D.C. Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, accidents and work injuries questions answered by D.C. injury attorneys.
Here are some of the questions people have when they first contact us about D.C., Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, serious car accidents or workers compensation.
We try to provide as much information as we can based on our experience as medical malpractice lawyers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and based on representing many hundreds of people who have been injured in accidents or at work in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Here are the basics:
Patients permanently injured by medical malpractice, or the families of patients killed because of medical negligence, when a hospital, HMO or healthcare corporation doesn't follow basic patient safety rules deserve justice - resources to help with the harms and losses due to the injuries or death of their loved one.
Drivers who don't follow the rules of the road, driving recklessly, driving drunk, speeding, and texting should be accountable for the harm they cause when their actions cause a car accident or wreck.
Workers hurt on the job deserve workers compensation benefits for lost wages, medical treatment and permanent injuries. If a worker is killed on the job, his family deserves workers compensation death benefits - to at least help with the financial loss of a loved one.
But since every person is unique, if you have questions or need information about an injury or death in your family, please contact us to talk it through. We'll talk to you, schedule a free initial meeting and give you all the information we can.
- Page 1
After an accident, can I use my uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage?
Car Insurance After an Accident
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is something every driver in DC, Virginia or Maryland should have - here's why:
It is the insurance coverage you can use after a serious accident when the other driver doesn't have any liability or car insurance or doesn't have enough to pay for all of the harms he caused as a resultof the accident - your medical bills, hospitalization, physical therapy, rehab, medications - everything you now need to recover from the accident (for as long as you need it) plus the lost income if you can't work, and all of the other damages for personal injury cases allowed under the law, like pain, suffering, permanent injury, future medical care, future lost income and others.
Your UM/UIM coverage will step in and pay up to the limits of your policy. Here's how it works:
Let's say a driver is on his phone and crashes into you on 495 because he wasn't paying attention and crossed the line into your lane of traffic. Your car was totaled and you suffered serious injuries - a torn rotator cuff, a broken leg, a concussion. You spent 3 days in the hospital after surgery on the fractured femur and you need another surgery on the rotator cuff. You're facing a long recovery of medical specialists, physical therapy, and rehab.
And you're paid by the hour in a physical job your doctors have said you can't do for at least 6 months - and if you don't work, you don't get paid.
The driver's insurance company calls and says they are responsible for the accident he caused (great). But they only have $25,000 in coverage, so that is the most the insurance company will ever pay. Your hospital and surgery bills are already more than $25,000!
Is it fair? No. Is it legal? Yes.
If you have UM/UIM, that coverage will make up the difference, up to your policy limit. Let's say you had a $300,000 UM/UIM policy - then after the other driver's insurance offered their policy limit of $25,000, your insurance would pay up to another $275,000 for a total of $300,000.
If you didn't have UM/UIM coverage on your policy, you'd be stuck with the $25,000 or trying to collect from the driver personally (and people with minimum insurance policies usually don't have much money...)
Will your insurance company just pay you the UM/UIM coverage? No - they are not in the business of just giving away money. Can you settle a UM/UIM case? Absolutely - and here's one we worked on recently.
Check you Declaration Page on your own insurance policy (and if you can't find it, you can get this online from most insurance companies. We're happy to review it with you, just fax it to (202) 393 - 3324 or email it to [email protected] with the subject UM/UIM and we'll set up a time to talk about it at no charge.
Could cerebral palsy have been prevented?
One of the hardest parts of investigating a medical malpractice case in DC, Maryland or Virginia against a hospital is having to deal with the internal conflict that one may feel about calling the birth of a precious child "a medical mistake." And a lot of people use this term but it's not accurate. Medical malpractice means the hospital didn't follow established patient safety rules to keep you and your baby safe. It's not a medical mistake - the hospital was negligent - but whatever term you use, as a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, you know you have greater responsibilities than most parents do.
And one of the big ones is the financial responsibility you have for a child with cerebral palsy.
One thing we know is for sure is that taking care of a child with special-needs can be an exhausting, 24/7 occupation. And we don't pretend that resources are not an issue in this matter. We're upfront with the families of kids with developmental delays - if your child's disability was caused by medical malpractice or hospital negligence, we'll help you get the money to take care of your child. No matter your health and financial situation now, you won't always be there to take care of him when he's an adult - what happens then?
That's why we do what we do.
Here is an excerpt from one of our publications, our Special Needs Resource Guide. It tells you a little bit about our philosophy.
The days are long but the years are short…
If you are a parent or grandparent caring for a special needs child - a child with developmental disabilities and delay or cerebral palsy for example - then you know that is a 24/7 occupation. As many people have said, “the days are long but the years are short”. How do you know what is out there in terms of resources for you and your child or family? Since caring for a disabled child or young adult is a full time, around-the-clock occupation, we have put together this book of resources available for parents, caregivers and families with disabled or special-needs children.
Many of the resources available are public benefits, some are private benefits. Some may have specific disabilities they are a resource for, such as cerebral palsy or autism. Many resources may depend on where the disabled child lives, or income levels, or other factors. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to have a list of available resources in your area to use as a starting point in advocating for your child. There are many other opportunities, resources, and benefits available to children with special needs and their families that are not listed here.
And we're certainly not experts on raising special needs kids (or any kids for that matter). These are resource opportunities we've identified; many from parents of special needs children we have helped. And parents are always giving us ideas. If you know of other resources or ideas that work and could help parents and families with special needs children, please let us know. You can email ideas and resources to [email protected] or call (202) 393-3320.
We do this because identifying medical malpractice that led to your child's cerebral palsy could potentially make an enormous difference for your child. And for you.
If you think that your child's developmental delays or cerebral palsy may have been the result of medical malpractice, hospital negligence, a medical mistake, call us today. There could be time limitations so you don't want to wait. Plus, you will be one step closer to getting the resources that can help your child and your family. You can reach us a 202-393-3320 and you will speak to a person who wants to hear your story.
Do I Need To Share My Medical Records with a Prospective Car Accident Attorney in DC?
So, you've called a D.C. lawyers office and hopefully you have spoken to a warm, inquisitive person who wants to hear your story (that's what we do at Donahoe Kearney -- you'll never hear us pick up the phone and say "law office"). That person takes you through a series of questions, which you may or may not feel like answering, considering all you wanted to do was find out how much an attorney costs, and whether or not you have a case.
It may be frustrating to know that even at the outset with all of the questions, we may not know whether or not you have a case until we've reviewed other things like medical records, insurance correspondence, pay stubs, police report, photos, etc.
We know that the process can be frustrating but here's the thing; we are not a "run of the mill" type of law firm. We promise to never take your case just so we can run it through the mill and collect a check after settling quickly (like some of those firms you see on TV). All of our cases we have taken because we have reviewed all of the materials, thoughtfully analyzed the case, and decided that your case is a case we think we can win and get something for you that makes your life better.
That's just the kind of firm we are.
Now, back to the process. We may ask you for additional information, like medical records or a copy of your insurance policy (depending on the type of case it is) and we always keep these records completely confidential and don't share them with anyone unless you've given us express permission.
Even if it turns out in the end that we are not the best fit for your case (sometimes the geographic location makes a difference, or the merits of the case lie outside of our practice area) we will do our best to either A) refer your case out to a trusted associate we know will do a good job or B) put enough information in your hands that you can handle the matter on your end.
That's just the kind of firm we are.So, do you need to share your medical records with a prospective attorney? The answer is, maybe. But don't forget to ask the good questions.Will my records be treated confidentially? What will happen to my records once you are doing reviewing them?If you have questions about what it takes to hire an attorney in DC, Maryland or Virginia, don't be shy! Give us a call at 202-393-3320 and we would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
Should I Hire A Lawyer From a TV Commercial For My Serious Injury Case?
Great question - how do you find the best lawyer for your injury case?
There is no doubt that there are many, many lawyers to choose from in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia, and many say they specialize in injury or accident cases.
Some of those lawyers have big, fancy billboards, their name on the side of a bus, or star in their own TV commercials. But you have to ask yourself this simple question:
Why? Why do they have to advertise like that?
(Because they have to? Because they would rather spend money on ads than on your case? Because they've already taken care of everything for you and have extra time on their hands)?
We don't know the answers to these questions (and you don't either), but here's the real question:
Is this the best law firm in the D.C. area
to help me with all of the problems caused by my serious injury?
Lots of big law firms advertise they handle 27 types of cases. But that doesn't mean they are good at 27 different things - who is? Just because they advertise for medical malpractice, personal injury or workers' compensation doesn't mean that they are right for you. In fact, lots of times these law firms will give you first-year and second-year associates (fresh out of law school), who have a mountain of other work to do ( a ton of other cases, research memos for partners, business networking, attending lower level meetings, and so on) and they don't have the time or the experience to handle your case well.
When it comes to medical malpractice, you really have to do your homework to find the right lawyer, otherwise you can waste valuable time with an inexperienced lawyer who will not be able to move forward with your case. This area is complicated, time consuming and costly - that's why we take only medical malpractice cases with catastrophic injuries - we don't want to put you through years of litigation that won't help you and your family (and we tell you that up front).
Personal injury is yet another field of law that can fall prey to this advertising mill mentality. Some law firms will take personal injury cases and "run them through the mill," which means that they will handle the casework as though it is paint-by-numbers and do whatever they need to in order to settle quickly and make quick money. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense for them to take the small cases that they do because they can't possibly give all of the cases the personal attention that they deserve and make money at the same time.
We get calls from folks who have been "accepted" by a "mill firm" and they haven't heard from their attorney in six months or EVER. And sometimes, even though they have a good case, we can't represent them because the case has already been screwed up by their other attorney.
So, you may be asking, "what's different about Donahoe Kearney?" Well, I'll tell you.
Attorneys Frank Kearney and Keith Donahoe are specialists. At Donaohe Kearney, all we do is represent people with serious injuries who need to be compensated in order to fairly adjust their lifestyle and pay for things like not being able to feed your family because you can no longer work, modifying your home to accomodate your injuries, and getting the future medical care you need.
And we don't take every case that comes our way. If we did, we would never be able to give the time and attention to each case, warranted by the needs of the client and the case. We will work tirelessly to make sure that you are made as whole as possible after a serious injury -- just ask any of our past clients.
And if you think we may be the right lawyers for you, call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to get started working with us.
I've been scheduled for a formal hearing. What should I expect?
At Donahoe Kearney we go to bat for our workers' comp clients: which means if they are not getting the treatment and/or benefits they deserve, we will file for a formal hearing on their behalf.
The difference between an informal conference and a formal hearing is pretty simple: for an informal conference we are just meeting with a claims examiner who will help us to resolve our conflict with the other side. The claims examiner will issue a recommendation that is nonbinding, but may become final if both sides agree. This is unlikely, because the insurance company can reject the recommendation of the claims examiner for any reason and request a formal hearing instead.
There are very few situations we request informal conferences for - and never if our client is not getting paid.
A formal hearing is a condensed, on the record trial where you file exhibits, call witnesses and make opening statements and closing arguments. The decision from the formal hearing is binding, but can be appealed. If handling a case yourself, you'll also have to understand all the ins and the outs of the process (discovery, medical records, exhibits, procedure) but we take care of all of the legal issues for our injured worker clients and we DO communicate with our clients on what to expect. Here's an example of a letter that we send to our clients when we have filed for formal hearing:
I just wanted to let you know we requested a Formal Hearing in your case to get you the workers' comp benefits the insurance company has denied (or delayed). We take this seriously and are aggressive about this approach - if the insurance company isn't doing what we think they should for you, we take them to court.
There is nothing you need to do right now, but here's what you can expect:
- You will receive a Scheduling Order in a few weeks with the date of the Formal Hearing and a lot of other dates leading up to it. Put the Formal Hearing date on your calendar and plan to be there, but don't worry about the other dates in the Scheduling Order - we take care of all of that.
- We get the Scheduling Order as well, and we'll call or email you to make sure you got it.
- We will thoroughly prepare you for the hearing and contact you to schedule meetings with Mr. Kearney as we get closer to the hearing date.
- Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to move up the hearing date - these are being set about 4 months from the time we request the hearing. Sometimes these are re-scheduled because of conflicts with the lawyers' schedules, the judge, etc., but only by a week or so.
- We keep talking to the insurance company lawyers, to try to get them to provide the benefits before we ever have to go to the hearing, so rest assured we are doing everything we can to speed up the process.
- We'll be working on your case a lot between now and the hearing - be sure to keep us updated on your condition and medical treatment, like always, becasue we will probably need more frequent updates.
And if anything changes, we will let you know as soon as we hear.
Finally, hang in there - we know it is a difficult and unfair system that favors insurance companies. But we will do everything we can for you.
Have you been given the run-around by the insurance company? Have they stopped, or delayed paying your workers comp benefits or medical treatment? You may need to file a formal hearing and for most people we don't recommend doing this one your own (some can, if the case is small and/or straightforward). Give us a call today at 202-393-3320 to see if we might be the right firm for you. The call is free and confidential, so you have nothing to lose. Give us a call today to speak to a real person who wants to hear your story.
What's Different About Getting Medical Treatment on Workers' Comp?
If you were injured at work and are receving benefits, you may be getting treatment for the first time and feel confused about all of the differences between just getting medical care and getting medical care when you're on workers comp.
Here are some basics about getting medical treatment after a work injury.
First of all, your treatment requires authorizations and all of your providers (there may be one or several) will need to have the authorizations to treat you in their records. They have to carry the authorizations so they have the authority to bill workers' 'comp. When scheduling your treatment, you may need to be prepared for extra administrative measures, evaluations, and paperwork that you might not have to deal with when using your regular insurance. Give yourself a little extra time before your first appointment wth a new provider to make space for these types of tasks. And call ahead of time to make sure that the office has indeed received the auhorizations from your workers' comp adjuster.
Second, when you are seeing your treating physician (not your physical therapist or occupational therapist) you will need to get a disability note from him or her whenever you see them. This disability note, which says whether or not you can return to work (or return to work with restrictions) will be the piece of paper that triggers whether or not you keep receiving financial benefits while you are out of work.
Look at your slip before you leave the office and make sure it says what the doctor said to you. Doctor's offices sometimes make clerical errors so you want to make sure that the paperwork matches what you discussed with your doctor. And don't leave the office without it in your hand!
You also need to make sure that you have received all of your referrals from your treating physican to see other doctors related to your treatment. Typically the doctor will give you an order that states that type of treatment he would like you to seek - like physical therapy, and MRI, or a referral to a specialist..
The referrals have to match the type of treatment exactly. For example, if the referral says "physical therapy" and you want to get "aqua therapy," you will have to get an order specifically for aqua therapy.
Third, you need to make sure you have all of your office visit notes from your treating physician, and reports from any surgeries and special treatment. We recommend that you keep a copy of all of your own records, but for our clients we order and keep track of all of the records associated with their treatment and we seek authorizations on their behalf.
These records, especially from your treating physician, are the trail of paperwork that we use to show continuity of care and continuation of treatment, so you will also want to make sure that your visit notes reflect everything that you talked about with your doctor. Sometimes doctors offices inadvertently leave in visit notes things that don't correspond with the doctor's orders, such as "claimant can go back to work," when the doctor actually put you out of work for another month. These mistakes are not fatal, you just need to call the doctor and ask them to correct the visit notes. Sometimes your adjuster will want to see your visit reports, so you want to make sure they are accurate.
If you have a new workers' comp claim and are just getting started, you will absolutely need to order our free book "Protect Your Rights - the Ultimate Guide to DC Workers' Compensation." This book, written by premier workers' comp attorney Frank R. Kearney, gives you insight into what you need to know about DC workers' comp. And if you have further questions don't hesitate to give us a call at 202-393-3320. You will speak with a real person today who can get you started.
I Just Assume the Insurance Company Will Pay After an Accident -- Right?
Here's what your dad probably taught you when you first started driving. If you get in an accident, call the police and get the insurance information. They pay for the damage, and you deal with your end.
That's good advice, but it's not the whole story.
The truth is that any insurance adjuster, in any industry, is tasked with limiting both liability and financial exposure on behalf of their company. Which means that you have to be prepared to prove, and fight for, the benefits that you are owed after a car accident.
Now first of all -- follow your dad's advice because without a police report it can be very difficult to enforce an insurance claim: especially if you are seriously injured. Make sure all of the insurance information is getting on the police report (simply speak to the officer about it) and make sure you have the same information for your personal records. Get the name of your officer and his badge information. This is all just very simple information gathering that you do after an auto accident.
You will also want to photograph all of the damage (both to your car and theirs) before the other driver drives away because you will likely never see them again.
Next, we would recommend always going to the emergency room, even if you don't have a serious injury. Some injuries are latent and you won't feel their effects until weeks down the road. If you have something like a sore neck and spine, you may not even relate it to the injury if it starts hurting later. It's always better to get checked out immediately, and then once you start to experience symptoms, visit your primary care doctor.
Now, when do you need a lawyer for your accident case?
Most of the time if your injuries are minor and the insurance company is cooperating, you can probably handle the case on your own with one of our free books or reports to assist you.
But, if you have more serious injuries with protracted medical care, surgery, and can't work, you will probably need an attorney to prove your case and negotiate a settlement on your behalf. (plus determine how much insurance coverage the at fault driver has and file a lawsuit to hold that driver and his insurance company accountable).
We'll help you do what's right for you and your familly after a car accident in DC, Maryland or Virginia. Call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to get started.
How Can I Help My Child in a Medical Malpractice Case?
When a child is hurt by medical malpractice in a hospital, or by a doctor, the effects can be devastating.
What is available to a child hurt by medical malpractice?
When a child is the patient harmed by medical malpractice, there are a number of factors to consider to make sure the child gets a full recovery. And remember, a child can be injured in utero, before they are born or due to medical malpractice in treating the mom when she was pregnant - like not screening for or treating an infection that leads to premature delivery and a severely premature baby. That child can suffer from the effects of prematurity and have a medical malpractice case.
Legally, we call the compensation for someone harmed "damages" - really the harms and losses someone now has because of negligence or malpractice, and these can vary depending on: how badly the person is injured, whether they can work, whether they need future medical and nursing care at home, and a number of other factors.
One of the factors we always look to is what types of services, therapies and resources can help the child now, and in the future. For example, a child who is developmentally delayed may benefit from early intervention, occupational therapy and neuropsychological testing and evaluation to determine the best way to maximize his or her potential. That will depend on the child's needs, of course, but we look for everything we can to get the money and resources that child needs.
So, we look at all of the future care and treatment available that will make the child's life better - additional nursing care if the child or young person can't care for themselves (and respite care for the family who often provide the majority of the nursing care), tutors, counseling, physical therapies. We work with experts to evaluate the child's needs and the cost to get the child everything he or she needs and work to prove it as an important part of the medical malpractice case against the doctor or hospital.
We've published resources on medical malpractice in DC, Maryland and Virginia for parents who are facing this issue. Please order a book, guide or report - they are free, helpful and written for you.
And like all parents, the people we work with just want the best for their child and family. So if you're strugling with whether or why your child was hurt by medical malpractice and want to learn more about what you can do about it to help your child's future, call us at (202) 393 - 3320.
If I file for workers' comp will it ruin my relationship with my employer?
You may not be sure what to expect when you file a workers' comp case with your employer after getting injured on the job. You may be nervous because the workers' comp system seems very adversarial against the injured worker (it is). You may not be sure what filing would mean for your relationship with your employer. Does that mean that your boss is upset at you for filing? Did this mean that you may be putting your job in jeopardy?
We counsel people on this all the time: your employer can't legally fire you because you are hurt on the job or on workers' comp. The relationship can seem confusing because you have to separate the employer from the workers' comp insurance company - and that's what we do.
We only deal with the insurance company, so we don't affect your relationship with your employer.
And while your boss and company may very well may be on your side (they may be totally in your corner) the decision isn't always up to them - they usually have a Fortune 500 insurance company providing the workers' comp benefits and making a lot of the decisions - the workers' comp insurance company calls the shots.
Do you think the workers' comp insurance company has your best interest in mind?
It is actually their duty (to their corporate shareholders) to undermine your case and limit your benefits - the less they pay you the more money they make.
Here is what you can be sure of:
1). Legally, your job is safe if you are on workers' comp: that doesn't mean that illegal firings don't happen, but in our experience they are rare. But, if you are let go due to a workers' comp claim you have grounds for an unlawful termination lawsuit.
Keep in mind, however, that if you are employed "at will" you can still be terminated for any legal reason - and let's face it, it's pretty easy for companies to come up with excuses on this these days. As long as you can't work in your regular job because of your injury, you should still get workers' comp benefits.
2). If you've been released to light duty and your employer offers you light duty within your restrictions, you have to try and take it. If you take it and you still can't do the work because of your injury, you should go back to the doctor and get certified that you cannot regular duty, or light duty. You may need to ask your doctor to write certain specifications into your disability note such as "cannot lift more than ten pounds" or "cannot sit for more than two hours at a time."
Remember, that your doctor may or may not have experience with workers' comp so you need to be your own advocate and ask directly for what you need.
3). You will need to do everything you can to get better before returning to work. This means sticking to your medical treatment and not trying to go back to work before you are ready (or your injury could worsen). This may mean vocational training if there is no light duty available for you. This may mean looking for your own work and reporting back on your search.
Some people have a very hard time adjusting to the idea that they may not be able to go back to work in the same capacity or at all. This is a very difficult transition that needs to be made sometimes, depending on the extent of your injury. But we can help you through it; we will help you understand the nature of your medical treatment plan, your vocational future, and your settlement options. A lot of this information and more can be found in the exclusive book written by nationally certified trial lawyer Frank Kearney about workers' compensation: written only for injured workers.
If you have been seriously hurt at work you really cannot afford to miss this book so order your free copy today. No cost or obligation.
And if you have further questions call us today at 202-393-3320 to speak with a live person today.
Can I Settle My Own Medical Malpractice Case?
Great question - one we get a lot. Here are the basic things to know about settling a medical malpractice case with a hospital in D.C.
First, how strong is your medical malpractice case?
The first factor to evaluate is the strength of your case - are you right about the medicine, the standard of care and causation, and do you have credible, well known (in the medical field or their specialty) experts testifying for you?
Evaluating and testifying experts are a critical factor in any medical malpractice case, whether you file the case in Maryland, D.C. or Virginia (sometimes you may have a choice of where to file the case). And that is one of the major things hospital risk managers and hospital lawyers look for in evaluating a case. They will send the case to be reviewed by their own chosen expert witnesses as well to see if they can get opposing opinions and to evaluate the medical aspects of the case - the standard of care, causation and the harms and losses to the patient.
Another important factor hospitals evaluate in any medical malpractice case are the legal damages - the harms and losses that the malpractice caused, and the cost of these, both in terms of financial costs and the changes to the patient's life. We believe this is such an important factor - it's the consequences of what happened to you and your family - that it should be addressed early in the case - first thing.
Call us today and we will send you our confidential intake form to tell us your story, or you can speak with an intake specialist at 202-393-3320.
We do things differently than most medical malpractice lawyers, so we have the patient evaluated by several experts to assess the future medical care and treatment and the cost of this, plus the person's functioning. These assessments include evaluating whether they will be able to work, whether they need modifications to their home and/or home health aides, and many other changes.
We want the hospital that caused these losses and damages to know the extent of the damage before the medical malpractice case is even filed - so they know it is a serious matter and can begin preparations to evaluate and ultimately settle the case.
So when we put our name on a case against a DC hospital or medical facility, they know it's a serious matter.
There are many decisions to make and factors to consider on whether any specific medical malpractice case will settle in DC, Maryland or Virginia and medical malpractice lawyers need to be thinking about these from the moment they first talk to you - at least that's the way we do it.
Medical malpractice cases take a long time to evaluate - there is a lot to do, so don't wait - get started today by ordering our free guide to medical malpractice cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Call to talk to us at (202) 393 - 3320 so we can get you the information you need to make the best decisions for you and your family. And if we think you can settle your own medical malpractice case, we will point you in the right direction.
All intakes are free and completely confidential, so what have you got to lose? Give us a call at 202-393-3320 to get started today.