Answers to Medical Malpractice, Workers Comp, Long Term Disability Insurance, and Car Accident Questions

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At Donahoe Kearney, we believe it's important to empower through education. Here are some of the questions people have when they first contact us about D.C., Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, serious car accidents, long term disability insurance claims, 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.

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. Call us today at 202-393-3320.

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  • Is there a book that tells me what I need to do in my D.C. workers compensation case?

    You came to the right place to find out what you need to do to get started with your D.C. workers compensation case.  After a serious work injury, you will get lots of misinformation from many sources.  The insurance company will send you forms to sign.  Your job may tell you one thing.  A friend or relative may tell you what he did when he got hurt on the job. 

    Many times, the advice and information you get (even from a lawyer) is wrong.  And it will hurt your case.

    What do you do? It can be overwhelming, confusing and you don't want to make a mistake or get taken advantage of.

    That's why I wrote Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers Compensation. 

    Early in my career, I represented insurance companies and large employers.  And I learned a few things.  First, from the moment you get hurt at work, the insurance company has lawyers, doctors, nurse case managers, adjusters and investigators working against you.  It sounds harsh, but the insurance company has a duty to make money for its shareholders - and they do that by limiting the amount of benefits and medical treatment injured workers should get.

    It may not be fair, but that is the reality.

    This book explains it all - what to do when you first get hurt on the job, how and where to file a claim (and filing for workers comp benefits in another state could literally cost you hundreds of dollars every week - insurance companies know that) choosing your own doctor and many other practical topics.

    Best of all, it's not a bunch of legalese or boring history of the workers comp system (who cares?).  Instead, this book is straightforward, easy to read and practical.  And even better, it is FREE to any worker or family member hurt in the D.C. area (including Virginia and Maryland).

    Have a question or issue that can't wait? Call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 and we'll do our best to answer it for you.  We set aside time every week to answer questions.  But don't wait - those times fill up fast.

  • How can I get information on medical malpractice in D.C.?

    Medical malpractice - when a doctor, hospital or HMO violates a patient safety rule and injures a patient - can take many forms and be caused by many types of medical mistakes or errors.

    There are certainly common patient safety rules that we see violated in our medical malpractice cases.   But if you are looking for information on what a medical malpractice case is, how these cases are investigated, how you determine whether a doctor violated the standard of care (basically a patient safety rule) to help you and your family after a serious injury or medical condition, we have a number of guides, books and reports that can help.

    Based on our experieince helping patients affected by medical malpractice for over 20 years, we've published resources you can read in the privacy of your own home to give you information you can use to make the best decisions for your family.  Here are a few of the resources we offer to people who have been affected by the medical system:

    Have a child with special needs?  Order a copy of Getting Everything Your Special Needs Child Deserves: A Parent's Guide to Resources for help finding resources for special needs kids in the D.C. area.

    If your son or daughter was affected by medical malpractice, read our short guide Picking Up the Pieces: A Parent's Guide to Medical Malpractice for practical tips, advice and explanations.

    And for a report you can download right now to help you recognize and prevent medical errors before they happen, go to 7 Symptoms of Medical Malpractice.

    Already looking for a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice cases in D.C.? 

    Don't hire a lawyer or sign anything without using our guide to interview and evaluate any lawyer (hint: we're not all equal) before you make that important decision.  TV commercials, Yellow Page Ads, internet ads, they can all attract customers in any business, but this is different.  You're not buying a mattress.  Take action and learn how to find the best lawyer for you and your family.

    Of course every person affected by medical mistakes is different and unique.  That's why we set aside time every month to talk to people just like you, who are living with the stress and worry of dealing with a serious medical injury that could have been prevented.  So if you want to talk specifically about your situation, call us at (202) 393 - 3320. 

    The reports are free, written in English (no legalese) and very helpful.   The call is also completely confidential, of course.

  • I'm so scared and confused -- my baby has a birth injury. What should I do?

    What is a birth injury?

    Birth injuries in a D.C. hospital can refer to a number of specific injuries, conditions, or diagnoses a baby receives. Sometimes the term "birth injury" refers to a lack of oxygen (perinatal asphyxia) during delivery. Sometimes it means a delay in delivering the baby that causes Cerebral Palsy or other permanent damages and disability to the child. Sometimes the term will refer to a delayed delivery that caused shoulder dystocia, or a baby born with infection.

    No matter what the specifics of the injury or condition related to the child's birth, there are certain steps to take immediately.

    1) Get a complete copy of all of the medical and hospital records. Records for the obstetrician and records for the hospital may be separate, depending on the hospital;

    2) Get a complete copy of all films, images (like sonograms, MRIs and CT scans) your baby had. Remember to get the acual images, not just the reports; and

    3) Get your child the best medical care, treatment, and therapy you can find (we published a resource guide for parents in D.C., Maryland and Virginia who have children with special needs. Order it for free today  -- it will help).

    4) Then talk to us about investigating the cause of your child's condition or disability.  The medical investigation we do is thorough and time consuming - we want to make sure you have all of the information you need to help your child. 

    We will review your records for free; no cost and no obligation.

    We also know, from over 20 years experience, that the sooner we get started, the sooner we can help you and your child.

    So call us today and we can send you your free copy of Getting Everything Your Special Needs Child Deserves: A Parent's Guide to Resources.

    We have also published a book called Picking Up the Pieces After Medical Malpractice: A Parent's Guide. Both of these resources are free and indispensable to a parent of a child with special needs.

    Both should help get you started.  We also set aside time every week to answer questions and give information over the phone.  If a confidential, no obligation stragegy session would help you, please call us at 202-393-3320 to schedule it.  There is no charge for the initial strategy session.

  • Should I sign the medical information release form the workers comp adjuster sent?

    No - unless you don't care who is reading your confidential medical records and history (sometimes family history) since birth.  The forms insurance companies use will allow them or anyone they see fit, total access to all of your medical records.

    They don't need it.  What does a back injury playing football 10 years ago have to do with the ankle fracture that happened at work last week? Or a positive drug test 20 years ago?  Or a family history of diabetes?

    Plus, they will use it to deny or delay your claim for benefits after a work injury, especially if you have ever injured the same body part before or have a pre-existing condition that was affected by this injury at work.

    Despite what the adjuster will tell you, there is no requirement that you sign any forms giving away all of your confidential medical information.

    If you hurt your shoulder at work, have your doctor send the records for treatment to the shoulder.

    Have questions or need more information?  Call us today and we'll send you a free, no obligation book on workers compensation that you can use to make the best decisions about your case - decisions that will be best you and your family, not the insurance company.

  • I have an unrelated pre-existing medical condition that was affected by my injury at work in D.C. Can they deny me benefits?

    The workers comp insurance shouldn't deny your claim just because you have a pre-existing condition, but many times they do.

    In D.C. an underlying condition that was made symptomatic or aggravated by an injury at work is covered by workers compensation.  Many workers have had prior on the job injuries or conditions, like a bad back, that have flared up from time to time.

    Some people have medical conditions that may make an injury more severe than if it had happened to someone else, like a condition that causes brittle bones.  A fracture caused by a fall at work may be more severe and require additional treatment, surgery and recovery time than it would have otherwise.

    If you have a pre-existing condition or medical history and you are hurt at work, don't give the insurance company a recorded statement.  They will use any mention of your condition to deny or delay your workers comp benefits - medical treatment and weekly income - even if there is no medical basis to do so.


  • How can a settlement of your medical malpractice case make your life easier?

    The goal of any medical malpractice case is to help the patient.

    We think of our malpractice cases in D.C., Maryland or Virginia in very practical terms, always asking ourselves how this case will help this person or this family and we evaluate the case that way from day one.

    How can a settlement help?

    By providing around the clock nursing care that Medicaid won't cover, money for wheelchair accessible vans so you can be as independent and mobile as possible, money for home modifications to live comfortably and be able to move freely and safely through your own home, monthly income so you don't have to worry about paying the bills because you can no longer work.

    We use a case to try to relieve your stress and solve your problems and take care of your worries.

  • Does a doctor have to take workers comp insurance?

    No - a doctor or other medical provider can't be forced to take workers compensation insurance to pay for medical treatment someone needs after an injury at work.  That's up to the doctor or the group he works for, of course.

    Most physicians who treat injuries, like orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons and pain management specialists accept workers comp insurance in the D.C. area.  But the rates vary in D.C., Maryland and Virginia (and other states as well).

    Sometimes it is hard to find a specialist who is not used to treating work injuries to accept workers comp, like an ENT or dentist, for example.  And it can be difficult of the injured worker moves out of state and the medical provders aren't familiar with the D.C. workers compensation system and reimbursements.

    If you're having trouble getting a doctor to accept workers compensation after an injury at work, just give us a call and we can answer any specific questions you have over the phone.  The call is free and confidential, of course.

  • I'm on workers comp after an injury in D.C. My doctor says I need spine surgery but workers comp is sending me to an IME. What is that?

    It's an Insurance Medical Exam - there is nothing "independent" about it. 

    Most insurance companies use these exams as an excuse to deny medical treatment or benefits in a workers comp case.  And sadly, some of these doctors are insurance company hacks - all they do is examine people hurt at work and send a report to the insurance company (since that is almost all of their business, you can imagine what those reports say - you can go back to heavy lifting, your condition isn't related to your work injury, you don't need the treatment your treating doctor get the picture).

    Spine surgery (or knee surgery or shoulder surgery) is a serious decision, but don't confuse an IME with a true and legitimate second opinion on whether you need the surgery or if its the best treatment for your condition - it's not.

    They can send you to the exam but make sure you provide a copy of the report to your treating physician so he or she can debunk it.

  • How do you pay medical bills after you get hurt at work?

    After a work injury, you may need immediate treatment, whether you go to the hospital or a clinic or a private doctor.  But how do you pay for that medical treatment you need?

    In D.C. the workers compensation insurance should pay for all of your medical treatment related to the work injury (and remember, in D.C. and Maryland, you choose your own doctor - don't let the insurance company make this choice for you).

    But they may not have a claim set up before you need the medical treatment, especially in an emergency.  It's OK to use your health insurance initially, and they can be reimbursed by the workers comp insurance company (and you can be reimbursed for any co-pays).

    After that, you shouldn't use your health insurance or pay out of pocket for medical bills - that's the responsibility of the workers comp insurance company.

    If they deny your workers comp claim or don't authorize the treatment you need for your injury, then you can use your health insurance or pay directly.  Keep all of your receipts so you can get reimbursed if you win that issue.

  • How do I find the right lawyer for me and my family after a serious injury?

    The traditional way to find a lawyer is word of mouth. Sometimes, a trusted friend can provide a referral to a lawyer they know or have worked with.  But lawyers are specialized now and it can be hard to find the best lawyer for you.  reviews - what real clients have said about the lawyer are a great resource.

    Here are some tips on finding the right lawyer after a serious injury.

    The internet is an essential resource. Looking at the websites of personal injury law firms will allow you to start to evaluate the various firms. But be careful here, like TV commercials law firms can buy listings, content, and everything else.  So make sure the site has a lot of content and information that you can use.

    There are lots of questions you'll need to ask, like:

    Have they handled the specific type of case you have? Are they Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (very few lawyers have this distinction); are they selected as Super Lawyers by an independed rating agency? 

    Have they published books, guides and reports on the type of case you have?

    After on-line research, a phone call and then an in-person meeting with a lawyer is the best way to see if the firm is the right fit for you.  Make sure you can work with and trust the lawyer you hire.  Remember, insurance companies know who the serious lawyers are - the ones who help people with catastrophic injuries

    And you only get one chance in court - so make the best decision for you and your family.

    Order our free resources on the types of cases we help people with and on specific questions you should ask any lawyer you are considering hiring to make sure that lawyer is the best for you and your family.