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My, my, my . . . What's This MMI and How Might It Affect My Workers' Comp?

January 23, 2016 by Richard L. Magill
My, my, my . . . What’s This MMI and How Might It Affect My Workers’ Comp?

You know what they say, “slip happens.” One day in 2009 while Jerry was working at his retail job at the mall, he slipped and fell. Yeah, he got a little banged up and was therefore entitled to file a claim, and he received temporary total workers’ compensation.

The Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC) approved the claim with no further pain or stress on Jerry’s part. The claim was allowed for all of the conditions that Jerry sustained as a result of the fall: a concussion, contusion of the scalp, neck sprain, a bulging disc and substantial aggravation of his preexisting arthritis.

A short while later, at the request of the BWC, Jerry was examined to determine the “extent of his disability.” The BWC doctor reported that based on Jerry’s medical history and his physical examination, Jerry had reached a “treatment plateau” and was able to return to work with restrictions.  Even though the BWC doctor said Jerry needed further treatment and could not perform his job duties, he still felt he had reached “maximum medical improvement.”

So, what is MMI and how did it affect Jerry’s workers’ comp from that point on?The finding of “maximum medical improvement”, or MMI, by the BWC doctor generally has no effect upon Jerry’s treatment. . . . but the payment of his lost wages is an entirely different story.The BWC mandates that payments for temporary total disability stop when the injured worker has reached MMI.

MMI is defined as a treatment plateau (meaning, your health condition has become “static” or “well stabilized”). As a result of this plateau, no fundamental functional or physiological change can be expected in the patient (in this case, Jerry). Based on reasonable medical probability, in spite of his continuing with his treatment, the BWC doctor felt Jerry’s condition was not going to “improve.”  Thus he had reached maximum medical improvement.

The BWC then filed a motion to terminate Jerry’s temporary total compensation based on their own doctor’s report. Jerry then had a hearing scheduled at the Industrial Commission. The BWC had their own attorney there representing the bureau, and Jerry called the law firm of Heller, Maas, Moro and Magill to be his representative. We don’t know the exact outcome of Jerry’s hearing, but we do know that no matter what it is, there are many options available to Jerry, which his attorney will outline when the time is right.

About the Author

Richard L. Magill
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Richard L. “Pete” Magill worked in mills during the summer to help finance his education. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and his law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, where he was a member of the Law Journal and graduate cum laude. Throughout more than three decades as a lawyer, he has dedicated his practice to helping injured workers. Several of his cases have resulted in appellate court decisions that have helped to change Ohio law in ways that benefit the state’s workers as a whole. In addition to his practice, he is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Workers’ Compensation Committee and also the liaison committee between the Bar Association and the Industrial Commission.

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