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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  • What should I bring with me when I meet my lawyer?

    At the initial meeting, you should bring copies of any reports you have regarding your accident whether filled out by you, the police or others. Also, you should bring your health insurance information and any papers you received at the hospital or from other health care providers related to your treatment. It’s helpful to have any photos you might have showing your injuries, the place where you were injured or your car or other vehicles involved in the accident

    Plus, any medical records, doctor's notes or pay stubs you have are a good start.  We'll be able to get all of this information directly from the doctors, hospitals and employers, but bring everything you have.

    In a car accident case, you should bring a copy of your car insurance policy so we can review the coverage you have that could help you.

    The biggest thing about hiring a lawyer is trust - is he or she the right person for you and your family?

    That's why we wrote and recommend you bring a copy of our Personal Injury Lawyer Evaluation Form. With this form you will be able to ask the lawyer about his/her experience, practice and qualifications. Think of it like an interview, you want to make sure they are the right fit for you-- like in an interview with a future employer.

    And remember, you only have one case, so take your time and find the best lawyer for you and your family.

  • What types of on the job injuries qualify for workers compensation?

    When you talk about getting hurt at work and workers compensation, most people think about construction workers with a torn rotator cuff from lifting something overhead, or someone with a back injury lifting materials, or a knee injury from a fall on a jobsite - things like that.

    As long as the injury arises out of and in the course of the employment, you should be covered.

    But it also depends where you work and where you got hurt.  In D.C., most every injury that is related to the workplace is covered by workers comp and that includes occupational diseases, or exposure to something at work that causes a medical condition.

    Maryland used to be a "slip, trip or fall" state, meaning a worker had to slip, trip or fall to be entitled to workers compensation.  Thankfully, that's changed, so if you're hurt lifting equipment as part of your job, you're covered.

    Virginia requires you to prove that it arose out of and was in the course of the work activity.  An idiopathic fall (one where you don't know the cause) may not be covered by workers comp, for example, depending on a number of other factors.

    Bottom line - it's not as straightforward as most people think.  And workers comp insurance adjusters are trained to look for ways to keep you from getting workers comp benefits and medical treatment for a work injury.

    So for a serious injury, give us a call or send us a confidential e-mail.  If we can't help, we'll try to get you to someone who can.

  • Do I need to take my medical malpractice case to court?

    This is not a simple yes or no question, in fact, it's pretty complicated.

    This is a decision you and an experienced medical malpractice attorney whom you trust, must decide together. It is a critical decision in most cases - would you and your family be better off after a trial?  In our system, jury verdicts are difficult to predict, and the outcome is unknown until the very end.

    So you can weigh options and any settlement offers, or estimate the range of a jury verdict, but you'll never really know until you try the case.  That's a big reason why you need a medical malpractice lawyer you can trust, and why we need clients we can trust.  Preparing a medical malpractice case for trial and trial itself is an intense, emotional, stressful and excititng time. 

    There are times when the insurance company for the doctor or hospital doesn't think they did anything wrong, or treatment would not have worked anyway, or some other doctor or nurse was at fault, so they never offer a reasonable settlement.  If the settlement won't help you, your family or child affected by medical malpractice, its an easy decision - go to trial.

    But go to trial with lawyers who know and care about you and your family, who are experienced, know the medicine and have worked hard the whole time to give you and your family the best shot at success.  In other words, you have to trust them.

  • Can septic shock be caused by negligent medical care?

    Yes - we've seen it.  Remember, "negligent medical care" just means a hospital or health care provider did not follow established patient safety rules - and that caused a preventable medical mistake.

    Septic shock is an overwhelming infection in the body with a significant inflammatory response  - it leads to extremely low blood pressure and is life threatening.  It is a medical emergency that has to be recognized and treated immediately.  Typically a patient is moved to the ICU and immediate treatment that may include oxygen, antibiotics, fluids, drugs to combat the inflammatory response and hopefully limit organ damage are instituted.

    It can be caused by a bacterial infection and many times symptoms include lightheadedness, very high or low temperatures, shortness of breath.  And it affects the very old and the very young - meaning septic shock can be misdiagnosed in children.

    And as every parent knows, a child's condition can deteriorate rapidly.  Their bodies just don't have the reserves or strength of an adult.

    Because septic shock requires immediate treatment and the treatment is known, most medical malpractice cases involving septic shock are based on a delayed or missed diagnosis by a pediatrician or ER physician.  These providers have a duty to timely assess and diagnose patients, especially children, to identify life threatening illnesses that can be treated.

    In one of our cases, a Maryland hospital emergency room let a child sit in their exam room, where he was seen initially but not really examined, for several hours.  By the time a doctor in the ER made the diagnosis, and the child was moved to the ICU and medications and therapy started, he lost two limbs and a portion of another.


  • Why is My Workers' Comp Check Always Late?

    Late workers' comp checks are a big problem. We can fix it.

    Late workers' comp checks don't mean you can be late on your bills.  Your creditors don't care if your workers' comp check is late and now you can't pay your mortgage, rent, car, utilities, and other bills.

    Do you have the time, resources, and ability to make sure your checks come on time? We do.

    Can you convince the adjuster, nurse case manager, and your doctor all to do the right thing so your check isn't held up and comes on time, regularly so you can pay your bills, feed your family and do what is important for you? 

    Our professional, experienced staff makes sure your adjuster sends your check on time.

    There are a number of reasons adjusters don't send out workers compensation benefit checks on time, like they're supposed to. The adjuster just forgot.  Or the supervisor has to authorize it.  Or the computer made a mistake.  There are a lot of excuses they will give you.  Remember, the adjuster works for the insurance company - and her job is to reduce the amount of medical treatment and benefits the insurance company has to pay you.  Even an adjuster who is friendly, organized, and hasn't given you any trouble at all may also have three hundred cases on her desk, so she isn't going to give you any special attention when she gets busy.

    What can you do about it?  You need persistent, targeted, professional follow-up.  And that's hard to do by yourself; most people don't have the training, experience, or time to navigate a workers' compensation system and deal with an insurance company. That's one of the first benefits we provide for our clients.

    Here are some specific tips on what to do when your check is late. We have a system in place to follow up for our clients and take action when your check is late.

    Remember, in D.C., the insurance company can stop your benefits for just about any reason, or no reason at all.  They can send you to one of their doctors for an appointment with an insurance doctor, (insurance companies call this an "IME") and that doctor may say any number or things. He may say you can go back to work, or that your injury or condition is not related to your work injury, that your injury was caused by some other factors, or that it has resolved or gotten better (or worse; it should have gotten better by now so you must be faking).

    Or maybe your doctor has not yet responded to their requests for more info on your medical condition, or hasn't given you an out-of-work or disability slip indicating you cannot yet return to work. Maybe they have talked to your employer and are questioning the workers' comp claim. Maybe you need a hearing to get your checks flowing again.

    If your check is late, so you can't pay the bills, or you're not sure you are being paid the right amount (a lot of people aren't paid the correct amount and they don't know it - the insurance adjuster won't tell you that, it's not her job...), or your medical treatment is delayed and you aren't getting better, you don't have to put up with it any longer. 

    Call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to see if we can help you and your family. You'll speak to a real person today.  

    Read the reviews of what real clients have said about working with us.  Watch the educational videos we've produced.  Order a book, guide, or report that can start helping you today. Then, give us a call to see if we can help reduce your stress and get your case moving more efficiently.

    But do it today.   Here's why.   First, the sooner we can start helping you and your family, the better off you will be.  Second, if you wait, we may not be able to or be available to help (we prefer everything be done right from the beginning - a lot of people (or the wrong lawyer) make significant mistakes in their case without even knowing it).   


  • If a baby's cerebral palsy wasn't discovered until after we were home, what can we do?

    Many times, cerebral pasly is not diagnosed until much later, after the baby is home from the hospital.  Sometimes the pediatrician or neonatologist believes the child has cerebral palsy, or the child is not meeting his or her developmental milestones later in life.

    Many times, cerebral palsy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain around the time of birth - and that is usually preventable, especially if there were signs and symptoms that the baby was in distress and the physicians, residents or interns at the hospital did not deliver the baby quickly by c-section.

    An injury like cerebral palsy affects the whole family and parents are naturally worried about how they can care for a child with special needs or disabilities - how they can provide the right medical care, nursing care, rehab, education and other things that a special needs child may require.

    Through our work with a lot of families of disabled children, especially kids with cerebral palsy, we've developed and published a resource guide for parents of special needs children that can help as well.

    At this point, you should also call us to have the case evaluated by Board Certified lawyers, experienced in representing children with cerebral palsy and other serious injuries from birth.  That should be done right away so we can get your medical records, studies, imaging studies, prenatal records and the baby's NICU and pediatric records and review these with qualified expert physicians.

    But don't wait - get help for your family today.

  • Can a personal injury case be tied with a sexual harassment case? If the victim was both sexually harassed and injured would it be a combined tort case or separated instances?

    It can be.  A personal injury case usually involves someone being hurt because someone else was negligent, meaning they had a duty to do something, but they didn’t and that hurt someone else.  The action doesn’t have to be intentional – a driver texting while he runs you over probably didn’t mean to run you over, but he never saw you because he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to, watching the road.

    Sometimes a person intends to hurt another – tries to run him over, and that can also be a personal injury case, as well as a crime.  Sexual harassment can certainly be both – a personal injury case for the physical and emotional harm, as well as a crime.  And sometimes the case is against the company that employed the one who harassed you because they didn’t supervise him, or knew he had done it before, or hired him without checking his background.  Or they had a duty to protect you but didn’t.

  • The insurance company denied my workers compensation claim in D.C. and I received a form to apply for a Formal Hearing. What can I expect at the Formal Hearing in D.C.?

    A Formal Hearing for a workers compensation case in the District of Columbia is like a condensed trial.  After filing an application for the Formal Hearing, the injured worker (now called the claimant) and the workers comp insurance company will receive a scheduling order.  The scheduling order will give the hearing date and discovery deadlines.  Like a civil case in Superior Court, federal courts or other state courts, the parties are entitled to discovery - depositions, interrogatories, subpoenas, de bene esse depositions are common in D.C. workers compensation cases.

    Typically, exhibits are filed in advance of the hearing, according to the scheduling order deadlines.  An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will preside over the hearing and issue a decision in the case, in the form of a Compensation Order, often several weeks to months following the hearing.

    At the hearing most ALJs will informally discuss the issues and exhibits before going on the record.  Once on the record, most ALJs will state the parties' issues and positions then allow opening statements.  Witnesses will testify under oath, and be subject to cross examination.

    Most ALJs will then allow closing arguments from both sides.     Basically, the process is a trial - just faster. 

  • I was hurt at work in D.C. and have a workers compensation claim. What kind of hearings are available for deciding benefits in D.C. workers compensation cases?

    If you're hurt on the job in D.C. or have a job located in the District and are hurt on the job outside of D.C., you have a claim for workers compensation benefits based on your work injury - your employer or workers compensation insurance company should pay disability benefits and medical benefits if you can't work because of the injury (or work related disease or illness).

    When the insurance company disputes or denies part of your workers compensation claim - they almost always do at some point - there are two ways to have a hearing on your case.

    The first, an informal conference, is just like the name - informal.  There is no testimony under oath and no witnesses are called to testify.  A claims examiner will issue a decision that either party may reject (it is not binding).

    Some issues are OK for an informal conference - payment of a medical bill, for example.  But if you can't work because of an on the job injury and the insurance company isn't paying benefits, an informal conference may just delay a decision, because even if you win, the insurance company will appeal.

    A Formal Hearing is held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and testimony is taken under oath.  The decision of the ALJ, called a Compensation Order can be appealed, but if benefits are awarded, the insurance company's appeal will not stay the award of benefits - in other words, if the injured worker wins, the workers compensation insurance company has to pay benefits while the case is appealed.

  • How do you pick a jury in a medical malpractice case?

    In a D.C. medical malpractice case, where a patient is suing a hospital or physician who harmed her because of substandard medical care, choosing a jury is the first step of the trial.  The jury is usually 8 people who will listen to the testimony of expert witnesses and fact witnesses and review all of the exhibits or evidence submitted and decide the case.

    Many lawyers say that juries are actually "de-selected," each side typically receives 3 peremptory strikes they can use to "de-select" potential jurors. Lawyers can use these for a variety of reasons, as long as they are not based on a protected class, such as race.  Strikes for cause may include potential jurors who cannot hear this particular case because they know the parties or lawyers, have an out of town trip scheduled, or have a bias or inclination to favor one side or the other.  Everyone has inclinations, opinions or strong feelings on certain subjects, so if a potential juror has these in a particular case, and it could affect how he or she views the case, they probably should not hear the case.

    Typically the judge will conduct voir dire in the District of Columbia, a process of asking the jurors questions regarding their background, familiarity with the issues or parties, etc.  Most of the time, these questions will be answered privately, at the bench or in a separate room with only the lawyers and judge present.  Depending on the issues involved, jury selection in a medical malpractice case can last between a couple of hours to a full day.