If your workplace injury has kept you from returning to your job for a long period of time, you may be facing a permanent injury. Your employer's workers' compensation insurance is helping, but you may begin to realize that this situation cannot go on much longer. It's difficult to keep up with your financial obligations when you aren't bringing home your full salary, and your employer may be impatient for some resolution to the situation. If you are found to be permanently injured, you may be entitled to a settlement, so read on to learn more about the four steps that lead to this ruling.
1. Lost Wages and Medical Expenses
You have been receiving some valuable benefits up to now, and it's important to fully utilize the medical care that is offered. Your workers' comp insurance will continue as long as you follow the rules. You must continue to seek treatment, take any prescribed medications and participate in any ordered physical therapy or lab tests. You are doing exactly what you should be doing, resting and getting good medical care while you recover from your injuries.
2. Independent Medical Exam
If your injury was very severe and the injury catastrophic, the workers' comp insurance company will ask you to undergo an independent medical exam (IME) as soon as possible. If your injury was the type to take longer to heal, there may be a delay of several months before the request for the IME happens. The timing of the IME is directly related to the nature of your injury. For example, an amputation would trigger a sooner IME request than a back injury, which might take longer to heal. While the doctor who performs the IME is of the insurance company's choice, you have the right to request another exam with a doctor of your own choosing.
3. Maximum Medical Improvement
The IME may have two outcomes: you need more time to heal from your injures or you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). The determination of MMI doesn't mean that you don't need more medical treatment, it means that your condition is not expected to improve any further. The MMI ruling is an important milestone in your workers' comp claim, since it could mean that you are permanently disabled and can never return to your previous position.
4. The Settlement
If you have not felt the need to retain professional legal help with your claim up to now, you should be aware that negotiating a fair settlement is of utmost importance. Remember, you may depend on this sum of money to provide for you for the rest of your life, so getting the maximum possible is vital. A workers' comp attorney understands how much is riding on this deal, so make sure to leave this step up to an expert.
For more information, contact Neifert Byrne & Ozga or a similar firm.