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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The Insurance Company Said There is a Time Limit to See a Doctor. Is That True?
My brother was in a car accident in Maryland where it was the other driver's fault. How long does he have to see a doctor for his injuries?
The insurance company said there is a time limit to see a doctor. Is that true?
When someone is hurt in an accident, there is no time limit to see a doctor or get medical care. But to recover for injuries caused by a negligent driver, the medical care and treatment must be related to the accident. Obviously, if it was a fender bender and your brother waited 9 months to see a doctor, that doctor's visit probably wouldn't be related to the accident.
The best advice is that if you're hurt, get checked out by a doctor to make sure the injuries are not more severe than originally thought.
Realistically, the insurance company (or a jury if your injuries are serious and your case goes to trial) will not believe you were hurt in the accident if you didn't get medical treatment in the ER or from a doctor soon after.
And if you have severe, life-changing injuries caused by a serious accident, those can require lifetime medical care and treatment. As far as the case against the other driver's insurance company is concerned, you don't have to actually get all that medical treatment before your case settles or goes to trial.
We see that all the time in our cases usually we hire experts, life care planners and physicians, to analyze the future medical care needs and examine you so they can testify about all of the medical care and treatment you will need in the future. So there is no time limit on the future medical care and treatment; the present value cost of the future medical care and medical expenses must be taken into account at the time of settlement or verdict.
Have you been in a serious auto accident in DC, Maryland, or Virginia? Call us today at 202-393-3320 - we can get you answers today.
How, Why and When Should You Sue for Malpractice in DC, Maryland, and Virginia?
How, Why and When you should sue a doctor or hospital for medical malpractice in Washington, D.C.
We think that before you sue a doctor or hospital for malpractice, you, or someone in your family must be catastrophically injured - that means:
A) you need lifetime medical care and treatment for your injuries or medical condition, B) you can't work and C) you (or someone in your family) can't do many things the rest of us take for granted.
So, why do we start with your medical condition before we ask other questions?
The reasons we start here, with your injuries and medical condition (and most of the best medical malpractice lawyers do) are important:
- We need to understand your medical condition so we can determine how best to help you, what you need and what you want.
2. A medical malpractice case is difficult, expensive and time consuming (most people don't know that hospitals and doctors win most of the time), so we need to make sure you will have a good chance of getting what you want out of the case.
3. Minor injuries are not worth it (for you and for us) - you will spend more than you will recover.
If you've had a devastating injury or death in the family because of medical mistakes, what is the next step?
Click here for more information OR simply call us at 202-393-3320
What if My Company Doesn't Have Light Duty Work for Me?
What is light duty when you're on workers' comp in DC, Maryland or Virginia?
Before going back to work, the doctor can put you on light duty. Basically, he gives you restrictions that say you can do some activities, but not everything your job requires. Usually your doctor will say you can't lift over 20 pounds after a back injury, or no overhead work after a torn rotator cuff surgery, or no climbing ladders after a knee surgery. If you have any type of restriction from your work injury that prevents you from doing your regular job, and your company offers you work within those restrictions, that's light duty.
Did you know that sometimes light duty can actually help you recover more quickly, and get you back to work in shorter time? See how light duty can help you here.
But, what if your employer doesn't have light duty?
What should you do? Remember, light duty means that you're at work performing some duties (not the full duties of your job) and you are being paid accordingly. Also, remember, if you are earning less money than you were at the time you got hurt (and that's per week, not just your hourly rate) you should be getting workers comp checks to make up the difference while you're on light duty.
The simple way to calculate it is this: If you are getting paid the same per week (with overtime and bonuses calculated for your weekly wage) you will get a paycheck from your company again and you won't get any further workers' comp benefit.
Here's how it works: if you're making less money on light duty because you are working less hours or can't do overtime like you used to, your workers comp benefits would be 2/3 of the difference between your wages at the time you got hurt and the new light duty job. These benefits are called Temporary Partial Disability benefits.
Light duty doesn't stop you from getting your disability benefits, but if you're offered light work duty work within your restrictions and you turn it down, the workers comp insurance company can stop or reduce your benefits. (And you should bet they will).
Here's the best part - where a lot of people get mixed up: IF your company doesn't offer light duty work, they have to continue to pay your full workers compensation rate.
Many construction companies do not have light duty in the trade. So, even though a doctor may say you can return to some work with restrictions, until you are cleared to return to full duty, your workers' comp benefits should continue at the full rate. So it is really important to get a note or disability slip from your doctor indicating any restrictions or limitations you have because of the work injury.
Workers' comp check coming late?
Click here to see what to do. We know that just because the workers' compensation check is late, it doesn't mean that you can pay your bills late, so here's the answer to another common question involving workers comp benefits and light duty.
You're probably under a lot of stress due to the uncertainty - most people are - because how can you know what or how much you should be getting, or how to get the best medical care for your injuries, or what type of benefits you can get in the future?
Don't worry - we help you with all that.
Still not sure? It's a complicated and confusing system that favors insurance companies. Remember, the insurance company has a team of specialized adjusters, lawyers, doctors, nurses, case managers - all working against you (that's their job, and they're good at it) from the moment you get hurt.
So just call us at 202-393-3320 and you will speak with a real person who wants to hear your story. We make time to answer questions about work injuries in D.C., Maryland and Virginia every week and we'd love to hear from you.
My Doctor Prescribed Me the Wrong Drug. What Should I Do?
Prescription Drug errors can come in many forms.
And, they are more common than you think. Here's what can happen..
1). Your doctor simply prescribed you the wrong drug for your condition.
2). Your doctor prescribed a dose that was too low or too high for your specific problem.
3). Your doctor prescribed you a drug you're allergic to (and they have your allergy information on file).
4). The pharmacist mislabeled the drug you've been given so you don't know of side effects.
5). Your doctor prescribed a drug that doesn't interact well with the other drugs you've been prescribed.
All of these mistakes can cause injuries - sometimes minor, sometimes major, and sometimes even fatal. And all of these injuries are preventable. You'd be surprised at how easy some of these medical errors are to make - when it comes to dosage, for example, a wrongly placed decimal point can mean 100 times too low or too high a dosage for a patient. Of course, this could be a serious issue.
And that's why hospitals, pharmacies and doctor's offices need systems in place to prevent medical mistakes. Many times, medical malpractice cases turn on whether the system failed - or there was no system at all to prevent harm to the patient.
So, if you feel you've been prescribed the wrong drug, there is plenty you should do. First, contact your doctor or health care provider and inquire about the prescription. Take note of the side effects you are having (and not having), and let your health-care provider know if you are not getting better.
Keep a copy of the prescription and the medication you were given. You'll want to show this to your doctor so he or she knows exactly what you have taken and how much.
Follow the instructions and if something doesn't seem right, especially if you are on a long term medication for a serious disease or illness, get medical attention right away.
Hopefully, most medication mistakes, or the wrong prescription, will be caught before the patient is harmed. But if a medication error causes you serious harm, how do you hold the pharmacy, doctor or hospital accountable?
If you've been seriously injured by a medical error like these in a DC, MD or VA hospital, make sure to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney so that you can start getting all of the information you need to hold the physician or pharmacy accountable.
Call us today at 202-393-3320 to have a confidential conversation with one of our attorneys about your issue today.
My ERISA Long-Term Disability was Denied by Unum. If I Win My Case, What Damages Can I Get?
What does winning your long term disability claim mean?
Usually, long term disability insurance policies are purchased by your employer and provided to you as an employment benefit. And any claim under the policy is covered by a federal law (ERISA - the Employee Retirement Income Security Act).
And the policy is supposed to provide coverage, or a benefit, usually 60% of your income, if you can't work because of a medical condition or injury. As a practical matter, ERISA and the court decisions on ERISA long term disability claims, favor the insurance companies, and this leads many of them to deny your claim for benefits, or terminate your benefits before you can go back to work.
So you may have to appeal your case. And if that appeal (which is decided by the same insurance company that decided to terminate or deny your long term disability claim) then your next step is to file a lawsuit in federal court.
And if you win your case in federal court, it could be a couple of years later, and you haven't been receiving benefits during that time. What if you had to cash out investments, liquidate your 401K, or sell your house? You certainly have other losses besides what the disability insurance company owes you.
So can you recover those other items of damage in a case against the disability insurance company?
Unfortunately, the answer is that under most group long-term disability insurance company policies, you cannot recover anything other than the past-due benefits you have been fighting so long for. In some cases, you may be able to recover attorney's fees (if the judge agrees to award that). But you can't get damages like you can in other cases - for pain and suffering or emotional distress for example.
So why are we telling you this? Sounds like bad news.
Well, this gives the disability insurance company a powerful incentive to deny your claim. They know that there are no punitive damages the judge will award, and even if they lose, they won't have to pay you anything other than what they owe you.
Sometimes, this attitude leads disability insurance companies to drag things out - so you settle your case for a lot less. And that's one of the reasons it is critical to focus on your appeal with your long term disability lawyer - that appeal is the critical step in your case.
If you’ve received a letter denying your long term disability benefits call us at (202) 393-3320 to see if we can help. We'll start by reviewing that denial letter, in confidence and at no charge, and give you our thoughts on your next steps.
What's the "Administrative Record" in my Long-Term Disability Claim with Guardian?
Your ERISA long term disability appeal depends on the administrative record in your case.
But what the heck is the administrative record? Where and how do I get it? What do I do with it?
If you've received a denial letter from your long term disability insurance company, indicating your benefits have been denied, or if you've been receiving long term disability benefits, that they have terminated or will end, your next step is to appeal that denial to the insurance company.
Here's some information on how to get ready to file your long term disability appeal.
That's the first step that you have to take to restore your benefits - and it's a big one. Your appeal is not just a letter to the insurance company saying that you disagree, or your most recent doctor's note saying you can't work. It's not a form you fill out.
Appealing your long term disability denial is a lot more than that - and here's why: your appeal, everything you put into it, will be the administrative record in your case if you have to file a federal lawsuit (ERISA is federal law so any lawsuit will have to be filed in federal court). That seems like we're getting ahead of ourselves, but the other critical piece of information is that the federal judge who decides the case will decide it on the administrative record.
Here are some tips on filing your long term disability appeal.
Sounds like we're going in circles a bit here, doesn't it?
First, you have to appeal the denial of benefits to the insurance company that just denied your benefits.
Then, if the same insurance company that just denied your benefits doesn't grant your appeal and reinstate your benefits, you have to sue them in federal court.
And the judge deciding the case will only review the administrative record (the appeal you provided to the insurance company and the information they reviewed to make their decision) and you don't get to testify about how you can't work, offer new evidence, or fix mistakes in your appeal.
Most people don't realize it, but you or your ERISA long term disability lawyer (especially if that's us) will spend a lot of time analyzing your entire claim file and then producing evidence that will help your appeal - working with medical experts and consultants, vocational experts, conducting interviews, recommending testing - all of it designed to give the insurance company (and later a federal judge) the real picture of the limitations and disability caused by your medical condition.
This starts with analyzing your long term disability insurance policy and the provisions that define disability. It really requires an in depth analysis of what the insurance company considered, why they denied your benefits and then what additional evidence would lead to the reversal of that decision.
If you're holding a denial letter, there is a lot of work to do. And under ERISA, you only have 180 days to file that appeal and create that administrative record.
So call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 so we can review your denial letter and see what we can do to put you in the best position to help get your long term disability benefits reinstated.
What's Different About Getting Medical Treatment on Workers' Comp?
Here are some basics about getting medical treatment after a work injury.
If you were injured at work and are receiving benefits, you may be getting treatment for the first time and feel confused about all of the differences between just getting medical care and getting medical care when you're on workers comp.
First of all, your treatment requires authorizations and all of your providers (there may be one or several) will need to have the authorizations to treat you in their records. They have to carry the authorizations so they have the authority to bill workers' 'comp. When scheduling your treatment, you may need to be prepared for extra administrative measures, evaluations, and paperwork that you might not have to deal with when using your regular insurance. Give yourself a little extra time before your first appointment with a new provider to make space for these types of tasks. And call ahead of time to make sure that the office has indeed received the authorizations from your workers' comp adjuster.
Second, when you are seeing your treating physician (not your physical therapist or occupational therapist) you will need to get a disability note from him or her whenever you see them. This disability note, which says whether or not you can return to work (or return to work with restrictions) will be the piece of paper that triggers whether or not you keep receiving financial benefits while you are out of work.
Look at your slip before you leave the office and make sure it says what the doctor said to you. Doctor's offices sometimes make clerical errors so you want to make sure that the paperwork matches what you discussed with your doctor. And don't leave the office without it in your hand!
You also need to make sure that you have received all of your referrals from your treating physician to see other doctors related to your treatment. Typically the doctor will give you an order that states that type of treatment he would like you to seek - like physical therapy, and MRI, or a referral to a specialist..
The referrals have to match the type of treatment exactly. For example, if the referral says "physical therapy" and you want to get "aqua therapy," you will have to get an order specifically for aqua therapy.
Third, you need to make sure you have all of your office visit notes from your treating physician, and reports from any surgeries and special treatment. We recommend that you keep a copy of all of your own records, but for our clients we order and keep track of all of the records associated with their treatment and we seek authorizations on their behalf.
These records, especially from your treating physician, are the trail of paperwork that we use to show continuity of care and continuation of treatment, so you will also want to make sure that your visit notes reflect everything that you talked about with your doctor. Sometimes doctors offices inadvertently leave in visit notes things that don't correspond with the doctor's orders, such as "claimant can go back to work," when the doctor actually put you out of work for another month. These mistakes are not fatal, you just need to call the doctor and ask them to correct the visit notes. Sometimes your adjuster will want to see your visit reports, so you want to make sure they are accurate.
If you have a new workers' comp claim and are just getting started, you will absolutely need to order our free book "Protect Your Rights - the Ultimate Guide to DC Workers' Compensation." This book, written by premier workers' comp attorney Frank R. Kearney, gives you insight into what you need to know about DC workers' comp. And if you have further questions don't hesitate to give us a call at 202-393-3320. You will speak with a real person today who can get you started.
Parents of Children with Cerebral Palsy and Other Special Needs, Need Resources and Specialized Care.
We know from the many parents of children we have represented in medical malpractice cases in D.C., Maryand and Virginia that parenting a disabled or severely injured child is a challenge. That's why we work with doctors, social workers, early intervention agencies and anyone else we can to help parents of special needs or disabled children discover the resources that are available for these children.
And that's why we published Getting Everything Your Special Needs Child Deserves: A Parent's Guide to Resources. We wanted to give something to parents of disabled children to help. And yes, our resource guide is completely free with no obligation. As D.C. medical malpractice lawyers, we investigate medical malpractice cases against hospitals, HMOs and doctors in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. And if our investigation shows a healthcare provider violated a Patient Safety Rule and harmed a patient, we represent children and families in those cases.
But this valuable resource guide, prepared and developed with the help of some of the families we work with, is available free to parents of all special needs kids in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. It doesn't matter how, when or why your child's condition occurred.
To order your copy of this valuable guide to resources, just call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and we will send it to you to today, for free, with absolutely no obligation.
How much is my workers’ compensation case worth?
Determining How Much Your Workers Comp Case is Worth
If you have been injured at work and are going through the process of filing a claim, you have taken the first step in advocating for yourself and making sure that you get the compensation and medical treatment you need. However, as you will soon find out, this can be a lengthy, time consuming and stressful process.
If you hope to settle your claim, meaning that your weekly payment schedule would stop and you would instead agree on a lump-sum or regular schedule of compensation with the workers comp insurance company, a lawyer can be particularly useful - in fact, with any serious injury, it would be crazy to try to settle the case yourself.
First off, knowing how much your weekly compensation should be is fairly straightforward – it is two-thirds of your average weekly wage over the past 26 weeks for workers in Washington, D.C. - and it includes all of your work during that time, including a second or third job. However, knowing how much to settle your workers comp claim for is a different story.
Your settlement can depend on whether you have incurred a permanent injury that stops you from working entirely in the future or a partial permanent injury that required surgery or will permanently prevent you from functioning in the same way you did before the injury. There are a lot of other factors to consider as well - how much you were earning before the injury, how much you can earn after the injury (if you can work at all) and how you can prove that, plus your age, education level, background, training, skills, medications you need to take (and their effect on you), medical treatment you need - all of these factors and more need to be analyzed.
Any settlement should be the best thing for you - and that will vary depending on what you want and need - we spend a lot of time with you getting this right because every person is different and this is not one size fits all.
Settlements are helpful in that they give you a guaranteed monetary award as compensation for your injury and they let you move on with your life - you know it's going to be OK and you don't have the stress and anxiety of the case hanging over you. Of course, if you wish to proceed with litigation, the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer is also essential, but it can be harder to predict what the outcome will be - settlement gives you control. In litigation, the result is up to a judge, and out of your control.
Laws in different states regarding workers’ compensation vary quite a bit, so it is important to hire a lawyer who is an expert in your area. We deal with countless cases involving workers’ compensation in D.C. and can help you get the compensation you deserve, and help you determine whether its best to settle or not. Though it is hard to quantify what your settlement might look like in the beginning of your case, we work hard with you to set the case up, right from the start, to maximize the benefits or settlement you'll ultimately get.
If you believe you have a case or have questions about workers’ compensation cases in D.C., call us at 202-393-3320. There’s no obligation associated with calling, and we are happy to send you our signature workers compensation book, the only one of its kind, written by a nationally Board Certified trial lawyer, at absolutely no cost to you.
I was injured in a car accident on the Beltway and hurt my back. Recently, my orthopedic doctor diagnosed sciatica. What is sciatica?
Sciatica is also called lumbar radiculopathy and its basically numbness, tingling and pain that goes from the low back into the buttock, hip, or down to leg into the toes depending on the severity. Sometimes you may hear it called a "pinched nerve."
It is caused by impingment, pressure or irritation of the nerves in the spinal area. This can be due to herniated or bulging disks, or injuries to the muscles or ligaments in the spine.
Many of our clients have experienced sciatica from trauma, such as in a car accident, or due to a sudden bending and twisting force, such as lifting something heavy at work.
It can be a serious condition, so we tell all of our clients to get the medical treatment from the appropriate medical specialist. And if it was caused by a car accident or work injury, take the steps to protect your legal rights.
We can talk through your specific rights. Just call us at (202) 393-3320.