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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  • What is an FCE? The workers comp adjuster scheduled a functional capacity evaluation for me.

     

    After an injury in D.C. when I was hurt on the job, the workers comp adjuster scheduled an 

    FCE or functional capacity evaluation.

    What is an FCE?

    After an on the job injury in D.C., many times the workers compensation insurance adjuster or nurse case manager will schedule the injured worker for a functional capacity evaluation, or FCE.

    This is basically a test used to clarify the injured worker's limitations or work restrictions.  Sometimes a treating physician or IME doctor (insurance company doctor) will recommend it.

    Usually the test lasts for several hours and consists of lifting, moving, walking up stairs - somewhat like work hardening or certain types of physical therapy.  It is usually done under the direction of a physical therapist.

    An unbiased physical therapist will accurately record how much or how often the injured worker can lift, carry, or climb stairs or ladders.  As with all things involving workers compensation insurance companies, you have to be careful. 

    There are certain companies conduction FCEs that market themselves to insurance companies and get all of their business from them.  They are more likely to have physical therapists try to say that the injured worker has "pain behaviors" or "symptom magnification" and attempt to document this on their official-looking forms.

    These are physical therapists - they can show someone with an injury how to exercise, show them good form, count the reps, etc. but they can't give an opinion as to supposed psychological factors.  Unfortunately, some do, because that's what the workers comp insurance companies pay them for.  So they try to say you're faking, or malingering, or not trying (and the workers comp insurance company could then use this to stop or deny your benefits). 

    Have you been scheduled for a Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) or Independent Medical Exam (IME) and don't know what to expect? 

    Give us a call at 202-393-3320 for more information on how you can advocate for yourself during an IME or FCE.  It's a free, no obligation, confidential call and we'll let you know your next steps and get you a lot of good info on the whole workers comp system you're in.  

     

  • Can I Sue for My Son's Erb's Palsy?

    What is a brachial plexus injury and how can a D.C. or Maryland medical malpractice attorney tell if a child with a brachial plexus injury has a D.C. or Maryland medical malpractice case for damages because of the brachial plexus injury?

    A brachial plexus injury, sometimes also called Erb's palsy, is an injury to a collection of nerves that run from the spine, through the arm down to the hand.  Some of the symptoms of a brachial plexus injury can be paralysis of the arm, numbness in the arm or hand, loss of muscle functioning or control of the arm or hand (like not being able to grasp or pick things up), pain, and other problems with the shoulder arm and hand, like not being able to move it over a certain height.

    Sometimes a brachial plexus injury happens at birth and is caused by the delivering doctor putting too much pressure on the baby's neck during delivery causing the shoulder to be stretched.

    And there are different classifications of brachial plexus injuries, from avulsion (the most serious), caused when the nerve root is severed from the spinal cord, to neuropraxia, when the protective covering of the nerve is stretched (this is usually the least serious form of injury).

    How can we, as D.C. and Maryland medical malpractice attorneys, determine whether a child's brachial plexus injury was the result of medical malpractice?  We'd review the labor and delivery, NICU, and pediatric records of the child and have the records reviewed by medical experts practicing in these specialties to determine whether the child's brachial plexus injury could have been avoided.

    Are you wondering if your child's brachial plexus (Erb's Palsy) could have been prevented? Give us a call today and you'll speak with a real person who wants to hear your story today. All consultations are free, no obligation and completely confidential. 

    If your child had a brachial plexus injury, he may need medical treatment, rehab and therapies well into the future to make sure he can physically function at the highest level possible - make sure he has the money to provide everything he needs to deal with an injury like this. 

    Give us a call today at 202-393-3320 to get started. 

  • How Do I talk to my Doctor About Long Term Disability?

    How Do I talk to my Doctor About Long Term Disability?

     

    Your treating physician, or any doctor who has treated you for the injury or illness that caused your disability, is critical to a successful ERISA long term disability claim.  But how and when do you get your doctor involved?

    First - you have to read the disability insurance policy (this is the answer to a lot of long term disability claim questions...) to determine exactly how it defines disability.  Chances are, your doctor has a different definition of disability or thinks of the term "disability" differently.  

    Does disability mean you can't do any work at all?  Does it mean you can't do critical functions of your job?  Does it mean you can't do the essential functions of your job?  How long does it have to last?  Is there a medical condition that may be excluded? 

    We talk to a lot of physicians and experts for our clients, and most treating physicians do want to help their patients.

    But they don't know the answers to these types of questions.  And without knowing that, they can actually hurt your case, even though you are legitimately disabled and can't work due to a serious injury or medical condition.

    There are several things to keep in mind when talking to your doctor: 

    1.  Doctors are busy - really busy.  You may need to request and pay for extra time to see your doctor and discuss your condition because a routine visit may not give you enough time.

    2.  You need to give your doctor all of the important information (obviously this includes telling him the complete truth about your condition and limitations you have, but it's more than that).  This may be reports of other doctors you've seen, Functional Capacity Evaluations, testing results, physical therapy evaluations.  You can't assume that your doctor has seen these records or has all of this information.

    3.  Your doctor may need your job description - you can't assume he or she knows all of the physical aspects of what you do at work.  Here's an example:  Are you a security guard? Does that mean you sit at a fancy D.C. office lobby watching people swipe their fobs when they come back from lunch? Or does it mean you are a security guard at a place where you break up fights, apprehend suspects, detain people and carry a firearm?  Don't let your doctor guess about this.

    It's hard to talk to doctors and medical specialists - they're busy and would rather be practicing medicine than filling out forms and writing reports. But it's important to get your doctor all of the information, so it's in your medical records and you can use it in your long term disability claim.

    And remember – our How To Talk to Your Doctor Tips apply to all kinds of cases and situations!  Just ask.

     

     

  • What's an Injury Work Clinic and Should I Go There?

    These Workers Comp Clinics are a Sham.  You Can Get a Real Doctor for Your Work Injury.

    You get hurt on the job and you report it to your supervisor. You are then told that there’s a company doctor (or a workers' comp doctor, or a workers’ clinic). They tell you that everyone who gets hurt on the job goes to this clinic. It’s convenient. The "doctor" can see you right away (first of all, you're probably not even seeing a doctor, or if you are, it is not a doctor who is a specialist, and it's probably one who can't find any other job, but don't get me started on these "Workers Clinics" - I wouldn't let them treat my dog, and I don't even like my dog!).

    They'll tell you it’s free. So is all of your medical treatment under DC workers compensation.

    FORGET IT.

    You are entitled to proper medical care from an appropriate specialist if you are injured at work. In D.C., and Maryland, you have the right to choose your own physician. In Virginia, you can choose one of a panel of three qualified physicians.

    In D.C. and Maryland, workers’ compensation insurance companies try to trick you into going to a “work injury clinic," which they probably fund or subsidize. Who do you think the work injury clinic doctor would prioritize—you, or the insurance companies and employers that he/she works with? And that send the clinic all of its patients?

    Make sure you choose a physician who has his or her patient’s best interests at heart—not one who relies on insurance companies to send them patients or is bullied by insurance company nurses and adjusters into limiting expensive medical tests and treatment or rushing you back to work before your injury has healed.

    As workers’ compensation attorneys in D.C., we hear about a lot of these types of tricks insurance companies and employers try to use. And we’re tired of seeing insurance companies using these traps to delay workers' comp benefits to hard workers after an injury at work.

    That is why we wrote 5 Common Mistakes that will Absolutely Kill Your Workers Compensation Case: a report that lists five of the most common tricks, tactics and traps insurance companies use to deny, delay and pay less to workers and their families for medical treatment and workers' compensation benefits after an injury at work.

    And we’re giving this report to injured workers and their families for free. Call today at (202) 393-3320 or click here to order your copy today. 

  • I'm Young and Fit -- Why Should I Worry About Long-Term Disability?

    Long-Term Disability (LTD) plans are not just for people who are older, or have a history of illness in their family. Other types of insurance won't cover you if medical disaster strikes, and people on LTD are generally those who have serious illnesses or are catastrophically injured and no longer have the functional capacity to work in a meaningful way.

    Maybe that's not you at all....right now. But what happens if you are in a horrific car accident. Or you get cancer? None of us want to think about these things but consider this- if the unthinkable happens, do you want to be also plagued with trying to figure out how you are going to pay your mortgage and eat? 

    We don't sell these insurance policies and quite candidly, we know that on a large scale, ERISA plans difficult to administrate for a number of reasons. But if you need to appeal a denied claim and you have a serious injury or illness, we can help you.

    You're going to need our help.

    If you claim has been denied, we will review your appeal letter for free and let you know what we think your next steps might be. If you just want to have your policy reviewed for telltale signs of typical insurance loopholes, we can help with that, too.

    So, even if you are young, fit, healthy, and have no history of serious illness in your family, it will be worth it for you to your policy reviewed in advance to determine where the insurance company might try to stick it to you in the event you really are hurt or seriously ill.

    If you want to error on the side of safety, we will review your Long-Term Disability plan for you at a deeply discounted rate - so you can have peace of mind knowing whether or not your plan has those telltale signs -- the signs that indicate the claims will probably be denied due to the ERISA "discretion" given to insurance companies to deny claims based on "reasonableness."

    That's an entirely different conversation but what you really need to know is, you will need an attorney if you have to appeal a claim because you only get one shot.

    Give us a call at 202-393-3320. We have a flat fee to review your policy, a fee that will be credited toward assisting with your initial filing should you ever need to do so. And at the very least, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have the right next steps to take if you are ever caught in a catastrophic situation - that you won't be fighting tooth and nail to prove your disability to a group of people who are inclined to deny your claim and have the authority to do so.

  • My Child has Cerebral Palsy. A D.C. medical malpractice lawyer said it was not a case. Should I contact another lawyer?

    For a serious injury like cerebral palsy you should ALWAYS have another lawyer review the case.

    Absolutely.  In any matter involving cerebral palsy or other significant damages, it makes sense to get a second opinion from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.  Most lawyers just don't have experience handling specific types of medical malpractice cases against hospitals, HMOs or doctors, such as birth injury or birth trauma cases involving hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or perinatal asphyxia, prematurity and other causes of cerebral palsy and developmental delays.

    So they don't have the right experts, nursing consultants and medical researchers needed to determine whether your child's cerebral palsy was related to medical malpractice in DC.

    And most experienced malpractice lawyers in DC, Maryland and Virginia will always recommend a second opinion if they cannot take a case because they know other lawyers may see things differently, and any child with cerebral palsy or developmental delays deserves that.

    We always refer clients to other medical malpractice attorneys if we can't take their case.  And we recently obtained a verdict of $6.5 million dollars for a young man with cerebral palsy whose mother came to us after other lawyers had told her they did not have a case.  That case and the money we got for that young man changed his life, and his family's, forever.  They now live in a fully accessible home they own, where he has the best care and is close to family and friends.

    For us, that's what it's all about.

    So if your child has cerebral palsy or other severe injuries from medical care, call us at (202) 393 - 3320 so we can share our philosophy and system of evaluating medical malpractice cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia.  And you can order one of our free books, guides or reports to help get started today.

     

  • Can Nats' players get workers comp for their baseball injuries?

    After the World Series victory, the Washington Nationals and their fans, are still celebrating.  What a great run.

    But what happens to players, pro athletes in any sport in DC, who play professionally and get hurt?  It's easy to forget that so many players toil for years, paying their dues in the minor leagues, working their way up, the sacrifices they have made for years (and some never get a shot).  Many pro athletes don't have long term guaranteed contracts.

    And pro careers are short to begin with.  So what does a pro player do when an injury cuts his career short, or severely limits it?

    That's where we come in.  You see, professional athletes in D.C. (in all sports) are entitled to workers comp benefits, just like every other person who works in DC.  Our practice focuses on people who are seriously hurt when their wage earning potential is at its highest point.  We work hard to educate workers who may not know they can get workers comp benefits - how could they?  Pro players, and other people at the top of their field, are too busy to even consider this. 

    We find a lot of players don't know that they can get benefits for permanent injuries even after they retire.  

    We're not agents - we only focus on maximizing your injury case - but we will work with your agent, keeping both you and him informed.  And we have the only lawyer who literally wrote the book on D.C. workers compensation. 

    If you're a pro athlete hurt playing for a team in D.C., call us at (202) 393 - 3320 for a confidential, no charge, no obligation assessment of your specific injury.

     

  • Do I need a lawyer for my long term disability case in DC?

     

    Yes.  If your long term disability benefits are provided by your employer, they are probably governed by a federal law called ERISA.  And there are a number of requirements under ERISA and your insurance policy that you need to understand, comply with and work through to give yourself the best shot at winning on appeal.  

    Because of that, this is one area of the law where it is very difficult to appeal your case after you get a letter denying benefits from your disability insurance company.

    You need a lawyer who really understands how the appeals process works, the medicine, can work with experts and (most important) can work with you to help you tell your story.

    Here are 5 red flags that tell you your lawyer doesn't understand long term disability cases:

    1.  In your first meeting or phone call, he needs to do some research (and may want to bill you for this) to explain how the process works, from the time you get the letter denying or terminating your benefits through the mechanics of what filing an ERISA disability lawsuit looks like.

    2.  He does not mention ERISA (the federal law that employer sponsored disability plans fall under) or doesn't know what it stands for.

    3.  Talks with you about whether to file a lawsuit in Superior Court (in D.C.) or some other state court, whether you will have depositions, be able to develop your case through discovery and go to "trial" and thinks you can sue the disability insurance company for bad faith or punitive damages to increase the amount of your award.

    4.   Doesn't tell you how and when to get the entire claim file from the insurance company, and why that is critical.

    5.  Doesn't tell you his plan for filing your appeal - what it should contain, how long it will be, how it will be developed and drafted, and how long it will take - or leads you to believe it is a simple matter of writing a letter saying you disagree with the insurance company's decision denying or terminating your disability benefits.

     

    Don't risk everything you've worked so hard for because of a serious injury or illness - if you received a denial letter from the disability insurance company call us so we can review it for you and give you our thoughts on how to get started (this is both free and confidential).

    Remember, under ERISA, you only have 180 days to appeal after you get the denial letter.  So call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to get started.

     

  • My husband was hurt in D.C. because another contractor (not his employer) was negligent. How long does he have to file a lawsuit?

    Question:

    My husband was hurt on a construction site in Washington D.C. because another contractor (not his employer) was negligent, and needed knee surgery. He received workers comp benefits under a Compensation Order. How long does he have to file a lawsuit against the subcontractor that caused his injury?

     

    Answer:

    He has two years to file his case against the subcontractor who caused the injury.  

    Unfortunately, not many lawyers know that.

    The subcontractor, or any company that is not his employer would be considered a Third Party. If you receive benefits under a Compensation Order in D.C., you have two years to file your case against the Third Party - and remember that could also be an individual person as long as he isn't a co-worker employed by the same company as your husband.  If you don't receive those benefits under a Compensation Order, for example, the insurance company is voluntarily paying benefits, you have three years to file the case against the Third Party. 

    We see this a lot in our construction cases, and we represent a lot of construction workers.  There is a lot of overlap in the two cases, and in order to maximize your recovery for your serious injuries, it's critical that you get a lawyer who specializes in both workers comp and serious injury cases.

    Here's just one quick example - you need to make sure you know that settling the 3rd party case without the workers comp insurance company's approval could extinguish your right to workers comp benefits (in some cases those benefits are more valuable to you).


    If you have any questions about whether you or someone you know has received benefits under a Compensation Order (its confusing, so you may not know) call us and we can talk about it. You can reach us a 202-393-3320 and there will always be a person available to do a free informational interview with you.

  • Why Don't You Have My Medical Records Yet?

     

    It goes without saying that the process associated with a workers’ compensation case can be emotionally and financially strenuous. Because of your injury, you may be going without pay or only being paid a fraction of your typical salary. Your potential physical limitations, combined with the financial stress you may be experiencing, can be difficult to manage while trying to carry out the normal day-to-day tasks in your life. For this reason, it is natural to want your case to move along as rapidly as possible, and your attorney should want this for you as well.

     

    Unfortunately, hospitals, insurance adjusters, and the general nature of legal procedures can make workers’ compensation cases take longer to resolve than you would like. In these cases, it is helpful to understand why something that you may see as quick and easy – like retrieving your medical records – can take quite a long time and delay the next step in your case.

     

    Sometimes it can be incredible difficult for some patients – and those requesting records on their behalf, like a family member or lawyer – to retrieve their records. This process can be quite confusing and vary by hospital or medical center. Sometimes, there is no explanation at all from the hospital as to why your records haven’t been retrieved in a reasonable amount of time. And even when a hospital streamlines the process of initially requesting the records, it can often take four to six weeks (or more) for you or your lawyer to actually receive them. Your lawyer may call the hospital or medical center every day requesting an update or expediting of the records, but hospitals seem to operate on their own timeline, regardless of this pressure. 

     

    It is important to remember that the nature of this process can be frustrating and may seem unnecessarily time-consuming, but having a lawyer who is dedicated to following up for you – whether with respect to your medical records, insurance adjuster, or opposing counsel – is essential. If you are wondering if your lawyer is at fault for the lack of progress in your case, remember that many of the procedural steps that must be completed in order for your case to progress are out of their hands. 

     

     

    However, it is important to hire a lawyer who is dedicated to you and your case, and who is eager to take on all the hassles associated with your case so that you can heal as quickly as possible.

     

    If you suspect that your attorney isn't following up on your records, or moving your case forward you should contact your attorney to confirm. If your attorney isn't prioritizing your case, that's a totally different issue.

     

    And you can often speed up the process to retrieve your medical records by retrieving them yourself, and delivering them to your attorney. The medical facility will expedite the process for the patient, at times.

     

    Learn more about a client's responsibility when it comes to medical records here.

     

    If you believe you have a workers’ compensation case or have questions about the process of getting the compensation you deserve, call us today at 202-393-3320.

     

    We are happy to provide more information about D.C. workers’ compensation cases at no cost, and will even send you our signature book, Protect Your Rights, at no cost or obligation.