Should I Wait Until I Reach MMI Before Accepting a Car Accident Settlement Offer?

You probably shouldn't settle your car accident claim until you have a clear understanding of your injuries and the future treatment you'll need.

Updated by , J.D. University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated 5/03/2022

If you're making an injury claim after a car accident, you might have heard the insurance adjuster or your attorney talk about "maximum medical improvement" (MMI). In this article, we'll define MMI and explain why it's a key factor when it's time to think about a car accident settlement.

What is Maximum Medical Improvement?

In a car accident insurance claim or lawsuit, maximum medical improvement means:

  • the injured person (the claimant or plaintiff) has fully recovered from all car accident injuries, or
  • the injured person's condition has stabilized and doctors have a clear picture of what ongoing medical care will be required, how much that care will cost, and what physical limitations the injured person might face.

Have You Reached MMI? If Not, Don't Sign on the Dotted Line

You shouldn't negotiate a settlement in a car accident case until you have reached MMI, or at least have a clear understanding of the extent of your injuries and the future care you'll require. Under no circumstances should you sign a settlement agreement or release of liability until you've reached MMI.

Once you settle, you're agreeing to release the at-fault driver from any liability (legal responsibility) in connection with the accident that caused your injuries. If your injuries turn out to be worse than you first thought, or complications arise, you can't go back and ask for more money. Your case is closed forever as soon as you sign a settlement agreement and the at-fault driver is permanently off the hook for additional or unforeseen damages.

Let the Process Play Out

You can file an insurance claim and lawsuit before you reach MMI. In fact, you should notify your own insurance company and the at-fault party's car insurance company about the accident as soon as possible and let them know that you intend to pursue a claim for your injuries.

You should also find out the deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit (called the "statute of limitations") in your state. If you wait too long and miss the statute of limitations deadline, your case will almost certainly be dismissed and you won't be able to seek compensation for your losses in court.

It's also important to attend every medical appointment you make, cooperate with all of your healthcare providers, and do everything your doctors tell you to do in terms of follow-up care. As an insurance claimant or a personal injury plaintiff, you have a legal obligation to mitigate your damages—which simply means you have to take all reasonable steps to get better and avoid doing anything that might make your condition worse.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have questions about whether you've reached MMI, talk to a car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you figure out the value of your claim, negotiate with the insurance adjuster, and fight for you in court.

Learn more about how an attorney can help with your car accident claim. You can also connect with a lawyer directly from this page for free.

Car Accident Claim Tool

Have you been in a car accident?

Take our free car accident quiz to find out if you're likely to get a settlement.

Make the Most of Your Claim
Get the compensation you deserve.
We've helped 215 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you