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Maximum Medical Improvement for Injured Auto Workers

Chicago Lawyers Helping Factory Employees

Auto workers face the risk of significant injuries in automobile manufacturing plants in Illinois. Injuries may include traumatic brain injury, complex fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome, lacerations, contusions, bruises, burns, strains, sprains, and tears. As an auto worker, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you’ve sustained work-related injuries. These benefits include not only medical benefits but also disability benefits. If you were injured in an auto manufacturing plant, the Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca may be able to represent you. We understand how maximum medical improvement for injured auto workers can affect their benefits.

Maximum Medical Improvement for Injured Auto Workers

Maximum medical improvement refers to the point at which your medical condition or injury has stabilized as much as it will and you’re unlikely to experience any further improvement. Reaching this point doesn’t mean that you are completely better. In some cases, you may be found totally and permanently disabled at that stage. In other cases, when you reach maximum medical improvement, you may be fully recovered or can return to work with certain limitations.

Your workers’ compensation benefits may hinge on a determination of maximum medical improvement. The amount of compensation you will receive as a disabled worker depends on this determination. You and your doctor must understand the maximum medical improvement requirements, or you may not be able to arrive at a fair settlement with an insurer.

Your treating medical provider must be a licensed doctor. He or she determines when you will reach maximum medical improvement. However, your employer’s insurer may question your doctor’s determination and ask that you attend an independent medical exam (IME) conducted by a doctor of its choosing. In that situation, the IME doctor will prepare a report on whether you’ve reached maximum medical improvement and send it to your treating doctor. If your treating doctor agrees with the report that you’re no longer disabled, your total temporary disability benefits will be terminated. However, if your doctor doesn’t agree, you can ask an arbitrator at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission to make a determination.

How Does Maximum Medical Improvement Affect Benefits?

Reaching maximum medical improvement for injured auto workers will affect the level of benefits and compensation they receive through the workers’ compensation system. In the course of that determination, there will be an evaluation of the long-term effects of their injuries. In some cases, at the point of maximum medical improvement, the workers may be partially disabled and yet told to return to work, depending on their abilities, and possibly accompanied by work restrictions.

On the other hand if those who are severely disabled and permanently unable to work may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits.

Settlements

You may be offered a settlement by the workers’ compensation insurer. A settlement is an agreement between you as an injured auto worker and the insurer to release the insurer’s responsibilities towards you in exchange for money. It is risky to settle your case prior to reaching maximum medical improvement. In fact, there’s a presumption in Illinois that any settlement contract you make within seven days of getting injured is fraudulent.

Sometimes the settlement is a lump sum payment while in other situations it may involve installment payments. It’s important to wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement to consider a settlement offer. Settling prior to reaching this point is dangerous because it’s not always clear how much your condition will worsen. Generally, settlements will terminate your right to workers’ compensation benefits including medical care you may need. An experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate for the right to future medical benefits. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission will need to approve your settlement contract to make sure it’s reasonable and fair, and that calculations are accurate.

Consult a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago

If you are concerned about how maximum medical improvement will affect your workers’ compensation claim, you should discuss your situation with the seasoned lawyers of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. We represent injured auto workers in Chicago, Rockford, Quincy, Champaign, and Aurora, along with Adams, Winnebago, Sangamon, Cook, and Kane Counties. Contact us at 312-263-6330 or 800-444-1525 or complete our online form.