MMI stands for Maximum Medical Improvement. Simply put, it means that further medical treatment will not improve the injury. It is helpful to think of MMI as a medical treatment plateau or level where medical science is not likely to take you further along the path of recovery.

In some circumstances, MMI does coincide with full recovery and the ability to return to work in the same capacity before the work injury. But MMI does not mean full recovery. MMI is often a specific date resulting in a new phase of a workers compensation matter. The responsibility of the comp carrier to the injured worker changes at MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement).
An injured worker in New Jersey should receive all reasonable and necessary medical treatment. But, at some point, the medical providers declare that nothing more can be done to further the injured worker’s recovery from the injury. The opinion can also come from a physician hired by the insurance carrier to perform an IME or Independent Medical Examination. How independent a medical examination is can be a subject of debate. But the opinion can also serve as a basis to declare the worker at MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement). 
Many mistakenly refer to MMI as Maximal Medical Improvement or Point of Maximum Injury but that is incorrect.
Employee sharing support for injured co-worker in a wheelchair

MMI and New Jersey Workers Compensation Law

The movie title “As Good As It Gets” starring Jack Nicholson is a good metaphor that often helps to understand MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement). The medical condition may not be what it was before the work accident but it is the best you can expect.
The injured worker may not even be close to full recovery. But is as far along in recovery as possible from a medical standpoint.
Often an authorized physician will declare an anticipated MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) date included in your health care plan. This date should be carefully reviewed. A review in light of any potential treatment options that remain on the table. A premature declaration of an anticipated MMI date can leave the injured worker without needed medical treatment.   
There is the possibility that medical benefits would continue after MMI if such benefit is needed for medical maintenance. Such maintenance is typically medication designed to keep the worker at the level of MMI for an extended duration of time beyond a finding of MMI.

When an Injured Worker Reaches MMI, Now What?

What happens next after you reach MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement)?  Simply stated, if you are in fact at MMI, it is an important milestone in your work accident matter.  The insurance carrier may stop wage benefits (TTD) upon a finding of MMI.  And all medical benefits may stop as well. 
 The authorized treating physician or IME physician determines you have reached MMI.  This determination may only add to the stress the worker is experiencing from the on-the-job accident.  
A declaration of MMI allows the termination of wage benefits even without the injured worker being able to return to work.  This can cause a financial crisis for the injured worker. 
The case is ready for evaluation of permanency after a waiting period of the earlier of MMI or the date the worker returns to workThat is, whether and to what extent the injured worker will continue to suffer a functional loss of a body part in spite of reaching MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement)This is an important determination for the final benefit award in NJ Workers Compensation. Issues about changes in your lifestyle due to the work accident may be important. Lack of mobility and strength in the injured body part can also be considerations. 
The preparation of the next phase of the case is to determine what, if any, permanency remains for the injured employee. This requires careful review of medical records, the retention of a qualified expert, and negotiation with opposing counsel. The goal is to arrive at a percentage of disability that reflects the facts and circumstances of the case.

NJ Workers Compensation Includes a Hiring Preference at MMI

A declaration of MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) from a physician can have dramatic consequences for an injured worker. A worker is perhaps entitled to a permanency award. That award can take many months (or years) to resolve especially if the case requires a trial to decide an award of permanency. In the meantime, the injured worker usually does not receive any further medical or wage benefits. This is a harsh reality for those workers who are permanently injured in a work accident. And are unable to return to the previous position. Often these workers cannot find a suitable employment position consistent with their training and work skills.  
In response, NJ enacted a new law in September of 2021 that applies to employers with over 50 employees. This law requires employers to implement a hiring preference for workers at MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) who can no longer perform the essential functions of the job from which they were injured. It is an effort to keep injured workers employed with any permanent restrictions resulting from the work accident. The law states in part:

Following a work-related injury, an employer shall provide a hiring preference to an employee who has reached maximum medical improvement and is unable to return to the position at which the employee was previously employed for any existing, unfilled position offered by the employer for which the employee can perform the essential duties of the position.

Summary MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) Flow Chart

Below is a diagram of the basic concepts of MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) in NJ Workers Compensation law

Key MMI events and consequences for an injured worker

Carefully Select The Right New Jersey Work Accident Lawyer For You

A workplace accident can bring life to a hard and sudden stop. Your responsibilities in life do not stop. Your world can turn upside down.
You need a good team on your side to navigate the complexities of MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement). Take your time and make the best choice of attorney for you. Last but not least, our contact number is (856) 596-8000.

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