dispute the results of an IME and fights to get you the benefits you deserve after a workplace injury, including negotiating a fair workers’ comp settlement.
What if My Doctor Says I Can Work, But I Do Not Think I Have Fully Recovered?
Workers’ compensation insurance companies and employers pressure workers to return to the job. Therefore, they might try to force you to return to work before you are ready. Unfortunately, many workers’ comp doctors favor the employer and the insurance company, so they might say you reached MMI too early.
If you are being forced back to work after an injury, contact our Boca Raton workers’ comp lawyers immediately. We can help you seek a second opinion from a medical specialist to dispute the doctor’s diagnosis and impairment rating.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Boca Raton Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Is your employer or workers’ comp insurance company trying to force you to return to work before you have healed from your injuries? Call our Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Boca Raton workers’ compensation lawyer at (561)-556-7873. We can help you fight unjust claims of maximum medical improvement that negatively impact your workers’ comp case.