Severe injuries sustained while at work may lead to lasting consequences, such as lifelong pain, loss of ability to perform certain tasks, and a number of other afflictions. Most likely, if this is the case, you are receiving workers' compensation benefits to assist you through the recovery process while you are unable to work. But if that recovery process plateaus or you fully recover, your benefits could change dramatically.
When this is the case, a medical professional will declare that you have reached what is known as "maximum medical improvement," which means you cannot recover any further through the help of medicine, rehabilitation, therapy, or any other form of treatment. This can apply to both physical and psychological injuries.
Maximum medical improvement is used to determine if you are eligible for any type of permanent workers' compensation benefits due to permanent disability. If you have made a full recovery, then your benefits will end and you will be eligible to return to work in full capacity.
If you have lost the ability to perform part or all of your job's functions your employer and their workers' compensation insurance provider will likely work together to determine how you can best be brought back into a working role, whether in a reduced or entirely different capacity. If you are forced to change positions as a result of your injuries, your employer will be required to provide you with new training in order to accommodate your transition into your new position. Your workers' compensation benefits will often also ensure your salary is not reduced as a result of this transition, as well.
HOW IS MAXIMUM MEDICAL IMPROVEMENT DETERMINED?
A medical professional must evaluate your condition on a regular basis while you are receiving workers' compensation benefits. These periodic evaluations are reported back to the insurance company that then determines as to whether or not your benefits should continue, change, or stop all together.
Once your recovery appears to plateau or end and a medical professional determines that your current condition will not improve, they perform what is called an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). This is usually listed as percentage of full-body impairment. Based on those results, your benefits may be reduced or have a hard end date attached to them. Pennsylvania law places a hard limit of 500 weeks on all partial disability benefits, which is any IRE result of under 50%.
An experienced Altoona workers' compensation attorney can help you navigate the considerable complexities of your workers compensation claim. Each claim is different, and a good lawyer can help you build and fight for your case to ensure that your benefits are not unfairly reduced due to a number of mitigating factors.
Goldstein, Heslop, Steele, Clapper, Oswalt, & Smith is an Altoona personal injury law firm who specialize in personal injury and workers' compensation cases. They have helped numerous clients navigate through their claims and have a remarkable record of success in recovering substantial amounts of benefits. Their skilled team all have years of legal experience practice, and can provide you with the compassionate and understanding legal advice you need to aggressively pursue the compensation you are owed.
You can have the legal experts at Goldstein, Heslop, Steele, Clapper, Oswalt & Smith evaluate your case by calling their Altoona law firm at (814) 705-4741 or contacting them online to schedule your initial consultation.