Answers to Medical Malpractice, Workers Comp, Long Term Disability Insurance, and Car Accident Questions
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 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 serious car accident or car 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.
If you're on a long term disability insurance claim and your claim has been denied, you probably need an attorney to do the appeal. Insurance companies will use every trick in their aresenal to deny or limit your benefits. Don't try to handle an appeal on your own.
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 do if I am hurt at work in D.C., Virginia or Maryland?
If you are hurt on the job, get the medical treatment you need. In the District of Columbia and Maryland, an injured worker is entitled to choose his or her own treating physician; injured workers are not obligated to treat with the workers compensation insurance company or employer's doctor. In Virginia, the insurance company must offer a panel of three doctors to choose from.
You must notify your employer of your work injury within 30 days and should complete any accident or injury reports. If you do not notify your employer of your injury within 30 days, the insurance company may use this to deny your benefits.
You will have to file a workers compensation claim in D.C., Maryland and Virginia - the workers comp insurance company or your employer will not do it for you.
But make sure you file in the right place - filing in the wrong state could cost you hundreds of dollars - every week. Insurance companies know this and will try to get you to file a D.C. case in Maryland just because you live there, even though you work in D.C.
So don't do anything until you read our book and learn about the tricks and traps of the workers comp system.
For questions about the specifics of filing your workers compensation claim (or where to file it - because the benefits are different in D.C., Virginia and Maryland) call us at 202-393-3320.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed because a hospital, doctor or healthcare coproration, HMO or nurse chose not to file patient safety rules and not to comply with the standard of care - or the way reasonable doctors practice medicine.
It can happen to anyone - even the most informed and educated patients. And medical malpractice can occur at the best hospitals. Sometimes it happens because healthcare providers do not communicate, with each other or their patients, or when they are in a rush or don't recognize signs and symtoms of a deteriorating condition or emergency.
How do I know if I have been the victim of medical malpractice?
You may be suspicious based on how the doctors, nurses or hospital administrators are acting, or another doctor may have told you something went wrong, but the truth is, many people don't know - the hospital, HMO or doctor's group is not up front with them about what happened.
And it is difficult to say whether you have a medical malpractice case without having your situation investigated - whether it involves a birth injury to a baby, hospital malpractice, HMO negligence or wrongful death. And if you believe you have suffered due to the negligence of your physician, surgeon, or any other healthcare professional, you should take steps to have the matter investigated as soon as possible. The only way to get answers for you and your family is to get as much information as you can - and to get more information about your case or talk specifically about your situation, just call us at (202) 393-3320.
What is the purpose of workman's compensation?
Workman's compensation laws, now usually called workers compensation laws, were originally designed as a social program to help injured workers and the families of employees killed on the job at a time when many workers were hurt or killed due to unsafe worksites and unsafe working conditions. The initial struggle for workers rights and workers compensation benefits started in the US at the beginning of the 20th century as the United States became a progressively industrialized society. As any construction worker, health care aide, mechanic or driver knows, it continues today.
Workers compensation laws and benefits vary from state to state - some states workman's compensation laws are more favorable to injured workers, other states' laws favor employers and insurance companies. When covered by workman's compensation, an injured employee cannot sue his employer in court for damages including pain and suffering. The injured worker is limited, by law, to recovering workers compensation benefits form his employer and its insurance company. In DC, Maryland and Virginia, benefits for workers who cannot work are 2/3 of their average earnings - up to a maximum benefit rate that is different in all three jurisdictions.
Although he cannot sue his employer, the worker hurt on the job does not have to prove his employer was negligent in causing an accident; as long as the injury arises out of and in the course of the worker's employment, it will be covered under workers compensation. An employee injured by someone else - a third party or another company, can sue the third party or company for damages and also obtain workers compensation benefits. Typically a portion of any recovery against the third party will be used to pay back the employer or insurance company that provided the workers compensation benefits.
I was involved in an automobile accident. Who is to blame?
Since every state has a fairly extensive code of driving regulations, the simple answer to this question is that the person who is at blame is the one who disregarded one or more of these laws. The responsibility of the accident is usually determined at the scene by the responding law enforcement officer. If you were not found to be at blame, and you sustained injuries in the accident, you may have the right to file for a personal injury claim.
Are automobile accident claims quick or easy to deal with?
Unfortunately, they usually aren’t. Insurance companies will fight claims all the way through court to make sure they don’t have to pay out money. They will use political clout, money, and very adept lawyers to force the claimant to settle for a low reward. While accident claims can be lengthy, you can greatly ease your burdens by consulting with an attorney that is both knowledgeable and committed to your situation.
What is med pay coverage?
Med pay - short for medical payments - is insurance you purchase that will pay for medical expenses and lost income (depending on your policy and state) if you are hurt in a car accident. Med pay is designed to pay as you go - as the medical bills come due and as medical treatment occurs - rather than at the end of a case. You can check the "Declarations" page of your automobile insurance policy (the page that summarizes the insurance coverage you have, the vehicles insured, and the policy limits and the premiums) to see if you have this coverage and check with your automobile insurance company or insurance agent if you want to add coverage. The attorneys at Donahoe Kearney, LLP will review your insurance policy with you and explain coverages and insurance law free of charge.
What is the standard of care in a medical malpractice case?
The standard of care is simply the medical care a reasonable, prudent physician, in the same or similar circumstances, would give. It is sometimes called the standard of practice and is the practice of most physicians in a given specialty at a certain time. Proving the standard of care is an essential element of a medical malpractice case. An expert witness, usually a physician in the same medical specialty as the doctor being sued, is usually required to establish the standard of care in a medical malpractice case. In D.C. medical malpractice cases and in Maryland medical malpractice cases, the standard of care is a national standard. This means an accepted medical practice throughout the country - the medical care is no different in the District of Columbia, or Chicago or Kentucky, for example. In Virginia medical malpractice cases, a statewide standard of care applies (although it can be the same as the national standard of care as well). A standard of care based on local practice is also permissable in Virginia medical malpractice cases.
What are permanent partial disability benefits in workers compensation cases?
In D.C., Virginia or Maryland workers compensation cases, an employee hurt at work is entitled to workers compensation benefits based on his permanent injury - sometimes called percentage disability or permanent impairment, even though he can return to work, either in his pre injury job or some other job. These are called permanent partial disability benefits.
The workers compensation law is different for each jurisdiction, but D.C., Virginia, and Maryland workers compensation law each have a schedule - a fixed amount of weeks of compensation for the loss of a body part.
The amount of the permanent partial disability benefits available to an injured worker vary in each state, and depend on the severity of the injury, whether it required surgery, rehab, etc., so call us if you have a permanent injury and we can discuss your specific situation.
My automobile insurance includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. What is this and how does it help if I'm hurt in a car accident?
In D.C. and Maryland, many automobile insurance policies contain PIP coverage. If you are hurt in a car or truck accident, your automobile insurance company will cover reasonable and necessary medical treatment and lost wages up to the PIP policy limit. In Maryland this is usually $2,500 but additional insurance coverage can be purchased. In the District of Columbia, this may also be called No-Fault insurance. In some situations, accepting D.C. no-fault may preclude an injured person from pursuing a negligence case against the responsible driver. Before accepting benefits, discuss your injury and accident with an experienced attorney who can also analyze your automobile insurance policy.