Although some people get excited for snow during the winter, most Americans know its the season when slip and fall accidents are most prominent. Each year, 1 million Americans are injured as a result of a slip and fall accident, with over 15,000 cases ending in fatalities. Ice and snow slip and fall accidents are quite common. If you are a victim and have been injured, you want to consult with a slip and fall attorney to determine whether you can legally obtain compensation from the party responsible for maintaining the property. Although most responsible parties are quick to settle, don't settle until you have reached maximum medical improvement. (MMI)
A Look at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
MMI is a term used both legally and medically. This is when a physician who has been following your injuries and conditions state that you have reached the maximum amount of medical improvement that can be expected. In short, your condition is not expected to improve anymore regardless of the amount of medications that you take or the medical treatments that you try.
Once you have reached MMI, the slip and fall attorney will be able to obtain thorough medical reports that basically outline the type of injuries that were sustained, and how the recovery progressed throughout the treatment term. The medical reports should also state what is to be expected in the future. This can help your attorney argue the amount of settlement that you deserve, as the responsible party should provide sufficient compensation for you to treat and handle the worsening of the injuries and conditions sustained as a result of the accident.
The MMI rating should include an impairment rating for all parts of your body, which includes, fingers, hands, elbows, shoulders, legs, knees, lower back, necks, and more. The impairment rating will involve both motor and sensory function. Motor function refers to your ability to move, whereas sensory function refers to your ability to sense your surrounding environment. For example, it is possible for you to have no motor function in a certain body part, but still have sensory function.
Choosing to Settle or Not to Settle
Most of the time, the responsible party may push you to settle before you have reached MMI. Although arguably you will be able to receive the compensation that you need without having to wait, it's not in your best interest, depending on the extent and severity of the injuries that you have sustained. If you settle early and find out that your injuries are going to worsen significantly, you cannot open the case again and request for more compensation. In addition, when settling, the judge and the responsible party are not going to consider the possibility that your injuries may worsen and will determine the amount of compensation that you deserve based on a full recovery.
Your slip and fall attorney will generally have your MMI rating reviewed by other medical professionals in order to ensure that there are no errors in judgment in regards to not only the impairment rating, but also for an MMI date. Your slip and fall attorney will review the amount of neurological damage that you have sustained, along with the type of surgeries that you may have had, in order to determine whether you qualify for a higher impairment rate. A higher impairment rating will allow you to qualify for larger compensation amounts in the future.
Temporary Income Benefits In the Meantime
So, how are you supposed to survive financially in the meantime? Your slip and fall attorney will help you apply for temporary income benefits before you have reached MMI. The temporary income benefits should sustain you financially until your case is settled; however, the amount that you may receive will depend on the state that you reside in.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, it can take a while for you to settle a case related to an ice and snow slip and fall accident. Generally speaking, in most cases, it can take anywhere from three to four months for you to reach a state of MMI. After the MMI has been received, your attorney can proceed with negotiating settlement terms. If your injuries are expected to worsen significantly, it may take even longer for your case to settle.
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