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'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.
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.