If your work-related accident caused severe injuries, you could be looking at a permanent disability. Most accidents that occur at work are relatively minor, and workers' comp is meant to provide medical care and paid time-off to recuperate at home. When your injury is more severe, the partial wage you're earning can place a major financial hardship on you and your family, however. Read on to learn more about how workers' comp handles permanent injuries.
Medical Care and Lost Wages
This is the initial stage of workers' comp and provides total payment of any medical expenses related to the injury, from doctor's visits and medication to physical therapy. Your wages, however, are usually only a portion of the usual amount you would be bringing home under normal circumstances. To continue to be covered by this insurance, you must continue any medical treatments as ordered by your doctors, since failing to do so could make it appear that your injury has fully healed and you are ready to return to work.
Independent Medical Examination
At some point you will likely be asked to undergo an independent medical examination (IME). This exam is carried out by a doctor of the insurance company's choosing, and there are 3 possible outcomes of the exam:
1. You are permanently disabled and will never be able to return to your present position at work.
2. Your injuries are still healing and it is too early to tell when, or if, you will be able to return to work.
3. Your injuries have healed and you must return work.
The timing of this request really depends a great deal on the initial severity of your injuries. For example, if it was immediately apparent that your injury was catastrophic, such as an amputation or spinal injury, you may be targeted for a IME soon after your accident. On the other hand, if your injury took more time to evaluate, such as a brain injury, your IME may occur some weeks or months after your accident.
Maximum Medical Improvement Ruling
The IME may result in a ruling of maximum medical improvement (MMI). This term does not mean that you will not require further medical treatment, but instead means that your IME doctor has determined that your condition will not improve any further. In other words, you are at a plateau in your recovery and are not likely to improve enough to return to your job. You can equate this ruling with being deemed permanently disabled.
If you are at MMI, the workers' comp insurance company must now offer you a settlement. The amount offered depends on your age, education, work history, wages and more, but the amount is paramount since if you are 100% disabled you may be dependent on that amount for the remainder of your life, or until you can collect your Social Security retirement.
Be sure to seek the advice of a workers' comp attorney to help you at any step along the way, but especially for the settlement negotiation phase.Visit a site like http://www.lovettlaw.com/ for more information.