Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) and Disability

While you are still in treatment, you cannot resolve your workers compensation claim. Rather, you must be released from care and at maximum medical improvement. Because this phrase has both medical and legal significance, we discuss it more here. The recent case of McMahan v. SCDOE shows how a court decides issues about MMI.

Case Facts

While working on a bus, McMahan seriously injured his back and had to have two surgeries. However, he continued to have ongoing back pain and other problems. Although he continued to get treatment, he did not get better. Later on, he died while still receiving medical treatment. Because his doctor wrote he had reached MMI sometime earlier in 2012, McMahan’s estate sued for permanent disability benefits after his death.

At the initial hearing, the single commissioner ruled that McMahan had reached MMI before his death. As a result, the estate could get benefits and awarded permanent and total disability. However, SCDOE appealed, and the Full Commission Appellate Panel reversed. Consequently, the Court of Appeals heard the case.

Appeal Decision

After hearing the arguments, the Court of Appeals reversed again. More specifically, they found that McMahan did not have to be at MMI to receive benefits. Rather, even though McMahan died from unrelated causes, he can still make a claim. As a result, McMahan’s estate could receive the unpaid workers’ compensation benefits. Furthermore, the court found the only evidence presented was that he had reached MMI. Thus, the Appellate Panel committed legal error. So what does this decision show? That the only evidence presented was from the claimant. Looks like hard work and good lawyering made the difference here.

Moral of the Story

While most folks think workers comp is easy, it is not. Rather, serious injury cases are strongly defended. Furthermore, little facts and hard work can make a big difference in outcome. As a result, your workers compensation attorney must prepare every case for trial. Otherwise, you might get less benefits or even lose your case altogether. And one last point about this case. Serious injury cases can take years to finally end. Better make sure your workers comp lawyer is willing to go the distance and fight for you. After all, you are counting on them to do what is best for you and your family. If you hire us, we promise you our best efforts on your behalf. And that is a promise we keep.