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.
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I was injured in a car accident on the Beltway and hurt my back. Recently, my orthopedic doctor diagnosed sciatica. What is sciatica?
Sciatica is also called lumbar radiculopathy and its basically numbness, tingling and pain that goes from the low back into the buttock, hip, or down to leg into the toes depending on the severity. Sometimes you may hear it called a "pinched nerve."
It is caused by impingment, pressure or irritation of the nerves in the spinal area. This can be due to herniated or bulging disks, or injuries to the muscles or ligaments in the spine.
Many of our clients have experienced sciatica from trauma, such as in a car accident, or due to a sudden bending and twisting force, such as lifting something heavy at work.
It can be a serious condition, so we tell all of our clients to get the medical treatment from the appropriate medical specialist. And if it was caused by a car accident or work injury, take the steps to protect your legal rights.
We can talk through your specific rights. Just call us at (202) 393-3320.
Are you automatically going to get workers' comp benefits after you've been hurt at work?
We deal with a lot of different workers when handling workers' compensation cases. A number of the workers we work with are construction workers, but many others are nurses, mechanics, office workers, drivers, installers, pro athletes - you name it. And many of our clients ask us whether you automatically get workers comp benefits after you've been hurt at work.
The answer is no.
You probably should, but you may not.
So here's the basic definition covering workers compensation in D.C.
An injured worker must be an employee as defined by the D.C Workers' Compensation Act and prove an employer-- employee relationship existed at the time of injury. There are two basic tests for whether an employer-employee relationship exist. The "right to control" test analyze whether the employer has the right to hire and fire the employee, to tell him or her what to do and where and how to do it (controlling the work),as well as how the employee is paid, for example whether the employee is paid salary, hourly, or by the job, and whether taxes are withheld. The "relative nature of the work" just means that the work performed is part of the overall business of the employer.
And the injury must happen in the course and scope of the employment.
That is, there must be a connection between the injury and the work performed. Whether the injury is on a construction site, sitting at a desk or while installing cabinets in a doctor's office. Generally, an employee is considered to be in the course and scope of his employment if he is "on the clock" during work hours, performing work for his employer or at the place of employment when he gets hurt.
Remember, in the District of Columbia, an aggravation of a prior condition is considered a compensable work injury. For example, a worker with a bad back that has been asymptomatic may pick up a piece of equipment and "aggravate" that underlying condition-- causing symptoms that keep him out of work.
Injuries can occur anytime and anywhere while the employee is at work. A person typing at a desk can develop carpal tunnel and may not be able to do their job properly-- if that is what their job mainly consists of. As long as the injury happens while the employee is "on the clock", they may be eligible for workers' compensation.
In over 20 years of handling work injury cases (at first for insurance companies) I've seen the law and system get more complicated - more rules, more traps, more litigation - even experienced trial lawyers often won't represent legitimately injured workers because they don't know the system. And the insurance company lawyers you'll be up against have defended hundreds or thousands of cases like yours (I should know).
Don't make a mistake with your workers comp case - a mistake that could cost you and your family thousands or tens of thousands (or even more) in benefits and medical treatment.
Order one of our free guides - you can download 5 Mistakes That Will Absolutely Kill Your Workers Compensation Case right now to get you started and then call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to see if we can help at least make sure you are on the right track.
How, why and when should you sue for malpractice in DC, Maryland, and Virginia?
How, Why and When you should sue a doctor or hospital
for medical malpractice in Washington, D.C.
We think that before you sue a doctor or hospital for malpractice, you, or someone in your family must be catastrophically injured - that means:
A) you need lifetime medical care and treatment for your injuries or medical condition, B) you can't work and C) you (or someone in your family) can't do many things the rest of us take for granted.
So, why do we start with your medical condition before we ask other questions?
The reasons we start here,
with your injuries and medical condition (and most of the best medical malpractice lawyers do) are important:
- We need to understand your medical condition so we can determine how best to help you, what you need and what you want.
2. A medical malpractice case is difficult, expensive and time consuming (most people don't know that hospitals and doctors win most of the time), so we need to make sure you will have a good chance of getting what you want out of the case.
3. Minor injuries are not worth it (for you and for us) - you will spend more than you will recover.
If you've had a devastating injury or death in the family because of medical mistakes, what is the next step?
Click here for more information OR simply call us at 202-393-3320
How much is my workers’ compensation case worth?
Determining How Much Your Workers Comp Case is Worth
If you have been injured at work and are going through the process of filing a claim, you have taken the first step in advocating for yourself and making sure that you get the compensation and medical treatment you need. However, as you will soon find out, this can be a lengthy, time consuming and stressful process.
If you hope to settle your claim, meaning that your weekly payment schedule would stop and you would instead agree on a lump-sum or regular schedule of compensation with the workers comp insurance company, a lawyer can be particularly useful - in fact, with any serious injury, it would be crazy to try to settle the case yourself.
First off, knowing how much your weekly compensation should be is fairly straightforward – it is two-thirds of your average weekly wage over the past 26 weeks for workers in Washington, D.C. - and it includes all of your work during that time, including a second or third job. However, knowing how much to settle your workers comp claim for is a different story.
Your settlement can depend on whether you have incurred a permanent injury that stops you from working entirely in the future or a partial permanent injury that required surgery or will permanently prevent you from functioning in the same way you did before the injury. There are a lot of other factors to consider as well - how much you were earning before the injury, how much you can earn after the injury (if you can work at all) and how you can prove that, plus your age, education level, background, training, skills, medications you need to take (and their effect on you), medical treatment you need - all of these factors and more need to be analyzed.
Any settlement should be the best thing for you - and that will vary depending on what you want and need - we spend a lot of time with you getting this right because every person is different and this is not one size fits all.
Settlements are helpful in that they give you a guaranteed monetary award as compensation for your injury and they let you move on with your life - you know it's going to be OK and you don't have the stress and anxiety of the case hanging over you. Of course, if you wish to proceed with litigation, the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer is also essential, but it can be harder to predict what the outcome will be - settlement gives you control. In litigation, the result is up to a judge, and out of your control.
Laws in different states regarding workers’ compensation vary quite a bit, so it is important to hire a lawyer who is an expert in your area. We deal with countless cases involving workers’ compensation in D.C. and can help you get the compensation you deserve, and help you determine whether its best to settle or not. Though it is hard to quantify what your settlement might look like in the beginning of your case, we work hard with you to set the case up, right from the start, to maximize the benefits or settlement you'll ultimately get.
If you believe you have a case or have questions about workers’ compensation cases in D.C., call us at 202-393-3320. There’s no obligation associated with calling, and we are happy to send you our signature workers compensation book, the only one of its kind, written by a nationally Board Certified trial lawyer, at absolutely no cost to you.
Have You Seen This Version of Lunch Atop a Skyscraper?
There’s a cool mural on the corner of 19th and Pennsylvania, I don’t think I had ever seen the “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” photograph. If I did, it was a long time ago and I didn’t remember anything about it.
I love history, and I was immediately rewarded for my quick Google search with lots of information about “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper.” As it turns out, these men were building out the Rockefeller Center complex in the 30s and the photograph portrays them having lunch more than 800 feet in the air above the City of New York.
Or so it would seem.
There is a dispute surrounding the actual circumstances, but it seems widely accepted that “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” was a staged photography event designed to promote the new Rockefeller Center. Images of photographers up there, also taking crazy risks, seem to support this theory.
It has also been said that the men on the beam (with no fall protection, mind you- fall protection wasn’t a thing back then) were actually just a few feet above with a landing that was just below the frame of the photograph.
I’m rather anxious to believe that wasn’t the case.
To me, the men in this picture represent a generation of men who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Who weren’t afraid to do the heavy-duty work. I like to wax nostalgic about a time when the people who worked the hardest got the jobs. Because, history says there weren’t that many to go around.
I would love to believe that they were a group of men unafraid and unaffected, sitting atop that beam, 840 feet in the air. Having lunch. Drinking liquor at noon. Smoking cigarettes. There were many immigrants but no politics. Just men, getting the job done.
In the individualized world we are now living in, it’s reassuring to reference a time when people just got the job done for the purpose of getting the job done. And had a little fun scaring people with their death-defying antics along the way.
But this mural depicting the famous photograph really caught my attention. Only about 500 feet from our office, I had barely noticed it when it appeared a few months ago, seemingly out of nowhere. At the time I had thought to myself “oh, that’s a nice yellow painting” but didn’t crane my neck to see that it was 8 women on a narrow metal beam, in hues of red, yellow, blue, and orange.
So today, I climbed atop the concrete wall and looked at it – really looked at it.
The first thing I noticed about the mural is that the women were all oriented toward one another, which I think is a heartwarming way to portray women in the workplace. As opposed to the original photograph where the men are mostly oriented parallel to one another, these women are clearly engaged, talking, touching a shoulder. They are dressed in different professional and trade wear and they are different ethnicities. Connected. On the same team.
The artist (find out who it is) did a really good job of portraying modern women in the workplace, who can do or be anything, without making any overtly political statements or sending any strident messages.
It made me feel proud to be a woman in the workplace – certainly in a different time and place then the “Lunch atop a skyscraper” men, and serving a different purpose. Yet still American. Still New York City. Or Washington, DC. Still getting the job done and taking pride in getting the job done.
Come check it out and let me know what you think!
How Do I Talk to My Doctor About Long Term Disability?
Your treating physician, or any doctor who has treated you for the injury or illness that caused your disability, is critical to a successful ERISA long term disability claim. But how and when do you get your doctor involved?
First - you have to read the disability insurance policy (this is the answer to a lot of long term disability claim questions...) to determine exactly how it defines disability. Chances are, your doctor has a different definition of disability or thinks of the term "disability" differently.
Does disability mean you can't do any work at all? Does it mean you can't do critical functions of your job? Does it mean you can't do the essential functions of your job? How long does it have to last? Is there a medical condition that may be excluded?
We talk to a lot of physicians and experts for our clients, and most treating physicians do want to help their patients.
But they don't know the answers to these types of questions. And without knowing that, they can actually hurt your case, even though you are legitimately disabled and can't work due to a serious injury or medical condition.
There are several things to keep in mind when talking to your doctor about your long term disability claim:
1. Doctors are busy - really busy. You may need to request and pay for extra time to see your doctor and discuss your condition because a routine visit may not give you enough time.
2. You need to give your doctor all of the important information (obviously this includes telling him the complete truth about your condition and limitations you have, but it's more than that). This may be reports of other doctors you've seen, Functional Capacity Evaluations, testing results, physical therapy evaluations. You can't assume that your doctor has seen these records or has all of this information.
3. Your doctor may need your job description - you can't assume he or she knows all of the physical aspects of what you do at work. Here's an example: Are you a security guard? Does that mean you sit at a fancy D.C. office lobby watching people swipe their fobs when they come back from lunch? Or does it mean you are a security guard at a site where you break up fights, apprehend suspects, detain people and carry a firearm? Don't let your doctor guess about this.
What if you have several medical conditions that prevent you from working, and you also have a condition that is excluded by your policy?
It's hard to talk to doctors and medical specialists - they're busy and would rather be practicing medicine than filling out forms and writing reports. But it's important to get your doctor all of the information, so it's in your medical records and you can use it in your long term disability claim.
Have you received a letter saying your long term disability benefits were denied or terminated? We'll review that at no charge and give you our thoughts on what you need to do next - but get it to us quickly, because there are harsh, unforgiving time frames to file an ERISA long term disability appeal.
Just call (202) 393 - 3320 to arrange to get it to us.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer to Deal with my Car Accident?
Why do I need a lawyer for a car accident?
If you were injured in a car accident, it may feel like the individual at fault for the accident and their insurance company have immediately jumped into action to try to lessen their financial or legal responsibility for the accident in any way possible. It can be scary to deal with this on your own. Insurance adjusters may try to bully you into unfair agreements or to place blame for the accident onto you. For these reasons, it is important to hire a lawyer quickly who will make sure that you are meeting the aggression of the insurance company with forceful efforts to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve.
In addition to advocating for you, a lawyer will help you to understand your rights and will ensure that insurance companies aren’t misleading you, making false claims, or using complex technical and legal language as a means of confusing you into accepting a settlement that is less than what you are owed.
As this article explains, it is likely that after a car accident, you will have incurred numerous unexpected expenses such as car repairs, doctor’s office visits, or missing work. A lawyer will work to make sure that your settlement accounts for all of these factors, along with compensation for your suffering and other intangible effects of the accident. Even if you don’t file a lawsuit, it is important to have a lawyer available to help you navigate the often complicated process of reaching a settlement agreement.
Choosing a lawyer who genuinely cares about you and your case, has a track record of success in car accident cases, and clearly understands how to fight and win against big insurance companies is invaluable in making sure you end up with the best outcome possible. It wasn’t your fault that you were injured, and you should never be bullied by an insurance company that simply doesn’t want to award you compensation that you are owed.
Having a lawyer by your side as your tireless advocate will help you to focus on healing. You shouldn’t have to deal with the stress of navigating complicated legal proceedings. Leaving that responsibility in the hands of your lawyer will help you recover more quickly and return to the normal life that you are accustomed to.
If you are the victim of a car accident and are seeking legal representation, don’t hesitate to call us today at 202-393-3320. Whether you are hoping to file suit, reach a fair settlement, or simply would like more information about the work that lawyers like us do to help car accident victims, we would be happy to help you get started. We have years of experience dealing with car accident cases and are happy to share our knowledge with you at no obligation to you – in fact, we don’t get paid unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
What Does "Liability" Mean in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
How Do I Know if my Doctor is "Liable" in DC, Maryland, or Virginia?
As a patient, you trust your doctor to take the care of you with the utmost diligence, regardless of the severity of any health issues you may have. However, we know that sometimes doctors make mistakes. While we all hope that these mistakes are innocent and harmless, terrible things can happen if a doctor is negligent. Regardless of whether they intended to harm you, doctors and hospitals may be held responsible for any injury they have caused you.
It’s scary to think that even in routine procedures – such as this ACL surgery done on a high school senior that led to his death – things can go wrong. But if you’ve experienced wrongful injury as a result of a doctor or hospital, you know that it is possible, and you understandably want to hold someone responsible for the pain you’ve been forced to deal with.
If you’re looking to file a lawsuit against a doctor or hospital, you’ll need to be able to prove that the medical treatment you received fell below an appropriate standard of care and is the cause of your injury. Though it isn’t your job to create the legal argument in your case – that’s your lawyer’s job – it is helpful to understand the general framework of how your lawyer will help you to prove that the hospital or doctor whom you are suing is liable.
First of all, it must be clear that a “doctor-patient relationship” existed – this just means there must be a record of the fact that the doctor at hand provided some sort of treatment to you. The more difficult point to prove, however, is that the doctor did not treat you with a reasonable standard of care.
This can be shown by calling experts in the field – like other doctors or nurses – to testify about what they and other doctors might have chosen to do while treating you if they were in your doctor’s shoes. Then it must be made clear that your doctor not only acted inappropriately, but that the wrongful decisions they made are the central reason that you were injured, and it must be evident that those injuries you incurred are negatively impacting your life.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to a doctor’s or hospital’s negligence, you probably expect that your case meets each of these standards pretty obviously, since you witnessed the entire situation first-hand. The tricky parts of medical malpractice cases are getting expert witnesses and ensuring that there is enough evidence – legally this is called a “preponderance of evidence" – to back up the claim that a doctor’s negligence caused your injury can be difficult in some cases.
The intricacies of malpractice cases may seem overwhelming, but that’s not what you should worry about – that’s where your attorney comes in.
The most important thing you can do is reach out to a lawyer who can help you figure out how to best move forward with a lawsuit. Medical malpractice cases can be heartbreaking, and it is important to find an attorney who can assess your case properly, and will fight for you to get compensation and resources that you need to continue on with your life.
We work tirelessly to help people of all ages and walks of life who have experienced all sorts of injuries as a result of medical malpractice. If you’re wondering if you have a case, call us at 202-393-3320. There’s no risk or obligation for calling, and we don’t get paid unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
Can You Work And Get Long Term Disability Benefits in D.C.?
First, remember that, most likely your long term disability policy and claim are governed by ERISA, a federal law. And if so, your insurance company has a lot of discretion in this complicated process - including how and why they deny your claim.
But with the right guidance, advice and arguments, you can file a well researched, thorough appeal with persuasive medical evidence, vocational evidence, and the right arguments to get that decision reversed - I am not talking about a letter that says "I hereby appeal your decision" or a form you fill out. I'm talking about the entire start to finish appeal process we customize for every person we work with.
Now, any work can end your disability claim, so you have to be careful. And disability benefit insurance companies will use any kind of work or work-related activity as a basis for denying or terminating your long-term disability benefits - including volunteer work, helping someone else with a business, or any kind of business type activity.
And this sucks because even though you're not fully recovered from your serious injuries or illness and can't go back to working full time, you want to do something.
So if you are getting long term disability benefits and are thinking about going back to work, you should take 3 important steps: 1) review and analyze your long term disability insurance policy - the whole policy, not just a summary or the terms and conditions, etc., 2) make sure your doctor supports this, and 3) don't hide this from the insurance company.
Analyzing Your Long Term Disability Insurance Policy
There are two important distinctions of the periods of time that apply in most long term disability policies, governed by the definitions (under your policy - not dictionary definitions) and these are called “own occupation” and “any occupation”. For the “own occupation” period, that means you qualify for disability benefits under the policy if your injuries or illness prevents you from performing the primary duties of your own job, and usually this lasts for 24 months, but review your policy to make sure. The "any occupation" period means that you cannot do any work because of your injuries or illness - in any field, not just your own.
Proving you cannot work in any occupation usually requires a lot of work to formulate the medical, vocational and other specialty evidence you need to support this and is a critical part of the appeal.
Here are a few other related terms that may be in your policy that you will need to understand:
How does the policy define Total Disability and Partial Disability - what does each term mean?
How does the policy define and deal with what are sometimes called "other Income” offsets, for example, social security disability or workers comp benefits, which reduce your disability benefits if you get these?
Does your policy have requirements or Incentives to work or participate in vocational rehabilitation or re-training programs?
Talking with Your Doctor About Your Activities and What You Can Physically Do After an Injury or Illness
When you feel like you are ready to try to return to work, your doctor should be involved in your decision. It's important that you meet with your doctor and he or she understand the physical requirements of your work and examine you before you try to go back to work.
Your doctor should be able to document any restrictions and limitations you have from the injuries or illness, including how much you can lift or carry, how long you can stand, how long you can sit, and how long you can work overall during a day or week. Have your doctor write a report on note in your chart that details all of the restrictions, limitations, time limits, etc. that apply and then release you for a light duty or trial to return to work to see if you can do it.
You want this because you can't know going in to it whether you can return to work, full time in the same capacity - you may or may not be able to do it. If the doctor just says you can work, with nothing more, it's going to be harder to prove you can't work if you try to go back but can't consistently do the job.
Document Everything with the Insurance Company
Let your disability insurance company know you are going to attempt a trial of going back to work and give them the medical support for the modified duty, restrictions, limits on the amount of time you can work, etc. that you and your doctor formulated.
Once you're earning any income, of course you want to report this and the insurance company should reduce (offset) your long term disability benefits to account for the money you are making now.
And follow up with your doctor - if there are things that you cannot do at work because of your injuries or illness, if you can't work as long, if your job duties have changed and are more physical than you expected - those are all examples of wat you want to pay attention to and document.
And if you've received a denial letter, call us at (202) 393 - 3320. We'll review that for you (free of charge) and give you our thoughts on your next steps. And remember, the appeal you file to that denial letter is absolutely critical to your ERISA long term disability claim - it is probably the only evidence a federal judge will use to decide your case if you have to file a lawsuit, and you only get one shot at it.
How Much is My Workers' Comp Case Worth in DC, Maryland and Virginia?
Most people don't know that there is often a settlement at the end of a workers' comp case in Washington, D.C.
When people get hurt at work, especially with heavy-duty jobs, they aren't thinking about five years down the road.
They are asking these key and nerve-racking questions:
1. What will happen to my job?
2. How am I going to provide for my family?
3. How long am I going to be out of work?
4. What happens if I can't go back to work?
5. What happens if my job doesn't offer light-duty?
All of these things are immediate and completely legitimate concerns. Most people don't know that if you have the right attorney and if you follow the rules, you could be in for a settlement that will help allay your fears, both for the short-term and the long-term.
Unfortunately however, many people get so hamstrung by their short-term concerns that they sabotage their long-term prospects.
Here are a few ways that people do this:
1. They don't follow doctor's orders and go back to work before they are healed.
2. They commit fraud on workers' comp by taking a side job under the table because their benefits are delayed or denied.
3. They simply don't get medical treatment.
4. They blithely follow the recommendations of their insurance adjuster, not understanding that they adjuster's job is to limit their benefits and rush them back to work before they are cleared by their doctor.
5. They sign up quickly with what we call a "mill" attorney who will sign them up without reviewing their medical records, and then "run them through the mill," without paying particular attention to their case.
There are all kinds of unintended consequences that come from making these hasty, anxiety-driven choices. You could sabotage your settlement a year from now by not getting proper medical treatment. You could sign up with an attorney who isn't really invested in fighting for your benefits. (I could write an entire book just on things I've heard from clients who started with mill attorneys and came to us later). You could fall into the trap that the insurance adjuster has laid and wind up not being authorized for medical treatment.
That's why it's so critical that if you have a serious injury that will prevent you from working and you might need surgery down the road, do your due diligence and hire the right attorney. Check out their reputation online - do they have any five-star reviews on Google? Have they written and published any free materials that will educate you on the process? Do they investigate your case before signing you up for representation?
If the answer is "no" to any of these questions don't walk - run. It's better to sacrifice a little time and deal with the anxiety for a short period while doing your due diligence to hire the right lawyer than to hire the wrong one and put your future in the hands of someone who doesn't really care about your case.
Especially if you are a high wage-earner and/or require surgery. The insurance adjusters are going to be doing everything they can to shut down your case because you are going to cost the insurance carrier a lot of money.
Do your due diligence with us - and I can answer the first three questions for you. Yes, we have 43 5-star reviews from clients, former clients and people we have helped over the phone. Yes, we have a suite of free books, guides, and reports that you can order free of charge to get educated on the system and make an informed choice. Start with "Protect Your Rights" and go from there. Yes, we investigate our cases before signing them up, so please be prepared to send over your medical records if you want us to review your case.
There's no cost or obligation to having your case reviewed by us but you can suffer heavy consequences if you sign up too quickly with another lawyer. Don't just take our word for it - call us today at 202-393-3320. If you have your medical records ready to be reviewed you can be guaranteed that one of our well-trained paralegals will review them and let you know what they think your next steps might be within a few business days.
But you've got to be okay with waiting. If you have a serious injury, it will be more than worth it.
Call us today at 202-393-3320.