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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Do I need a lawyer for my long term disability case in DC?
Yes. If your long term disability benefits are provided by your employer, they are probably governed by a federal law called ERISA. And there are a number of requirements under ERISA and your insurance policy that you need to understand, comply with and work through to give yourself the best shot at winning on appeal.
Because of that, this is one area of the law where it is very difficult to appeal your case after you get a letter denying benefits from your disability insurance company.
You need a lawyer who really understands how the appeals process works, the medicine, can work with experts and (most important) can work with you to help you tell your story.
Here are 5 red flags that tell you your lawyer doesn't understand long term disability cases:
1. In your first meeting or phone call, he needs to do some research (and may want to bill you for this) to explain how the process works, from the time you get the letter denying or terminating your benefits through the mechanics of what filing an ERISA disability lawsuit looks like.
2. He does not mention ERISA (the federal law that employer sponsored disability plans fall under) or doesn't know what it stands for.
3. Talks with you about whether to file a lawsuit in Superior Court (in D.C.) or some other state court, whether you will have depositions, be able to develop your case through discovery and go to "trial" and thinks you can sue the disability insurance company for bad faith or punitive damages to increase the amount of your award.
4. Doesn't tell you how and when to get the entire claim file from the insurance company, and why that is critical.
5. Doesn't tell you his plan for filing your appeal - what it should contain, how long it will be, how it will be developed and drafted, and how long it will take - or leads you to believe it is a simple matter of writing a letter saying you disagree with the insurance company's decision denying or terminating your disability benefits.
Don't risk everything you've worked so hard for because of a serious injury or illness - if you received a denial letter from the disability insurance company call us so we can review it for you and give you our thoughts on how to get started (this is both free and confidential).
Remember, under ERISA, you only have 180 days to appeal after you get the denial letter. So call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to get started.
How Do I talk to my Doctor About Long Term Disability?
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:
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 place where you break up fights, apprehend suspects, detain people and carry a firearm? Don't let your doctor guess about this.
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.
And remember – our How To Talk to Your Doctor Tips apply to all kinds of cases and situations! Just ask.
My child has Cerebral Palsy. A D.C. medical malpractice lawyer said it was not a case. Should I contact another lawyer?
For a serious injury like cerebral palsy you should ALWAYS have another lawyer review the case.
Absolutely. In any matter involving cerebral palsy or other significant damages, it makes sense to get a second opinion from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Most lawyers just don't have experience handling specific types of medical malpractice cases against hospitals, HMOs or doctors, such as birth injury or birth trauma cases involving hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or perinatal asphyxia, prematurity and other causes of cerebral palsy and developmental delays.
So they don't have the right experts, nursing consultants and medical researchers needed to determine whether your child's cerebral palsy was related to medical malpractice in DC.
And most experienced malpractice lawyers in DC, Maryland and Virginia will always recommend a second opinion if they cannot take a case because they know other lawyers may see things differently, and any child with cerebral palsy or developmental delays deserves that.
We always refer clients to other medical malpractice attorneys if we can't take their case. And we recently obtained a verdict of $6.5 million dollars for a young man with cerebral palsy whose mother came to us after other lawyers had told her they did not have a case. That case and the money we got for that young man changed his life, and his family's, forever. They now live in a fully accessible home they own, where he has the best care and is close to family and friends.
For us, that's what it's all about.
So if your child has cerebral palsy or other severe injuries from medical care, call us at (202) 393 - 3320 so we can share our philosophy and system of evaluating medical malpractice cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia. And you can order one of our free books, guides or reports to help get started today.
My husband was hurt in D.C. because another contractor (not his employer) was negligent. How long does he have to file a lawsuit?
My husband was hurt on a construction site in Washington D.C. because another contractor (not his employer) was negligent, and needed knee surgery. He received workers comp benefits under a Compensation Order. How long does he have to file a lawsuit against the subcontractor that caused his injury?
He has two years to file his case against the subcontractor who caused the injury.
Unfortunately, not many lawyers know that.
The subcontractor, or any company that is not his employer would be considered a Third Party. If you receive benefits under a Compensation Order in D.C., you have two years to file your case against the Third Party - and remember that could also be an individual person as long as he isn't a co-worker employed by the same company as your husband. If you don't receive those benefits under a Compensation Order, for example, the insurance company is voluntarily paying benefits, you have three years to file the case against the Third Party.
We see this a lot in our construction cases, and we represent a lot of construction workers. There is a lot of overlap in the two cases, and in order to maximize your recovery for your serious injuries, it's critical that you get a lawyer who specializes in both workers comp and serious injury cases.
Here's just one quick example - you need to make sure you know that settling the 3rd party case without the workers comp insurance company's approval could extinguish your right to workers comp benefits (in some cases those benefits are more valuable to you).
If you have any questions about whether you or someone you know has received benefits under a Compensation Order (its confusing, so you may not know) call us and we can talk about it. You can reach us a 202-393-3320 and there will always be a person available to do a free informational interview with you.
Why Don't You Have My Medical Records Yet?
It goes without saying that the process associated with a workers’ compensation case can be emotionally and financially strenuous. Because of your injury, you may be going without pay or only being paid a fraction of your typical salary. Your potential physical limitations, combined with the financial stress you may be experiencing, can be difficult to manage while trying to carry out the normal day-to-day tasks in your life. For this reason, it is natural to want your case to move along as rapidly as possible, and your attorney should want this for you as well.
Unfortunately, hospitals, insurance adjusters, and the general nature of legal procedures can make workers’ compensation cases take longer to resolve than you would like. In these cases, it is helpful to understand why something that you may see as quick and easy – like retrieving your medical records – can take quite a long time and delay the next step in your case.
Sometimes it can be incredible difficult for some patients – and those requesting records on their behalf, like a family member or lawyer – to retrieve their records. This process can be quite confusing and vary by hospital or medical center. Sometimes, there is no explanation at all from the hospital as to why your records haven’t been retrieved in a reasonable amount of time. And even when a hospital streamlines the process of initially requesting the records, it can often take four to six weeks (or more) for you or your lawyer to actually receive them. Your lawyer may call the hospital or medical center every day requesting an update or expediting of the records, but hospitals seem to operate on their own timeline, regardless of this pressure.
It is important to remember that the nature of this process can be frustrating and may seem unnecessarily time-consuming, but having a lawyer who is dedicated to following up for you – whether with respect to your medical records, insurance adjuster, or opposing counsel – is essential. If you are wondering if your lawyer is at fault for the lack of progress in your case, remember that many of the procedural steps that must be completed in order for your case to progress are out of their hands.
However, it is important to hire a lawyer who is dedicated to you and your case, and who is eager to take on all the hassles associated with your case so that you can heal as quickly as possible.
If you suspect that your attorney isn't following up on your records, or moving your case forward you should contact your attorney to confirm. If your attorney isn't prioritizing your case, that's a totally different issue.
And you can often speed up the process to retrieve your medical records by retrieving them yourself, and delivering them to your attorney. The medical facility will expedite the process for the patient, at times.
If you believe you have a workers’ compensation case or have questions about the process of getting the compensation you deserve, call us today at 202-393-3320.
We are happy to provide more information about D.C. workers’ compensation cases at no cost, and will even send you our signature book, Protect Your Rights, at no cost or obligation.
The Insurance Company Said There is a Time Limit to See a Doctor. Is That True?
My brother was in a car accident in Maryland where it was the other driver's fault. How long does he have to see a doctor for his injuries?
The insurance company said there is a time limit to see a doctor. Is that true?
When someone is hurt in an accident, there is no time limit to see a doctor or get medical care. But to recover for injuries caused by a negligent driver, the medical care and treatment must be related to the accident. Obviously, if it was a fender bender and your brother waited 9 months to see a doctor, that doctor's visit probably wouldn't be related to the accident.
The best advice is that if you're hurt, get checked out by a doctor to make sure the injuries are not more severe than originally thought.
Realistically, the insurance company (or a jury if your injuries are serious and your case goes to trial) will not believe you were hurt in the accident if you didn't get medical treatment in the ER or from a doctor soon after.
And if you have severe, life-changing injuries caused by a serious accident, those can require lifetime medical care and treatment. As far as the case against the other driver's insurance company is concerned, you don't have to actually get all that medical treatment before your case settles or goes to trial.
We see that all the time in our cases usually we hire experts, life care planners and physicians, to analyze the future medical care needs and examine you so they can testify about all of the medical care and treatment you will need in the future. So there is no time limit on the future medical care and treatment; the present value cost of the future medical care and medical expenses must be taken into account at the time of settlement or verdict.
Have you been in a serious auto accident in DC, Maryland, or Virginia? Call us today at 202-393-3320 - we can get you answers today.
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
What if My Company Doesn't Have Light Duty Work for Me?
What is light duty when you're on workers' comp in DC, Maryland or Virginia?
Before going back to work, the doctor can put you on light duty. Basically, he gives you restrictions that say you can do some activities, but not everything your job requires. Usually your doctor will say you can't lift over 20 pounds after a back injury, or no overhead work after a torn rotator cuff surgery, or no climbing ladders after a knee surgery. If you have any type of restriction from your work injury that prevents you from doing your regular job, and your company offers you work within those restrictions, that's light duty.
Did you know that sometimes light duty can actually help you recover more quickly, and get you back to work in shorter time? See how light duty can help you here.
But, what if your employer doesn't have light duty?
What should you do? Remember, light duty means that you're at work performing some duties (not the full duties of your job) and you are being paid accordingly. Also, remember, if you are earning less money than you were at the time you got hurt (and that's per week, not just your hourly rate) you should be getting workers comp checks to make up the difference while you're on light duty.
The simple way to calculate it is this: If you are getting paid the same per week (with overtime and bonuses calculated for your weekly wage) you will get a paycheck from your company again and you won't get any further workers' comp benefit.
Here's how it works: if you're making less money on light duty because you are working less hours or can't do overtime like you used to, your workers comp benefits would be 2/3 of the difference between your wages at the time you got hurt and the new light duty job. These benefits are called Temporary Partial Disability benefits.
Light duty doesn't stop you from getting your disability benefits, but if you're offered light work duty work within your restrictions and you turn it down, the workers comp insurance company can stop or reduce your benefits. (And you should bet they will).
Here's the best part - where a lot of people get mixed up: IF your company doesn't offer light duty work, they have to continue to pay your full workers compensation rate.
Many construction companies do not have light duty in the trade. So, even though a doctor may say you can return to some work with restrictions, until you are cleared to return to full duty, your workers' comp benefits should continue at the full rate. So it is really important to get a note or disability slip from your doctor indicating any restrictions or limitations you have because of the work injury.
Workers' comp check coming late?
Click here to see what to do. We know that just because the workers' compensation check is late, it doesn't mean that you can pay your bills late, so here's the answer to another common question involving workers comp benefits and light duty.
You're probably under a lot of stress due to the uncertainty - most people are - because how can you know what or how much you should be getting, or how to get the best medical care for your injuries, or what type of benefits you can get in the future?
Don't worry - we help you with all that.
Still not sure? It's a complicated and confusing system that favors insurance companies. Remember, the insurance company has a team of specialized adjusters, lawyers, doctors, nurses, case managers - all working against you (that's their job, and they're good at it) from the moment you get hurt.
So just call us at 202-393-3320 and you will speak with a real person who wants to hear your story. We make time to answer questions about work injuries in D.C., Maryland and Virginia every week and we'd love to hear from you.
My Doctor Prescribed Me the Wrong Drug. What Should I Do?
Prescription Drug errors can come in many forms.
And, they are more common than you think. Here's what can happen..
1). Your doctor simply prescribed you the wrong drug for your condition.
2). Your doctor prescribed a dose that was too low or too high for your specific problem.
3). Your doctor prescribed you a drug you're allergic to (and they have your allergy information on file).
4). The pharmacist mislabeled the drug you've been given so you don't know of side effects.
5). Your doctor prescribed a drug that doesn't interact well with the other drugs you've been prescribed.
All of these mistakes can cause injuries - sometimes minor, sometimes major, and sometimes even fatal. And all of these injuries are preventable. You'd be surprised at how easy some of these medical errors are to make - when it comes to dosage, for example, a wrongly placed decimal point can mean 100 times too low or too high a dosage for a patient. Of course, this could be a serious issue.
And that's why hospitals, pharmacies and doctor's offices need systems in place to prevent medical mistakes. Many times, medical malpractice cases turn on whether the system failed - or there was no system at all to prevent harm to the patient.
So, if you feel you've been prescribed the wrong drug, there is plenty you should do. First, contact your doctor or health care provider and inquire about the prescription. Take note of the side effects you are having (and not having), and let your health-care provider know if you are not getting better.
Keep a copy of the prescription and the medication you were given. You'll want to show this to your doctor so he or she knows exactly what you have taken and how much.
Follow the instructions and if something doesn't seem right, especially if you are on a long term medication for a serious disease or illness, get medical attention right away.
Hopefully, most medication mistakes, or the wrong prescription, will be caught before the patient is harmed. But if a medication error causes you serious harm, how do you hold the pharmacy, doctor or hospital accountable?
If you've been seriously injured by a medical error like these in a DC, MD or VA hospital, make sure to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney so that you can start getting all of the information you need to hold the physician or pharmacy accountable.
Call us today at 202-393-3320 to have a confidential conversation with one of our attorneys about your issue today.
My ERISA Long-Term Disability was Denied by Unum. If I Win My Case, What Damages Can I Get?
What does winning your long term disability claim mean?
Usually, long term disability insurance policies are purchased by your employer and provided to you as an employment benefit. And any claim under the policy is covered by a federal law (ERISA - the Employee Retirement Income Security Act).
And the policy is supposed to provide coverage, or a benefit, usually 60% of your income, if you can't work because of a medical condition or injury. As a practical matter, ERISA and the court decisions on ERISA long term disability claims, favor the insurance companies, and this leads many of them to deny your claim for benefits, or terminate your benefits before you can go back to work.
So you may have to appeal your case. And if that appeal (which is decided by the same insurance company that decided to terminate or deny your long term disability claim) then your next step is to file a lawsuit in federal court.
And if you win your case in federal court, it could be a couple of years later, and you haven't been receiving benefits during that time. What if you had to cash out investments, liquidate your 401K, or sell your house? You certainly have other losses besides what the disability insurance company owes you.
So can you recover those other items of damage in a case against the disability insurance company?
Unfortunately, the answer is that under most group long-term disability insurance company policies, you cannot recover anything other than the past-due benefits you have been fighting so long for. In some cases, you may be able to recover attorney's fees (if the judge agrees to award that). But you can't get damages like you can in other cases - for pain and suffering or emotional distress for example.
So why are we telling you this? Sounds like bad news.
Well, this gives the disability insurance company a powerful incentive to deny your claim. They know that there are no punitive damages the judge will award, and even if they lose, they won't have to pay you anything other than what they owe you.
Sometimes, this attitude leads disability insurance companies to drag things out - so you settle your case for a lot less. And that's one of the reasons it is critical to focus on your appeal with your long term disability lawyer - that appeal is the critical step in your case.
If you’ve received a letter denying your long term disability benefits call us at (202) 393-3320 to see if we can help. We'll start by reviewing that denial letter, in confidence and at no charge, and give you our thoughts on your next steps.