Hi, my name is Kenneth Berger and I handle life-changing injury and wrongful death cases across the state of South Carolina. I made this video to answer questions about maximum medical improvement and impairment ratings in our workers’ comp system. Our South Carolina personal injury lawyer details further.
How MMI and Impariment Ratings Work
So at some point during your workers’ comp case the treating doctor, who a lot of times is called the authorized treating physician, will give you what's known as an impairment rating and will also say you've reached maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement: that means that the doctor doesn't think you're getting necessarily any better, but you're not getting any worse either; you've plateaued. And once the doctor thinks that you've plateaued, he or she may say that you'll continue to need future medical care, continue to need medications, but your condition’s probably just going to be pretty steady.
And it's at that point that the doctor will also give you what's known as an impairment rating. In other words, if you were a hundred percent before and now even for as good as you're going to get, you're less than 100 percent that's an impairment. And the rating may be a few percent, maybe a heck of a lot of percent.
Factors for Impairment Ratings
Impairment ratings are based on a few different factors. It could be based on your loss of strength; it may be based on whether or not you've had any type of surgery; and any type of hardware, plates, rods, things of that nature placed inside your body with the surgeries. Impairment ratings can also factor in decreases in range of motion and how pain levels may affect your overall function. A lot of times before an impairment rating is given, the doctor may have you undergo what's known as a functional capacity evaluation where you do a bunch of tests to see what you can do versus what you can't do, okay?
And an impairment rating is one of the big factors in determining the overall value of your workers compensation case. And that impairment rating and some of your work restrictions are also going to factor into the overall value of the workers comp case. If you are permanently disabled in the sense that you can no longer work, you can no longer engage in meaningful employment, then obviously, you know, that's going to be a terrible situation for you and at the same time, result in your workers’ comp case arguably being worth more money. I hope that's not the case; I hope you're not permanently disabled if you're watching this video.
Once again, once you've gotten to this MMI point, impairment ratings are done, everything's pretty much concluded, we got a better picture of what's going on going forward, you're going to be able to either choose a single lump sum settlement. And if you go that route, you can get a lump sum and you should get money based on you foregoing any future medical care through workers’ comp. A lot of times that's called a clincher agreement. On the other hand, you may decide that you want workers’ comp to continue providing and paying for some of your medical care. And in those situations you should still get a lump sum, but it may be less since your medicals are staying quote “open” and workers’ comp’s going to continue paying for them. Alright, we've gone over a bunch of acronyms we've talked about MMI, FCES, impairment ratings, as you know if you're watching this video workers’ comp cases can get difficult, they can get a little tricky. If you have any questions about a workers’ comp case, no matter where you are in the process, we encourage you to consult with an attorney. Make sure your rights are protected. We'd love to hear from you, answer any questions, help in any way that we can, and more than anything we just wish you a full recovery, physically. We hope you get back to work and lastly, we thank you for taking time to watch this video. Take care.