Florida Workers’ Compensation Statute §440.02 defines the “date of maximum medical improvement” as the date you can no longer reasonably expect lasting impairment or further recovery from an injury. Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is based on reasonable medical probability. Therefore, a medical doctor should determine when you reach maximum medical improvement.
How Does Maximum Medical Improvement Impact My Miami Workers’ Compensation Case?
Once you reach maximum medical improvement, your doctor sends a report to the workers’ compensation insurance company. Workers are generally expected to return to work when they reach MMI, assuming they can do so. Temporary disability benefits may also end at this point.
Florida workers’ comp provides two types of temporary disability benefits. If your doctor states you cannot perform any work, you should be entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits.
Typically, workers receive 66 2/3% of their average weekly wages for TTD benefits. Some severe work injuries could entitle you to up to 80% of your wages for up to six months after the injury.
TTD benefits are not paid for the first seven days you miss from work because of a work-related injury. However, the insurance company pays you for the first seven days if you are out of work for more than 21 days.
If you can return to work part-time or with restricted duties, you might receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. You can earn up to 80% of your regular wages for TPD benefits.
Wage loss benefits are paid for a maximum of 104 weeks. Additionally, the amount you can receive for workers’ comp temporary disability benefits is limited by the state’s maximum weekly compensation rate.
Maximum Medical Improvement and Permanent Impairment Ratings in Florida
Some workers reach MMI without recovering fully from their workplace injuries. If this happens, the treating physician should assign an impairment rating based on the severity of the disability. Impairment ratings range from zero (no impairment) to 20 (totally disabled).
The type of impairment benefits you receive depends on whether you can return to work in some capacity after reaching MMI.
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are paid if you cannot perform any work after reaching MMI. The amount is subject to state maximum rates and should be the same as your temporary disability benefits. You can receive PTD benefits until age 75 or for your lifetime if you do not qualify for Social Security benefits.
If you can return to work in some capacity, you might receive impairment benefits. These benefits compensate you for a partial impairment. You can receive up to 75% of your temporary disability rate, but the amount is reduced to 50% if you earn at least the same amount as you did before your work injury.
What if I Cannot Work, But the Workers’ Comp Doctor Says I Can Return To Work?
Unfortunately, employers and workers’ compensation insurance providers often try to force an employee back to work too early. They claim the worker has healed fully and is ready to return. Sadly, some doctors favor employers and insurance companies, so they might make a premature MMI declaration.
Contact our Miami workers’ compensation lawyers if you believe you cannot return to work because of a work-related injury. We can help you take steps to fight the determination.
How Are Impairment Ratings Issued in Florida?
Your treating physician typically assigns an impairment rating once you reach maximum medical improvement. Medical professionals should follow the Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Guidelines when assigning ratings. The guide provides standards doctors use to judge the severity of an injury.
If the insurance company disagrees with the impairment rating assigned by your physician, it might direct you to attend an independent medical examination (IME). During the IME, a doctor conducts a complete examination to provide an opinion of your condition. You could be denied workers’ compensation benefits if you refuse to attend the IME.
An IME should be a fair and impartial evaluation of your condition. However, whether your IME is fair could depend on the doctor who performs the IME and which party chose the doctor.
Can I Contest an IME in a Miami Workers’ Compensation Case?
Even though you might be required to attend an IME, you have certain rights. Therefore, seeking legal advice as soon you receive notice of an IME can be in your best interest.
An attorney explains your rights and the IME process. Also, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you contest the results of the IME report in some situations.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Miami Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Is your employer or the insurance company trying to make you return to work before you heal? Do you think your work injuries are more severe than the doctor states?
Our lawyers at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers can help. Call our Miami workers’ compensation attorneys for a free case evaluation at (305) 937-0191.