One common point of confusion for car accident victims is determining when it might be a good idea to settle a personal injury claim with an insurance company. While the length of any personal injury case can vary depending upon the specific facts of the matter, the one commonality in all personal injury cases is that the injured claimant should reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) before settling or resolving their case.
The American Medical Association defines MMI as "a condition or state that is well stabilized and unlikely to change substantially in the next year, with or without medical treatment."
Why Is Medical Treatment Important?
If you have been injured in a car accident or are pursuing a personal injury claim for some other type of legal matter, the most important thing you need to do is get medical attention for your injuries. This is arguably the most important step in your personal injury case, as it creates documented evidence that you have been injured and that a doctor or other type of medical professional has provided treatment you for those injuries.
Without documented medical records to serve as evidence and proof of the causation of your injuries, making a personal injury claim with an insurance company may be difficult. One of the most important factors affecting how insurance companies handle claims is the amount of evidence there is to support the claim. Without sufficient medical evidence, the insurance company is unlikely to feel any pressure to take your claim seriously and offer you fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Once you begin medical treatment, your doctors and other medical providers will track your progress and should continue to evaluate your recovery to determine how much more treatment you might need to heal. Doctors may also prescribe additional types of treatment such as chiropractic, physical therapy, and possibly even surgery in extreme cases. The medical records for all of your treatment, when analyzed by an attorney and his or her team of medical experts, can paint a complete picture of the before-and-after of your car accident or personal injury case.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
The ultimate goal in receiving medical treatment for your injuries is to return your physical and psychological health to the state it was before the accident occurred. In legal terms, this is called being made whole. If you are injured in an accident which was caused by someone else’s negligence, the law dictates that you have the right to be made whole, which is the purpose of filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party and his or her insurance company.
In some cases where the injured victim has suffered more serious injuries, the time of recovery can either be very long, or difficult to determine. In very extreme cases, it is possible that an accident victim may not be able to fully recover – or be made whole – at all.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) for injuries resulting from an accident means that the injured person has either fully recovered, or has recovered to the fullest possible extent based on a medical doctor’s expert opinion. In cases where a person has reached MMI but will not fully recover from his or her injuries, the pain and suffering component of their claim is usually much more significant and could result in a larger settlement, depending upon the availability of insurance coverage and other factors.
Why Hiring An Attorney Can Help
The process of identifying and proving Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) for a car accident or other type of personal injury case can be difficult for the average person. If you do not have a complete understanding of your legal rights, navigating the personal injury claims process on your own can be very challenging and there are many common mistakes that accident victims regularly make.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and you are unsure about how to handle the claim, it may be in your best interests to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling serious personal injury claims. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, and we offer free case evaluations to anyone who has questions about their own personal injury case.
Call our office at (206) 727-4000 today to discuss your legal rights with our award-winning team, or simply enter your case details in the confidential contact form on this page.