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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If I don't get a lawyer for my case, where will I be in five years?
Do You Really Need a Lawyer for Your Workers Comp Case?
People who have been through a major medical trauma, like a work injury, a case of medical malpractice or a serious auto accident tend to not be thinking very clearly. When you're in that space you're more thinking "what do I need to do, to get through just today," and not so much like "where is this going to take me five years down the road?"
And that is totally okay, and acceptable, and normal. However, we have watched many people go through the process of recovering from a serious accident, and many of them don't know that five years down the road their life could look radically different.
And they're unprepared when life hands them major changes.
You may be asking, like what?
Here is a "for-instance."
A union worker who didn't know his rights, and didn't realize he might need an attorney, literally threw away hundreds of dollars every single week because his "helpful" claims adjuster told him to file his workers' comp claim forms in the wrong state (the worker didn't know the workers comp benefit rate in Maryland was $400 less that in D.C. - but the insurance adjuster sure did).
5 years down the road he may be unable to return to work, unable to properly care for his family, and unable to fully recover his lost wages because of the limits in the state where his claim is filed.
There are a few other situations, which confidentiality prevents me from discussing, where people have quite possibly foregone large settlements because at the time they didn't think they needed an attorney.
The reality is that you may not need an attorney, especially if you have a relatively minor injury and can return to the same type of work. And you can't trust every attorney to be up front with you about that. But, we will be honest with you because we only take serious cases where we can make a big impact in someone's life. We make it a practice not to waste your time, or ours.
So give us a call today at 202-393-3320 for a free review of the facts of your case. If necessary, we will take a look at your medical records (confidentially with no cost associated) to help you determine whether or not you need a lawyer. And if you do need a lawyer for your serious injury case, you've come to the right place.
Here's to being happy, healthy, and free five years down the road!
(And for the right people - we help make that happen)
Is my Medical Malpractice case in the DMV worth it ?
Your Medical Malpractice Case in DC, Maryland or Virginia: how do you know if its worth it?
You've probably heard before the phrase "I'm not the suing type" or "I don't think I really need to get into all of that. And that's fine for a small case from a car accident or other injury that isn't serious. But what if you can no longer feed your family or need 24/7 medical care because a hospital violated patient safety rules - or worse, your child will never walk, talk or feed herself because of medical malpractice. What then?
What a lot of people fail to recognize is: having the right lawyer in your medical malpractice case takes away the anxiety, (at least the right lawyer will do that -- you may be entirely right about the wrong kind of lawyer being a headache....)
At Donahoe Kearney, you've heard us say that we're different -- and we are. We don't file lawsuits unless the injuries are life changing and we can hold the hospital or doctor accountable and really help you or your child get the money (yes these cases come down to money) that's needed to take care of you. We don't file frivolous lawsuits and we have a system we've developed over 20 years that is specifically tailored to you.
Remember, the time limits or statutes of limitations in medical malpractice cases are different in DC, Maryland and Virginia, and there are times when you received medical care in both DC and Maryland or Virginia.
Generally, Virginia has the shortest time limits - 2 years for medical malpractice, personal injury (including car accidents where someone was injured) and wrongful death.
Maryland and D.C. typically have a 3 year statute of limitations for medical malpractice, personal injury and wrongful death.
But these can vary - and the statute of limitations for children is longer (call us to discuss the specifics of where you got the medical care, your specific situation, and we will walk you through this).
So if you've had a child with cerebral palsy, brachial plexus, developmental delay from prematurity, call us so we can get you the information you need (everything the hospital won't tell you) to evaluate your medical malpractice case. Because if you have a child with special needs or cerebral palsy, there are even more reasons why having an attorney take a look at your case right away could make your child's life and yours better in the long run, even if it seems scary or like a hassle in the short run (plus we are upfront with you and talk to you about everything - we take the uncertainty out of it for you).
Why you shouldn't wait
The primary reason why you shouldn't wait to have a lawsuit investigated is that you can start helping yourself or your child today. You can do this by doing everything you can to get the resources you or your child need to thrive - and those resources may be from a medical malpractice case if the hospital or doctor was responsible for your condition or injury.
To do this right (and another reason not to delay) in order to properly and accurately build our case, we need to be monitoring the child's treatment and developmental milestones, and analyzing the medical records over a long period of time. We have a lot of expertise in conditions like cerebral palsy, sepsis, pre-eclampsia, prematurity and other conditions affecting infants and children.
Here's how to get started with a medical malpractice case if you've had a life changing injury
Call us today to find out how, and why (202-393-3320) we only accept certain cases with life changing injuries and why we won't take your case unless you have a permanent injury or condition like paralysis, cerebral policy, brain damage, developmental delay or a life changing condition.
We know that this is a difficult process for you to go through, and so we will be very up front with you from the very beginning. We will make an honest analysis of your case after we've had a chance to review the medical records and evaluate the case with medical experts. We will inform you of what happens with all the proceedings and how the jurisdictions work. We will give you an accurate (although estimated) timeline for how long all of this will take, and what you can expect to get at the end of it all.
Our case results speak for themselves. If you have a child who has cerebral palsy, your child may need millions of dollars of future medical care and assistance, just for their basic needs. And your child will probably outlive you as well. How will you be able to provide for him or her?
You may be wondering how you are going to pay a first-rate attorney like us over the course of many years, but don't worry. We require nothing up front, and we take our fee out of the settlement so if we don't win your case, we don't take a fee. It's called "contingency fee."
So give us a call today. You may have more questions than we've answered here, and we'd love to see how we can help.
Call us at 202-393-3320
What if the doctors are recommending surgery, but I don't want it?
Can the insurance company force you to have surgery?
One of our clients recently asked me "can the insurance company force me to have surgery?" He has a serious injury, and both his treating physician and the insurance company doctors are recommending surgery. But he is a smart guy, and he knows that surgery doesn't always "take." There are well documented risks with any significant surgery and he and his doctor have discussed those. In fact, we currently have another client who is considering a second spinal fusion because his first one didn't "take," and his pain has progressively gotten back to pre-surgery levels.
These are great guys- fantastic workers who got seriously hurt at work - and who didn't deserve any of this.
Nobody wants to trade chronic pain for painful surgery recovery, only to be followed by more chronic pain. And although most qualified surgeons put the odds of a successful spinal fusion to improve pain in your favor, it's still a big decision for any patient.
And there is concern, according to US News and World Reports, that spinal fusions are over-utilized.
Have you been seriously injured at work and your doctor, or the insurance doctor is recommending surgery?
Call us today as 202-393-3320
So, back to the question.
Can the insurance company force you to have surgery?
The answer is no, so don't listen to the insurance company and the adjuster on this. They cannot force you to undergo an invasive surgical procedure in a D.C. workers comp case. But if surgery is being recommended by your treating physician and the independent (defense medical) exam, doctor, or any second opinion doctor you went to on your own (and we advise our clients to get a second opinion) it is something you should consider and determine what will be best for you and your family, both now and long term. Surgery can give relief and increase mobility, which is critical as you get older.
If the insurance adjuster is smart, he or she may recognize that ultimately surgery is a gamble for the insurance company as well (they are responsible for anything that goes wrong in the surgery, or if it makes your condition worse) plus it's more expensive for the workers comp insurance company than conservative treatment. So, it really depends on what you decide - what you think is best for your serious injury and how it will affect you.
The good news is, we have a strategy, for you.
For our clients, we know the details and risks of their medical treatment and we can give them all of the information they need, and options for their DC workers comp case so they can decide the best course of action. Let's face it - for some serious medical conditions and injuries, surgery is the treatment of choice. But we would never allow a workers comp insurance company to force a client into having surgery if he or she wasn't comfortable having surgery, so we would work hard to negotiate a different outcome for them, such as a settlement or long-term pain management and other types of conservative medical treatment. On the other hand if our client wants surgery and is aware of the risks, we will fight for that as well.
It's critical for you and your family to get all of the information you need about the workers comp system before making an important decision on surgery - call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to get the information you need.
What is the maximum workers compensation benefit rate in DC?
In DC, the maximum workers comp benefit rate an injured worker receives when he cannot work changes from year to year.
In 2018, the max compensation rate is $1,491.90. Here's what that means and how it works:
If you're hurt at work in DC, or hurt working for a DC company, your workers comp benefits (the amount the workers comp insurance company pays you while you can't work due to your injuries) is 2/3 of your average weekly wages. The average weekly wage is averaged over the 26 weeks, or six months before you got hurt (so if your income varies because of overtime, bonuses, per diem, etc., save your pay stubs so you can verify the insurance company included all of your income).
If you have a second job in DC, and worked at the second job during the six months before the injury, you should add that to the calculation as well - your workers comp benefits will be based on combining the income from both jobs (a lot of people don't know this).
How does the maximum compensation rate work? It's basically the top cut off of what workers comp insurance companies have to pay you if your average weekly wage is high enough.
So if you were hurt at work in 2018, if your average weekly wage is $2,237.85 or higher, you would receive the max compensation rate.
It's also important to get the average weekly wage right - making sure it includes bonuses, overtime, raises, combining income from your second job, etc. - because that will determine the benefit rate for other DC workers comp benefits you may get in the future.
Here are 2 examples of workers comp benefits you may get in the future:
If you return to light duty work (can't do your regular job because of the injury, you have medical restrictions, or the doctor says you can't work as many hours) and you're now earning less money than before your injury, you should get temporary partial disability benefits.
If your injury is permanent and causes permanent damage to an arm, leg, hand, foot , etc. (not the neck or back - but that could be the cause of the original injury) you should get permanent partial disability benefits.
Both types of benefits can be paid at the maximum compensation rate for 2018.
Most people have questions - and you don't want to make a mistake and lose money on this. So don't let your adjuster, as nice as she may seem to be, take advantage of you on this (that is her job after all...)
Call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 for the free resources you need to make sure you don't make a mistake and get taken advantage of.
Can I sue Lyft or Uber if I'm in a serious accident while taking a car in DC?
You can sue Uber or Lyft if they cause an accident in the DMV.
So - if the Uber or Lyft driver was at fault and caused the crash in DC, Maryland and Virginia, you can sue them. Any time another driver (or the company he works for) doesn't follow the rules of the road and causes serious injuries, they should be held accountable. But remember, they have to cause the crash - in other words, just being a passenger in an Uber or Lyft car doesn't mean you can sue them if another car hits the Uber you are in, for example - but you would have a claim against that driver and his insurance.
It's been widely reported that both services carry $1 million of liability insurance that is available to pay for your harms and losses as long as they were caused by one of their drivers who was working as a driver at the time.
Any situation in which you were seriously hurt due to someone else's actions might lead to a personal injury claim, or a lawsuit to hold the responsible person or company accountable and to pay for your harms and losses. But the question you are asking is, when you're in an accident in an Uber or Lyft, which driver is responsible and do they have insurance?
Let me break it down for you. If you are in your own car, and somebody plows into you, who do you get an insurance claim against? The other driver of course, unless it's a hit and run or they are underinsured (or underinsured) -- in which case you absolutely need to click here.
So, if you are in a car accident and your friend is driving their car, whose insurance is going to pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, and future expenses? Hopefully (again unless they are uninsured or underinsured) your friend's insurance will cover all of it. The exact same thing is true of Lyft or Uber.
Do you have questions that you want to ask right now? Call us at 202-393-3320. We have qualified intake specialists waiting for your call.
Lyft drivers required to carry insurance and here's how it breaks down. Similarly, Uber drivers are required to carry insurance, but what if they are not driving for the service, they're just on a personal trip and only have the state minimum which in the DMV is a sadly inadequate $25,000.00?
What is $25,000.00 going to do for you
if you are in a serious accident?
Here's the thing about who we represent in serious auto accidents -- they carry Underinsured Motorists Coverage, or UIM. Why? Because if you are in a serious accident your medical bills could easily exceed $100,000.00 (especially with hospitalization, surgery and future care and treatment) and, what about for your lost wages if you can no longer work?
There are enough distracted drivers in the DMV to make this a serious issue. How many of those people driving angrily, or talking on their cell phones, are carrying the state's minimum on insurance?
Kind of a scary proposition, isn't it?
The reality is that no matter how serious your injury is, if you aren't properly insured there's not much we (or any attorneys) can do for you.
We manage your medical records and bills, and negotiate a higher settlement from the insurance company.
But if you don't have proper insurance, we don't have much to negotiate with.
So what's the lesson? Get UIM insurance! It's not expensive, and you'll never be sorry you got it.
And if you want us to review your uninsured motorist coverage, just call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and we'll arrange that with you.
Can a construction worker in DC sue another contractor for injuries even if he gets workers comp?
When a construction worker is hurt in DC, he can sue the contractor that caused the injuries even if he gets workers comp for being hurt on the job.
In DC, a construction worker hurt on the job because another company or contractor was negligent can sue that contractor. We call that a "third party case" because the other company isn't his employer. He can hold the other contractor responsible for his damages even though he gets workers comp benefits for being hurt on the job.
Here's a real life example of how it works:
A concrete finisher was working at a construction site in DC where they were building a parking garage. They were preparing the foundation of the garage, so had dug the holes to fill with concrete and serve as the footers. The holes were 4 feet deep and had to be filled with rebar that was tied off to strengthen the concrete.
After the concrete workers completed the rebar phase, and everything was inspected, it was time to pour the concrete. Concrete trucks were ordered and lined up at the construction site, ready to go, because the concrete has to be poured relatively quickly.
The concrete workers or finishers, have to smooth the concrete and vibrate it as it is poured. The concrete or cement truck driver begins the pour and raises and lowers the chute by controls on his truck.
For this job, the holes for the footings were so big that the concrete workers had to lay a walk board across the hole so they could get to the middle and vibrate the concrete. When one of them was on the walk board, over the exposed rebar, the cement mixer driver activated the controls on his truck and the chute where the concrete came out, knocking the walk board and the man on it, into the rebar.
The rebar broke several bones in the concrete workers leg and tore tendons when he fell into it. He was in surgery to repair the damage later that day.
Since he got hurt on the job in DC, he received workers comp benefits. But under DC law, he could also sue the company that delivered the concrete (that's who the cement mixer driver worked for) for all the harm they caused him because of their driver's negligence (and OSHA safety violations).
And the DC law that allows this applies to any worker injured by someone else - a worker who is in a car accident at work, a construction site accident caused by another company, a fall at a building you go to for a meeting.
It is complicated when you get hurt at work and it's someone else's fault - and there are critical mistakes to avoid - but don't limit yourself and your family to just getting workers comp benefits. You owe it to yourself to investigate what else can be done (before it's too late).
Need more info about third party cases, negligence and workers comp? Call us at (202) 393 - 3320 or order one of our free books, guides and reports. But don't wait - these cases all have time limits that will close the door forever on your ability to hold the other company responsible for what they did, and prevent it from happening in the future.
Do you struggle with a serious injury caused by a hospital in D.C.?
You're not alone.
Some estimates put deaths (not just injuries) due to medical malpractice at 58,000 per year - that's a national outrage. And many conditions require around the clock medical care and treatment. But how do you know if your injury or medical condition was due to malpractice in a DC hospital, instead of just a terrible outcome?
You see, all medical malpractice is preventable - by definition. What we mean is that there are established patient safety rules designed to keep patients safe that doctors and hospitals have to follow. Thank about it, every job has rules. It could be as simple as a checklist, or an order of doing things, or a system for following up on a test that was done.
It's usually simple steps to keep patients safe. But a lot of hospitals don't have them or don't follow them, and that's where the problem comes in.
One clue is that you went into the hospital for a routine procedure - a minor surgery, for example, and had a catastrophic injury or condition that wasn't related to the surgery at all - like a problem with anesthesia. Or that you were given the wrong medication after surgery, or the wrong dosage, or something you were allergic to.
And unfortunately, we see medication errors a lot - many times, it is not just one person in the hospital who makes a mistake. It is the doctor ordering the wrong medication, one that may have severe side effects or consequences for someone in your condition, maybe the medication is contraindicated. The nurse then gives you the medication but doesn't follow up and monitor you after she gives it, to see if you are having complications. And the hospital pharmacist doesn't tell the providers that the medication is contraindicated.
We call that a system failure - and it should never happen. It should not happen to adults and it happens at prestigious children's hospitals, where babies and children are severely injured due to medical malpractice - and that should never happen to kids no matter how inspiring their struggle to overcome their disability is.
If you're struggling with a life changing injury after being in the hospital, you need to take action - to get the best advice and guidance on how to make things right. If you're this kind of person, call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 or order a completely free, no obligation book guide or report we have written to help you get started.
But don't put it off - the sooner you take action, the sooner you can take back control of your life (and hold the hospital accountable so they don't do this to someone else).
What Should I Do if My Doctor Says I'm Fine But I'm Not?
Here's the thing about doctors; sometimes they are in a hurry. Sometimes they don't pay attention. Sometimes they are arrogant. And sometimes the combination of those things results in a misdiagnosis.
The Washington Post ran a story this week about a woman, Lina Kharnak, who turned out to have endometriosis, but didn't find this out until years after she had begun investigating the source of her pain. She had painful, heavy periods, radiating pain in her back and leg, and UTI's, constipation, and trouble urinating for two weeks before her period. She was told it could be sciatica or spinal stenosis, or side effects from being 25 pounds overweight.
She eventually saw a specialist who told her that she didn't have endometriosis and that she should stop "self-diagnosing." She went to yet another specialist, who told her that it was not endometriosis. She was told once again that her problem was not gynecological.
They didn't believe her. The doctors never stopped to consider other causes and never referred her to another specialist or consultant for a second opinion.
But she was not to be deterred. She sought out a longtime friend and gynecologist, who did a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis. Turned out "the kidney was badly swollen because it was blocked and unable to drain urine properly." The kidney had stopped functioning altogether.
She looked up an "endo specialist" (practice mostly focusing on endometriosis) while she was scheduled to have the dead kidney removed. This specialist could see that even though she didn't have traditional endometriosis pain, an MRI revealed a widespread disease. They scheduled an intense and difficult nine-hour surgery to perform a hysterectomy and remove her ovaries. She had to consult with a colorectal surgeon, a nephrologist and a neurologist in order to prepare for the surgery. The surgery was successful and Ms. Kharnak has "returned to work free of the pain that had largely defined the past seven years of her life."
As with anything else, there are some really good doctors and there are some not so great doctors. It's easy for doctors to be arrogant and dismissive. They have education and power that most people don't have, and that kind of power needs to have a system for checks and balances to make sure mistakes get fixed and patients don't get hurt because of them. That's why Patient Safety Rules exist. There have to be safeguards against doctors being dismissive and failing to order or follow up on tests because they are in a hurry, or for any other reason.
Do you believe that Patient Safety Rules have been violated in the case of your medical treatment or the medical treatment of a loved one and that led to a misdiagnosis or serious injury? Give us a call today at 202-393-3320.
Ms. Kharnak was convinced that there was something wrong with her, probably largely because she was the one who had to deal with the pain. Endometriosis is scar-like tissue that usually lines the uterus building up outside the uterine wall. It's a very painful condition and it would have been simple for the doctor to conduct the scans (the CT, MRI) that would rule out endometriosis for sure. Instead they told her that she wasn't presenting with normal symptoms (some of them, not all of them) and gave her other diagnosis, like sciatica or pain due to being overweight.
We want to be able to trust our doctors, but there is a gut check "test" that should go along with your medical treatment. Does it pass the "gut check" test? One of our clients recently told me that a doctor is pushing surgery, even though this isn't what the client wants. Another has come to me with questions about the efficacy and safety of epidural steroid injections. And their questions are fantastic; yes, you should be questioning the doctor's treatment. Not to the point of getting in the way of your own recovery, but if it doesn't feel right there is a chance your gut it worth paying attention to. Decisions about surgery or other invasive treatments shouldn't be taken lightly.
Give us a call today at 202-393-3320 if you believe that you have been misdiagnosed or Patient Safety Rules have been violated.
I have a serious injury, but do I have a medical malpractice case?
Medical Malpractice at a Hospital in D.C.
Many times we get phone calls from folks who have been legitimately, seriously injured in a hospital and they want to know if they should file a lawsuit against the doctor, HMO, or hospital. And many times, people have legitimate claims of negligence or medical malpractice. But the thing about medical malpractice is that there is a lot to consider besides just the injury, and a lot of people don't know that there are sometimes years of investigation that go into a medical malpractice claim before a lawsuit is even filed.
Especially cases involving children or babies - sometimes the extent of the harm won't be known until the child is 4 or 5 years old (other times it is obvious - in cases involving cerebral palsy, damage to the child's brain, or paralysis). So, a good DC medical malpractice attorney will let you know not only how long you have to file a case (to make sure you are within the statute of limitations - the time limit for filing a case) but how long it will take to determine the extent of your child's injuries or developmental delays.
In fact, medical malpractice claims are so hard to pursue that only a handful of attorneys are actually practicing in this area.
The first thing that you need to prove is that the doctor, nurse, tech, or hospital was negligent. This can be established by reviewing medical records, medical literature and texts, hospital protocols, the practices of other hospitals across the country and other information to determine the set of patient safety rules the hospital should have followed - this is often called the standard of care. You have to also prove that violating those rules was a cause of your injury.
This can be determined initially by reviewing your medical records, medical literature, protocols, etc. but it also requires analysis and testimony by expert witnesses, which typically costs thousands of dollars (another reason not many lawyers handle DC medical malpractice cases - they are expensive).
Now, if people don't have a serious, permanent injury, why do we tell them we can't help them, even if the hospital was negligent?
I need a lot of medical treatment because of a medical malpractice issue in a hospital. How can I get the medical care I need?
When medical malpractice causes serious injuries, it means you'll need a lot of medical care you never planned on.
When hospitals, HMOs and healthcare companies commit medical malpractice in DC, Maryland or Virginia, they should pay for the harms they cause. Sometimes that is easy to determine - a construction worker who can't work anymore after becoming paralyzed due to medical malpractice can determine how much money he would have earned in his career.
But what about future medical treatment and other needs caused by medical malpractice? How do you make sure you and your family get everything you need to live as normally and independently as possible after a life changing injury?
As part of our medical malpractice cases, we analyze everything that you need - all of the future medical care caused by the malpractice, plus the equipment, modifications to your home and car, everything to make sure you can live as independently and be as mobile as possible.
The cost of all of the medical care you'll need are part of the damages (the harms they caused and should pay for) in a medical malpractice case.
But at least in DC, Maryland and Virginia, hospitals, HMOs and doctors rarely admit when they've done wrong, so they probably won't offer to pay for all of the medical care you need (and certainly won't tell you everything you're entitled to).
Instead, we have to hold them accountable.
There is a lot to process when you or a family member have been seriously harmed by medical malpractice - talking to us will help you focus on your health and recovery.
Call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to get started - we'll send you a free, no obligation guide to medical malpractice in DC, Maryland and Virginia that will help.