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.
- Page 2
Can I get Some Info on Making a Claim Under My Long Term Disability Policy?
Long Term Disability Insurance Denials
There are a number of reasons the disability insurance company can deny your legitimate claim for benefits, even if you can't work because of an injury or medical condition. Unfortunately, most people don't recognize how important the appeal is, or, usually because they are so seriously injured or ill that it will be easy to convince the insurance company that they made a mistake, or they don't know how to respond (how would they, having never been in this situation before?)
Here's some common misconceptions about ERISA long term disability:
All it takes is reading the forms, telling the insurance company about your injury or illness and sending in a doctor's note.
If you just complete the 2 page form from the insurance company, you will get your benefits.
If you have been awarded Social Security disability benefits your long term disability benefits will automatically be approved by the insurance company.
If your doctor writes a note to the insurance company or your medical records indicate you are disabled you will be awarded disability benefits.
If your company or boss tells the insurance company that you can't work because of your illness or injury, you will be awarded benefits.
Here are some of the realities of ERISA long term disability:
Insurance companies are for profit corporations, with a duty to maximize profits for shareholders. One of the ways they do this is by denying claims like yours (and let's face it, they know a certain percentage of cases will go no further, and some people will just accept their denial).
The forms insurance companies send you are really to help them deny claims. By having you answer questions about things you can do that have no relationship to your work, injury or illness, they can say you're not disabled (or don't fit the policy definition).
If you're awarded Social Security disability, your insurance company can still argue that they do not need to follow that determination, even though it is a federal program and the standards for awarding social security disability are higher than most long term disability policies.
There is nothing that requires the insurance company to follow your doctor’s opinions and recommendations (even though that doctor knows your condition and limitations, has probably treated you over months or years and is in the best position to address this). Instead, they will probably hire an insurance medical examiner review your records, and somehow say you can work.
Just like with your physician, the insurance company is not required to follow your company's recommendation. Instead, they will ignore or minimize evidence from co-workers, bosses and people who are in the best position to observe your limitations, and especially the before and after picture.
What Can Do To Combat the Disability Insurance Company?
Here are some general tips to keep in mind as you go through the process:
Get prepared and organized. If you have a condition that is getting worse, get everything in order before you can't work and before you submit a claim.
Do not tell a lie in any part of the claims process. But with any forms you complete, send in all of your supporting documents as well - the forms themselves just aren't enough.
Get an independent lawyer to help with social security when you file for social security disability - the disability insurance company may offer a big national firm to do this for you - but whose interests do you think that firm and lawyer have at heart?
They don't teach ERISA disability claims in medical school. Your doctor may be an awesome physician but doesn't know what will help or hurt your specific disability benefit claim - above all, make sure he or she (or any physician you see) uses the definition of disability contained in the insurance policy. Sometimes the doctor may have a definition of disability in his or her own mind or practice that is different.
Get letters from bosses, co-workers, friends and families who can accurately describe your condition and how it prevents you from working (especially the before and after picture) and include them in your appeal, even though the insurance company may ignore or discount these. If nothing else, if you're appeal is denied and you have to file a lawsuit in federal court, you can argue their denial was unreasonable because they didn't consider this evidence.
And if your long term disability claim was denied, call us at (202) 393 - 3320 for help. We'll review the denial letter for free and tell you what we think. Just remember, under ERISA, you only have 180 days to file your appeal, so don't wait!
¿Cuál es la tasa máxima de beneficios de compensación del trabajador en DC?
De conformidad con la ley de compensación de trabajadores del distrito de Columbia de 1979, el código oficial de D.C., § 32-1505, efecto del 1 de enero de 2019, el pago de compensación semanal máximo para las reclamaciones de compensación de trabajadores del sector privado del distrito de Columbia es $1,521.74 el pago de compensación semanal mínimo es $380.44. Eso es un aumento del 2% del año pasado.
¿Busca más información sobre las tasas de compensación máximas para la compensación de trabajadores de DC durante años?
¿Se está preguntando qué tipo de tasas de compensación podría tener derecho a por su lesión en el trabajo? ¿Ha oído hablar de términos flotantes como PPD permanente por incapacidad parcial o PTD de incapacidad total permanente?
No te preocupes más. ¡ Llámenos! Siempre nos aseguramos de que nuestros clientes se pagan la tasa más alta posible (si usted tiene más de un trabajo, echa un vistazo a este artículo sobre el apilamiento salarial).
No esperes hasta que ya hayas arruinado tu caso. Es posible llegar demasiado lejos en la línea y el Ajustador de seguros va a sacar su bolsa de trucos si usted es desprevenido.
Llámenos hoy mismo al 202-393-3320.
Do I Have to Use the Lawyer My Union Uses?
My Union Already Has a Lawyer. Do I Have to Use Them?
We love unions. We represent a lot of people who belong to unions. We are big fans of the industry and we consider our mission similar to that of the union itself. Namely, we are all protecting workers and their families.
So why would we tell you not to use your Union Lawyer?
First of all, if your Union Lawyer is good, use them! We always want workers to be represented by the best people.
click here to discover the truth about your income on workers' comp.
These attorneys might be kept on retainer to handle all types of things; from employment matter to contract negotiations to workers' compensation. And many of those big "mill" firms might do one or two of those things well, but it doesn't mean that they are going to be good at workers' compensation.
In fact, we hear over and over about how attorneys treat people "like a number." We hear complaints that attorneys don't return phone calls and don't update their clients.
So the question remains, do you have to use your union lawyer?
The answer is no, not necessarily. Are your union dues going toward those retainers for those attorneys? Probably. Are they the best attorney for your case? We hope so, but if they are not you shouldn't feel bad about giving us a call.
Afraid of making your union rep angry? Trust us, we don't want to make your union rep angry either. In fact we get a fair amount of referrals from unions themselves! We have great relationships with unions in the DMV. Sometimes I even go out and speak and union member meetings to get great information into the hands of great people.
Most firms simply don't provide the same experience that we do. We have free books, guides and reports that will help you to connect with who we are and get some great information about the process. You'll discover that most attorneys don't measure up to the experience you are going to get with us. Why? Just give us a call - you'll discover the truth from the first time you call in to our offices.
When should I hire a lawyer after a serious car accident?
That is a great question - one that we get a lot.
If you have a serious injury, you can ignore those CALL NOW!!! WE'RE AGGRESSIVE!! WE GET YOU MONEY!! screeching TV commercials you see (and same for the internet pop-up ads).
If you were in a tiny fender bender with no real injury, just some stiffness and you want some lawyer to send you to his chiropractor buddy to run up a bill and get some small settlement that pays the lawyer and the chiropractor more than you...then go ahead and call one of those commercials.
And don't be fooled by the more "tasteful" ads - some lawyers are just better at making commercials but they do the same thing with your case.
Quick story - I was moderating a panel of judges at a forum with a group of trial lawyers a few years ago. It was like a debate, I'd ask the questions and follow up and the judges would answer them. Right before we started, we were talking informally and getting prepared. One of the judges saw a lawyer who had just switched firms to a big TV advertiser and was now featured in their commercials.
"Oh," the judge said, "I see you're a big TV star now."
It was not a compliment.
Back to your question. There's actually a lot that goes into the decision of when to hire the best lawyer for you and your family (and getting the right lawyer for you - someone you can trust to give you the honest, best guidance and advice on your case so you can focus on your rehab and be able to make the best decisions for yourself and your family - is critical). Remember, it's a relationship. You have to be able to trust each other.
There is no real hurry in getting a lawyer right away but there are a few things you shouldn't do:
Don't talk to the other drivers insurance company adjuster - they are trained to get statements from you when you're in pain, on medication, not thinking clearly, worrying about your injuries, etc. - they want to get you to say something damaging about your case, something that they could use to pay you less than you deserve.
There is no reason to feel pressured to talk to the adjuster - they won't "close your case" if you don't call back (that means absolutely nothing by the way). They don't pay your doctors, therapists, surgeons, specialists, or hospital directly, so that is never an issue (but they might tell you it is).
We tell people all the time that we want you to focus on getting better - on your healthcare decisions, on your rehab.
Yes, we are here for you and can talk to you, but I guarantee you will hear us say that if you call. And we want to help you whenever you call.
Sometimes someone just needs us to answer a question or two, or called another lawyer and got bad advice, or needs some clarification and support on the insurance coverage they have available or whether their health insurance has a lien against their case (subrogation, or a right to be repaid what they paid out if your case settles).
And sometimes people want us to take care of all of the legal issues from the beginning, so they can focus on getting better. If that's you, that's OK too, we're happy to do that for people who want that.
So there is no hard and fast rule on when to hire a lawyer after a serious injury, especially in a car crash (if the serious injury happened at work, that can complicate things so call us to help give you specific guidance on that). And don't wait until you're close to the statute of limitations - we won't take a case that is close to the statute of limitations (the deadline to file a lawsuit for your injuries) because we may not have enough time to thoroughly investigate it and give you the best guidance and advice.
The main thing is that you are comfortable and make the right decision for you and your family. We have a lot of resources on the process of hiring the best lawyer after a serious injury and what to expect if you've been in a serious accident in D.C., Virginia or Maryland - they are all free, with absolutely no obligation - just call or click on them and we'll get them right out to you!
The Doctor Says I'll Never Fully Recover - What Do I Do Now?
I've got a permanent injury and I'll Never Be the Same
We've seen it a lot.
You've been hurt at work - an injury you never asked for and wasn't your fault, but it happened. And you've been dealing with the workers comp insurance company adjuster, not sure if she is being honest with you or telling you the truth (Spoiler Alert - she works for the insurance company, not you and your family).
The workers comp benefits you can get for a permanent injury depend on a lot of factors under DC Workers' comp.
So let's go through them.
First, if you have a permanent injury, especially to your neck, back, shoulder or ankle, and it prevents you from working again, you may be eligible to get permanent total disability.
This means you can't do any work at all. And it depends on what your job was at the time you got hurt - the heavier, physically demanding job you had could make a difference. So does your training, education and experience.
For example, if you've worked construction since you were a teenager and you're now 57, you've developed a lot of valuable skills but they all involve hard work (we all know there is no light duty in the trade). Because of that, you've never had time to develop other skills - sales, computer skills, writing and public speaking. So you're probably competing for jobs that are entry level - competing with kids who are half your age. And who do you think a company will hire for an entry level job making $25,000 a year? Someone who was making $100,000 before he got hurt, or someone just out of school?
How about someone who has been out of work for the last few years because of an injury?
Most employers just won't touch you. And that's one of the real world factors we have to look it. Everyone is different and has a different set of skills they bring to a job. We review all of the factors to see if someone qualifies for permanent total disability - and if so, they can get a lifetime award of workers comp benefits and annual COLA increases (plus medical treatment for the injury).
Now let's say you had a bad injury to your knee and needed a knee replacement.
But your job was mostly sedentary, office type work where you weren't lifting much, walking around a lot, up and down stairs, and all that.
Once you returned to work, you could get benefits for the permanent partial disability your injury caused, or a percentage disability or permanent impairment as it is also called. To be eligible for those type of benefits, you'll need a doctor to indicate you've reached maximum medical improvement (this just means the condition won't get much better or much worse) and then evaluate the injury and give you a permanency rating. The American Medical Association has guidelines for doctors to use in giving you a rating.
There are a number of strategies that go into this, like the timing, the doctor to use for the rating, and a number of other factors that will be specific to your injury and your case.
And remember, the workers comp insurance company is going to fight this - they will send you to one of their doctors who will say there is nothing wrong with you, your injury wasn't caused by your work, it's not a permanent injury, it's a very slight permanent injury, that kind of thing. And insurance company adjusters and lawyers are trained to fight any claim for permanent injury - in fact, they start setting that up from day 1 (all the more reason you need the best lawyer for you and your family at the beginning of your case).
There are a number of ways handle the permanent injury aspect of your DC workers comp case - they can include hearings, stipulations and settlements. All of these have their place, it's just a matter of making the best decision on your workers comp case for you and your family as to what is right for you - and that's really our mission, to work your case, giving you the advice, guidance and counsel you need to make the best decision for you and your family.
If you've got a permanent injury, or think your injury will be permanent at some point, give us a call at (202) 393 - 3320 to talk about it. Sometimes just one free, no obligation call can prevent you from making a huge mistake that will affect your case - don't take that chance with your future.
My husband's leg was amputated in a Washington DC hospital. Did the hospital screw up?
You hear these things far too often and they make you afraid to ever visit a hospital again. The prep team marked the wrong limb for surgery. The doctor didn't follow up on a critical test. Your child was born with cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery.
And the thing people always want to know of course, is,
is it the doctor's fault?
The only way you can know for sure
is to have your medical records reviewed.
Medical malpractice cases are very difficult to prove, which is why we only review the cases we think we can add value to, to make a meaningful difference in people's lives.
Recently our principal and founding attorney Frank Kearney answered the question,
IF YOU TRULY WANT TO HELP PEOPLE, WHY DON’T YOU TAKE EVERY CASE?
Here's what he had to say:
That is a great question and it’s one I’ve thought about often over my 25 years as a lawyer.
Since I was a kid, I absolutely wanted to be a lawyer because I could help people (still do – it’s what drives me). I hate telling people I can’t take their case, or try to help them, but I have to. Here’s why.
It comes down to being able to help someone who really needs it – to be able to commit to them, to go deep into their case, to work at developing a lasting relationship, not just a case. And to do that right, I have to focus on those people we can do the most for and make the biggest difference in their life.
But I still want to help everyone in some way. That’s why I’ve developed a core of referral partners, lawyers I’ve worked with or known for years, who handle different kinds of cases but share my basic philosophy. And why we give away so much educational material.
Believe me, I’ve been criticized for this. I realize that’s not how most lawyers do it. It’s not popular. Sometimes it costs me money. And it’s hard to say no. But it’s the right thing to do because it allows me to help people at a higher level.
And when you visit my office you’ll see lots of pictures of people – they all look different, they come from all walks of life, different languages, different religions, you name it – and hopefully we’ve made a meaningful difference in their lives. Every day when I walk in, those pictures remind me why I’m here.
If you're asking the question: is my husband's catastrophic injury the hospital's fault? Could my baby's cerebral palsy have been prevented? How am I going to take care of my wife now that she needs round-the-clock care? You may need to have your medical records reviewed by an attorney. There is no cost, and no obligation for having your records reviewed. All you have to do is call us and we'll do the rest.
Give us a call today at 202-393-3320 to take the fear and uncertainty out of the process. You'll speak to a real person who wants to hear your story.
What is this Surgery Going to Do To My Career?
We hear this all the time from people who have been seriously injured at work. They have a torn rotator cuff, or a slipped disc and they have been referred to surgery from their treating physician for a shoulder replacement or a spinal fusion. To anyone, especially someone who has been working heavy-duty for most of their life, the prospects are terrifying. Best case scenario, he can still play with his grandchildren. Worst case scenario, the surgery doesn't take and he is both in pain and debilitated for the long term.
Neither prospect sounds like something he wants.
And he's not entirely sure of what he needs.
And to be completely transparent, we've seen the worst happen. Every surgery is a risk, and not every surgery takes. We recently had a seriously injured worker have shoulder surgery and with rehab he was back to work inside of six months. On other cases, we have seen spinal fusions or shoulder replacements end up needing a second surgery or dealing out chronic pain.
So how's a lawyer going to help you with that?
The reality is that there is very little we can do about your actual medical treatment prognosis. But we are very passionate about going to bat for you and make sure your recommended treatment is authorized and your benefits checks keep coming. We just won a financial award for a seriously injured worker with a back injury who's benefits had been denied by the insurance company.
Your life can change considerably after a serious injury, which is why you need an attorney to make sure you and your family are taken care of no matter what. Even if you are a Union Guy or Gal you may need to consider hiring your own attorney - your attorney should hit all of the indicators on the checklist.
We hear all the time from people who feel like they are just "being run through the mill."
You'll never be just another number with us.
Have you been seriously injured at work and you are worried you might have a permanent injury? Are you afraid to have surgery? Do you need surgery and it's not being authorized?
Give us a call today. We have helped many clients turn their lemons into lemonade - a permanent injury may be daunting but it doesn't have to ruin your life.
Have you met Bob? He had two rotator cuff surgeries and ended up with a permanent injury. More on his story click here......
What Should I Do After a Woman Backs Into Me in Washington, DC?
Yes, you heard right. I got hit by a car a few weeks ago in Washington DC during rush hour. I was minding my own business, riding on the sidewalk. You know those car garages in DC - there are a million of them and they usually have parking attendants. There was a car pulling out and so I rode behind her, only she changed her mind and backed into my right side - she sent me skidding to the left and tore a chunk out of my bike seat.
Can you believe it?
Unfortunately this kind of thing happens all too often. Cars, buses, trucks, distracted, not looking or paying attention. Pedestrians and bicyclists beware; even if you are following the rules that doesn't mean you will be safe.
Now, thankfully I didn't require hospitalization, surgery, or rehabilitation. In fact, other than being shaken up initially I was just fine. But what if that had not been the case? It made me think about how fragile life is and how easy it is to be seriously injured in a world where cars, trucks and big buses tend to block the intersection during a red light and force you into oncoming traffic to pass. Or simply follow the rhythms of traffic rather than obeying laws (which happens all the time in DC, Maryland and Virginia).
It's a scary thing. And I did notice, after some strenuous exercise over the weekend, that my left hip was misaligned slightly and I was in some pain/discomfort -which is a classic example of injuries creeping up after the fact. So you'd better believe I am going to visit the chiropractor this week so I can make my ballet class on Saturday.
Something like this also happened to one of our clients, a very good man, was hit as a pedestrian late last year and he has had and is requiring multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. He won't be able to go back to work anytime soon, if he can ever go back to work in the same capacity.
It can happen to anyone at anytime.
If you have been one of these unlucky people be seriously injured on the road, as a pedestrian, or on a bike you might want to call us and see if you need help from an attorney. I'm not saying you do, but chances are that if you require surgery and rehabilitation your medical bills and lost wages will be piling up.
Give us a call today at 202-393-3320. And don't forget to order our free book on car accidents.
Brooke M. Birkey
Education and Client Services
Have your own crazy story? Email me at [email protected] - you might make it into our newsletter!
How Hard is it to Have My Child's Medical Malpractice Case Evaluated in DC, Maryland, and Virginia?
First, we make it easy for you. We review all of the medical information, meet you and your child, and sit down with you to talk it all over. We've developed a process for helping families with kids hurt by malpractice that doesn't take up a lot of your time and injury - so you can focus on your family and your child (but we keep you up to date on everything).
So from a parent's view, we handle it all. But we've helped a lot of families just like yours over the last 25 years, and there are some things you may be feeling that are pretty common when you're dealing with malpractice and the effects it has on your child and your family.
I've heard parents say about their injured children "I just want my child to be okay. It's not about money or time or any of those things. I just want to make sure my baby is okay."
There is sometimes an emotional barrier to investigating whether malpractice was the cause of your child's devastating injuries, or thinking about starting a lawsuit, mostly because you are so overwhelmed by your child's injuries that you are unable to focus on what might happen down the road. There is also a fear of the unknown, which creates an emotional barrier.
Sometimes it's a friend or family member that is instrumental in bringing a mother or father around to the idea of investigating whether you should pursue a malpractice case to benefit your child and your family - taking some of the financial burden away, getting him or her resources for special needs, making sure there is money available for his or her future. Sometimes its hard to get past the immediate crisis and look to the future and what the child might need as he or she grows to be an adult, or when you can no longer take care of him or her.
I'M AFRAID I CAN'T AFFORD IT
Malpractice lawsuits are actually handled on a contingency basis, and it's true that lawsuits can be expensive, especially with multiple expert witnesses and consultants most cases. We don't put that risk on you - if Donahoe Kearney doesn't win or settle the case, you don't have to pay. Plus we don't want you worrying about the case - we want you focused on your child and your family, as only a parent can.
We have a very focused, personalized system we've developed over 25 years of holding hospitals and doctors accountable for injuring patients - especially children - so we will tell you upfront if we don't think you have a case that should be filed in the courts. And we only work with people and families we can really help - when the injuries are so severe that the child will need lifetime care and treatment, modifications to your home (or a new house), nurses and healthcare workers to come in and help at night or when you are gone. So we naturally limit the number of people we work with.
If this sounds like your situation, please reach out to us. It's easy to get started. You can call (202) 393 - 3320 to talk to a real person who will listen, or fill out the form to the left and we can call you. There's no obligation or cost and it's completely confidential.
But don't wait - we want to get started helping you and your child!
After a serious injury to my wife in the hospital that could be malpractice, the doctors and risk management people want to meet with us. What should we say?
Meeting With Hospital Staff After Malpractice
After someone is seriously injured in the hospital and the injury could have been prevented, there is a lot you have to worry about. Your life has just changed dramatically, and you now are responsible for your loved one's care, since they can no longer do this themselves.
One of the reasons the hospital staff may want to meet with you is to explain (from their perspective, of course) what happened to your loved one. Sometimes these "family meetings" as they are sometimes called, are a chance for the hospital staff, especially the risk management department, to try to talk you out of pursuing a malpractice case against the hospital. They may do this by not fully explaining what happened, or telling you it wouldn't have mattered no matter what the doctors and nurses did, or that your loved one had something unusual or unexplained go wrong.
Even if this is all true, it is something you should verify independently, and not rely on hospital administrators. Remember, the hospital will not have responsibility for your wife's care and treatment, and the costs of providing for her, after she is discharged - you will.
Will the hospital administrators apologize?
Sometimes they will apologize for what happened (again, always in the way most favorable to them). There is some thought that these type of apologies reduce the number of malpractice lawsuits because the people affected are satisfied, or accept the apology - and this is probably true if the injuries or condition is minor, but we are talking about life changing medical issues. An apology can be important, but it does not hold the hospital accountable and it does not help provide for the medical care and treatment your wife now needs.
The problem with these meetings is it's very hard to judge the motives of the hospital staff. Is one doctor upset at a system failure that caused your wife's injury or complications? If so, he may be brutally honest about what happened to try to change that system. Is the hospital staff defensive because they know they did something wrong? Are they genuinely concerned about your wife's well being and do they have helpful recommendations for the medical care and treatment she needs?
It is always important to bring someone else, other family members, to listen and ask questions to get all of the information you can.
But verify everything - first by getting a copy of the full medical chart and the actual images of any diagnostic tests done (like MRIs). It will be important to have this information reviewed by an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, with his or her own consultants and experts, to investigate this on your behalf - with the best interests of your wife and your family as the focus.
That's what we do. Call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 and we'll help you get started getting the information and analysis you need to make the best decisions for you and your family.