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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How does a family survive medical malpractice?
When a hospital, HMO or doctors group does not follow established patient safety rules, the effects can be devastating for the patient. Many times, without warning, a loved one's life is now tragically altered. A previously healthy person needs around the clock care for his basic needs, cannot work, sometimes cannot even communicate with his family.
If you're faced with medical malpractice, what do you do?
Every family is different, of course. And in working with families for over 20 years in medical malpractice cases, we've seen many different responses - from divorce because the strain of caring for an adult child harmed by medical malpractice, to a father and kids pulling together and becoming closer after the death of a young wife and mom.
There are several things we discuss in great detail with the people we help.
First - it's not your fault. The guilt or feeling that you could have done something different is natural, and it's totally, completely wrong. You have no control over the actions of physicians, nurses, technicians, specialists or (as we see in medical malpractice cases over and over) the lack of systems the hospital, HMO or doctor's office has in place to prevent medical malpractice.
We all want to say we would have done something different - gone to a different hospital, chosen a different specialist, intervened with a busy doctor, etc. It's natural to think that after a serious injury happens to someone we love.
Second - it's not your family members fault. Look, its natural to blame others - to say "I told her not to take him to that hospital." Or I told him to take better care of himself, so he wouldn't need to go into the hospital in the first place.
Third - your whole family is exhausted. The physical strain of caring for someone who is disabled, a child, husband, wife or parent, is enormous. The physical and emotional stress of caring for another person's medical needs - medications, turning her at night to protect her skin, lifting him into and out of the car or from the bed to the wheelchair, and coordinating care is exhausting.
Finally (and few people will tell you this) the financial toll and the worry about money is profound. The medical costs and technolgy required just to keep your loved one comfortable are increasing every year. But Medicaid and other insurance (if you're eligible) are paying for less and less every year.
And you want the best for your loved one. And your family. And yourself. You need financial resources to do that.
Its a hard thing to come to terms with - the fact that a medical system you put your trust in caused this, that you didn't ask for this or do anything to bring this on yourself or your family. But here you are.
What is your next step?
The families we work with in medical malpractice cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia get a lot more than basic legal advice. Call us to talk confidentially about scheduling a strategy session to come up with a plan to help you and your family, and what we've done for other families harmed by medical malpractice in the DC area. If you're not ready to talk yet, order a guide or report we publish. We'll send it to you so you can learn more and make the best decisions for your family.
But don't wait. Because of how we work (we're different than other medical malpractice lawyers) we only accept a few cases at a time.
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage (or UIM) and Do I Need It?
What if I get hit by a driver without insurance?
All too often we see serious crashes on the Beltway. The question you should ask yourself is: “Am I really protected if I get hit by a driver without insurance?”
We recently settled a case for a gentleman who was hit by somebody who only had the D.C. legal minimum insurance coverage of $25,000.00 (Maryland and Virginia are similar - bad drivers are not required to have much insurance coverage). When he got hit by this driver cutting across 3 lanes of traffic, and needed surgery two weeks later, his medical treatment costs came out to be way more than that.
What would the good driver have done if he didn't have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)?
It's bad enough when you get hit in an accident that is not your fault; causing injury to you and your family and damaging your car. But what happens if you have significant medical needs and costs and can't work because of your injuries as a result?
Even though liability car insurance is mandatory in most states, not everybody who drives has it. And then consider the number of people who are driving around with the minimum amount of coverage. You and your family can't afford to take the risk.
Underinsured motorist coverage is optional insurance you can purchase that will cover you in the event you find yourself hit by a driver with little to no insurance coverage. UIM coverage is usually inexpensive, and once activated it will step in to cover your medical and other related expenses if you have been hit by somebody who is not insurance or underinsured.
If your UIM insurance policy limit is higher than that of the liabilty insurance of the person who hit you, the other driver is underinsured.
Do you have adequate UIM coverage? If not, call your insurance company today and increase your limits. Protect yourself and your family from the irresponsible drivers we see every day - just look around you at all of the people weaving in and out of traffic on the Beltway and 95, driving aggressively and on their phones.
And if you are in an accident, act quickly to protect your rights. Get proof of the other driver’s insurance, get the police report and contact your own insurance company. And give us a call at 202-393-3320. We'll send you The Ultimate Guide to Accident Cases in the DMV.
Or order your free copy right now and get started right away!
What are Developmental Milestones, and How Do I Know if My Child Is Hitting Them?
Developmental milestones are timeframes in which an infant or child should be learning to do certain things. Some examples of developmental milestones include rolling over, sitting up, walking, having words, forming sentences, and so on. And failure to hit certain milestones could be indicative of something called developmental delay.
Developmental delays are more than just being a bit behind. They could include long-term and prolonged "lagging" in gross (sitting up, holding her head up, crawling and walking are examples) and fine (dexterity) motor skills, as well as language. Developmental delays can be addressed by early intervention, but if they are substantial enough and/or turn into developmental disability, it may be a good idea to see if you child's delays are a result of medical malpractice.
Pediatricians, child neurologists, neuropsychologist, and other experts use developmental milestones as a tool to help diagnose cerebral palsy and other conditions. Most of the time it's parents and grandparents who sense something is wrong. It is also incumbent upon your pediatrician to be monitoring your child's development.
Medical malpractice during pregnancy or birth is typically a preventable injury sustained to the child's brain. Lack of oxygen, infection, or extreme prematurity can certainly cause a child to be developmentally delayed. Sometimes this can be diagnosed shortly after birth but other times the results of the injury are not evident until much later.
Parents may not know the true cause of their child's injury.
Many times, an injury to the brain means a person cannot control certain muscles, so it's important to assess your child's gross motor skills especially if you had a difficult or "high risk" pregnancy.
If your child has trouble with gross or fine motor skills talk to him or her doctor about it. And keep a journal of what your child can do and what he or she struggles with, plus take pictures or video. It will help you remember everything and give the best information to your doctor.
If you think your child is not meeting developmental milestones, it may just be that she is developing at her own pace. But if you suspect a birth injury or trauma or difficult labor played a part in causing developmental delay, take action to get all the information today.
Give is a call at 202-393-3320 if you have any questions about development delays. You can speak with a real person for no cost and no obligation. You can also request your free copy of our resource guide for special-needs children: Getting Everything Your Special Needs Child Deserves. Just give us a call today and we will put your free copy in the mail.
What Are the Five Myths to Bust with My Workers' Comp Claim?
You have a new workers' compensation claim, and already you may be feeling overwhelmed at the number of things that you need to keep straight. You have to organize your correspondence from the Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC). You have to organize your correspondence from the workers comp insurance company. You have to organize your medical records. Before you know it you have a lot of paperwork and you're not even sure what it all means.
And then, something happens. The employer files a Notice of Controversion and tells you that they no longer intend on paying your benefits. They don't really give you much of a reason: maybe something like contesting the extent of your injuries or something similar. Maybe it is in legalese and you don't get it at all.
You are frustrated, confused, and feeling fearful that you won't be able to pay your regular bills, let alone your medical treatment bills. But, you don't want to try and call an attorney because you think that you cannot afford one; or you think that you can handle this on your own.
There are 5 common myths to debunk in a workers' compensation claim. Myth Number 1: you fear that you cannot afford an attorney. The truth is that you can. At Donahoe Kearney, we don't get paid unless you get a settlement. Our payment comes at the end of your case: which means that we will be working without getting paid for as long as it takes to settle your case. And we work hard to get you a substantial settlement.
Myth Number 2: I can do this one my own. Some cases can be done all on your own. We actually have a "Do It Yourself" kit that we send to people who have small cases with no real issues (their injury is minor and they are back to work after a week or two). But for the most part you will need an attorney in order to navigate your case properly. Workers' compensation law is complicated and can be arcane. The system often makes it easier to limit the financial exposure of an insurance company and that means paying un-represented workers less in benefits and medical treatment.
Myth Number 3: My adjuster and/or nurse case manager is on my side. The truth is that the insurance adjuster and the nurse case manager both work for the insurance company. The priority of the insurance company is to limit their financial loss; which means that no matter how nice your adjuster may be he/she will still be looking for ways to pay you less and limit your medical treatment: that is their job. And remember, they have an army of doctors, nurse case managers, supervisors, and lawyers working against you from the moment you get hurt.
Myth Number 4: My insurance adjuster chooses my treating physician. Nope, not in Washington, D.C. No matter what they tell you, you get to choose your own treating physician.
Myth Number 5: My employer might fire me if I challenge them on workers' compensation. Again, no. In Washington D.C. the employer cannot fire you in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim.
Now that these myths have been debunked: here it what you should do if you have a workers' compensation claim. Give us a call at 202-393-3320 to speak with an intake specialist today for no cost and no obligation. Don't wait too long before you contact us about your case: it's far easier to manage a case from the outset, before mistakes are made, than it is to get a case back on track. We can do both, but you and your family will be better off to have your case reviewed right away.
Finally, order the premier book on DC workers' compensation: Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to DC Workers' Compensation. This is the book the insurance company does not want you to read. Our clients read this book so they can be educated about the process. So go ahead and order yours today by clicking here.
My Radiology Results Were Read Incorrectly. What Should I Do?
Radiology is the practice of taking and interpreting images of the body in order to determine things like bone fractures, cancer detection, herniated discs, deep-vein thrombosis, bone-density analysis, and other types of injuries, diseases and conditions. The role of the radiologist is critical in many types of diagnostics, treatments, and recoveries.
But hospitals don't always follow the rules of good medical treatment when it comes to analyzing results and communicating those results to the appropriate physician or treatment facility. And radiologists don't always follow the appropriate protocol to communicate imminent dangers that show up on the images. This is why we have a field of law called medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice law exists so that people who have been seriously affected by the negligence of a hospital, HMO, physician, or other types of medical personnel and facilities can be fairly compensated for the harms, expenses, and loss that results from this negligence. Hospitals, HMOs, doctors, and others in the medical field have to follow patient safety rules, which often means establishing and following systems, checklists and protocols to ensure that the level of care and medical treatment is appropriate for the patient's condition and is done in time.
Many times a test result can determine what type of treatment the patient needs; surgery for a tumor, anti-coagulation medications for blood clots, steroids for an auto-immune disorder, etc.
We have helped a family that lost a mom because of an undetected blood clot (pulmonary embolism) because the radiologist didn't properly communicate the life-threatening blood clot he saw to the primary care physician. We helped another family who lost their mom when the radiologist did not correctly interpret a scan showing a blood clot, as well as a 12 year-old who became paralyzed because his MRI wasn't interpreted until after he was discharged from the hospital (and they never called his parents with the results).
If your radiology results were interpreted incorrectly, or they weren't properly communicated to the physician who ordered the test, you may have a compensable claim if the mistake resulted in a serious consequence. If you're not sure, give us a call and we will talk to you about it and tell you what we think. We like to say: go with your gut. It's better to call and ask than to not call at all.
And remember, all cases have deadlines, so don't put it off.
You can reach us a 202-393-3320 or [email protected]
How Do I Know If It's Medical Malpractice?
At Donahoe Kearney we like to say "trust your gut." If you feel a serious injury or medical condition was caused by a medical mistake in a hospital, HMO or doctor's office, it is at least worth checking into it. There are common factors we see in medical malpractice cases, and you should know about these.
Most of the time your gut will tell you if a medical mistake was preventable. But just in case you need some confirmation, we recommend that you read our free report 7 Symptoms of Medical Malpractice.
Here's the digest:
1). No system for following up on test results;
2). Doctors not evaluating the patient;
3). Hospitals, HMOs and Doctors not telling the patient about alternative diagnoses, treatment, and therapies;
4). Doctors not having available all of the information because they aren't asking questions, reviewing your medical records, or listening to you;
6). Doctors not consulting the right specialists; and
7). None of these situations apply but your gut tells you something is wrong.
Do you think you may have been affected by a major medical mistake, or a preventable medical mistake? If you have a serious injury or medical condition and, call us today to get information you need and determine whether we can help. You will speak with a live person here in Washington, D.C.: no cost and no obligation. You can reach a real person today to discuss your case in full confidence at 202-393-3320.
What Happens if Another Company Causes My Injury at Work?
If you were injured on the job by a third-party contractor (that's just a fancy name for another company - one you don't work for, which is a reality in the District with third-party contractors being hired for all sorts of jobs) you may be wondering if you are entitled to both workers' comp benefits and be able to recover damages against the person or company that caused the accident or injuries. The answer, in short, is yes.
Contractors are not employees for your employer. They work for their own employer, and maybe they do a different job. A good example of a situation where contractors are employed is on a construction site.
Let's say you are plumber working for a plumbing company on an installation at a commercial construction site in D.C. Let's say a carpenter leaves a hole uncovered and unmarked and you fall into it; seriously injuring your knee and back. You should get workers' comp benefits because you were hurt on the job. But the carpenter's employer (the one who created the unsafe condition) was responsible. You have the right to hold that company accountable for the harm they caused you; and you don't need to choose between workers' comp and a case against this third party. You can do both.
That is how it works, and you see it all over the place in Washington, D.C. In the areas of construction and other job sites there is more opportunity for injury when contractors don't keep job sites safe. The risk of injury is higher with manual labor; more so than desk jobs. But even if you work a desk job, if you are hurt by someone who is not a co-worker, like a delivery person, or a car accident while you are driving to a work appointment, you have the same rights. If a person other than your employer was negligent and caused injury to you, they can be held personally liable, as well as liability extending to their employer.
Conversely, if you were injured due to the negligence of a fellow employee, you would only be able to recover workers' comp benefits. Workers' comp essentially covers that type of liability for your employer, so they cannot be sued.
At Donahoe Kearney, we've seen your situation many times and we have recently won a joint settlement for both workers' comp cases and a third-party liabilty case. If you have been injured on the job and you are wondering what might be your next steps, give us a call at 202-393-3320. You will speak to a real person today, for no cost and no obligation.
Or, email us at [email protected] and we will send you THE book on D.C. workers' compensation: the book the workers' comp insurance company does not want you to read! Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers' Compensation, now in it's 3rd Edition is THE premier book on the workers' compensation ins and outs in the District of Columbia. You won't want to navigate a workers' comp case without it! The best part is it's free to anybody who calls or emails our offices to request one.
What If My Doctor Recommends Surgery But the Insurance Company Says It's Not Necessary?
You may have seen in this profile that the insurance company doesn't always go according to the recommendation of your treating physician. In fact, in E.P.'s story you can see that he had to have two surgeries because the first one resulted in a serious condition called "frozen shoulder" and he struggled to get the second surgery authorized.
If the insurance company is refusing to authorize the recommendation of your treating physician, you should call an attorney. Often times the insurance company will hire their own doctor to examine you, who is paid by them and will most of the time find in favor of them. They call this exam an Independent Medical Examination, or IME.
We call it what it really is - an Insurance Medical Exam. You're not there for medical treatment and the doctor has no duty to you (most won't even talk to you - they'll say you just have to get the report from the workers' comp insurance company).
Sometimes the only way to get your treatment authorized is through filing for an informal conference (mediation) or a formal hearing. The informal conference is non-binding but might help to reconcile the differences between the two sides. If that doesn't work or for more serious adjudication issues, a formal hearing will result is a binding decision from an adjudication judge.
At Donahoe Kearney we use all of the process to your advantage: to pressure the insurance company to do the right thing, or have a judge order them to do the right thing.
There are no insurance company tactics, strategies, or tricks that we haven't seen (and we can see them coming and prepare you for them). We will do everything we can to make sure your treatment is authorized and that you are on the road to healing.
If you have been caught up in an IME battle or the workers' comp adjuster is denying or delaying your medical treatment after a serious work injury, give us a call at 202-393-3320 or email us at [email protected]. You'll speak to a real person today: no obligation and completely confidential
I Have a Serious Injury. What Is The Best Approach for My Pain Management?
A number of our clients with serious injuries at work or after a car crash ask about medical treatment and pain management. We help them get the treatment they need authorized and paid for by the responsible insurance company.
If you have a serious injury related to an auto or work accident, you may be looking at pain management options. Studies show that physicians are still prescribing painkillers for up to 40 percent of cases, and if you have chronic pain that might be the best route for you.
However, prescription pain meds carry a high risk of addiction and you may want to try a variety of other methods first to find out if your body will respond.
First, there is the old faithful: take an anti-inflammatory, rest and apply heat. If the body has been over-exerted it may just need time to repair itself. Give yourself the time and space to do so.
There are also topical treatments that might help to alleviate your pain, such as products like Mineral Ice and Biofreeze. Other methods designed to go straight to the source of the problem (for example, an injured knee or spine) could include epidural (steriod) injections, trigger-point (local anesthetic) injections, and acupuncture. These injections usually come in series' and can alleviate pain by dealing directly with the injured part of the body.
Another avenue a doctor might prescribe is a compound topical cream to use as a pain reliever. These compounds (created at the pharmacy) can be applied directly to the site of injury and don't have to travel through the bloodstream, which can lessen the risk of addiction over time.
Finally, for very serious injuries, like a torn rotator cuff, surgery might be the best option. Often times the pain management specialist will experiment to see if you respond to other types of treatment before recommending surgery.
Every case is different and your pain management path your own. At Donahoe Kearney we are not doctors, but we have been a part of the process for more than twenty years and have worked with doctors all over the DMV. We assist our clients with finding the best provider for their case and then making sure that treatment is approved and paid for.
If you have a serious injury and have questions about your treatment, give us a call today at 202-393-3320. You will speak with a live person who will try to get you the best information for your injury case; at no cost and no obligation.
My Child is Profoundly Disabled Due to Medical Malpractice. How Do I Find A Good Home Health Aide for Her?
Choosing a home health aide is an extremely important decision. You and your disabled child rely on the aide for feeding, bathing, and turning her; all of the things she needs when you can't do them.
First, do the legwork and the research; find a reputable company who employs the home health aides. Most public companies will have "review" applications on their website. If they don't, ask for a reference. Also, make sure that the agency in question does not have an adverse history when it comes to litigation. While settlements are often confidential, lawsuits are not. A simple google search comprised of "your agency + "lawsuits" should help you to confirm the reputation of the agency.
Next, meet the proposed aide. Take the time to write down the questions that you want to ask. Don't be afraid to ask about the aides' experience or qualifications and the specific care needs or care plan for your daughter. Find out why he or she does what they do. Take measures to determine their commitment to the job. Most of the time you can tell the difference between somebody who likes their job, and somebody who does not.
Finally, set forth your expectations for communication. Get into the habit early on of asking for a digest of the day. If your home health aide knows you will be wanting information, he or she might be more likely to take note and remember what goes on during the day. It's better to establish communication early on rather than try to enforce it later.
At Donahoe Kearney we strive to get the best possible settlement for your loved one who may have been hurt as a result of malpractice. We know that parents of disabled children have an overwhelming responsibility. That's why we wrote Picking Up the Pieces After Medical Malpractice: A Parents Guide; an informational book to help parents dealing with medical malpractice. To order your copy today click here or call us at 202-393-3320. No obligation, no cost.