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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I Have a Serious Injury. What Is The Best Approach for My Pain Management?
A number of our clients with serious injuries at work or after a car crash ask about medical treatment and pain management. We help them get the treatment they need authorized and paid for by the responsible insurance company.
If you have a serious injury related to an auto or work accident, you may be looking at pain management options. Studies show that physicians are still prescribing painkillers for up to 40 percent of cases, and if you have chronic pain that might be the best route for you.
However, prescription pain meds carry a high risk of addiction and you may want to try a variety of other methods first to find out if your body will respond.
First, there is the old faithful: take an anti-inflammatory, rest and apply heat. If the body has been over-exerted it may just need time to repair itself. Give yourself the time and space to do so.
There are also topical treatments that might help to alleviate your pain, such as products like Mineral Ice and Biofreeze. Other methods designed to go straight to the source of the problem (for example, an injured knee or spine) could include epidural (steriod) injections, trigger-point (local anesthetic) injections, and acupuncture. These injections usually come in series' and can alleviate pain by dealing directly with the injured part of the body.
Another avenue a doctor might prescribe is a compound topical cream to use as a pain reliever. These compounds (created at the pharmacy) can be applied directly to the site of injury and don't have to travel through the bloodstream, which can lessen the risk of addiction over time.
Finally, for very serious injuries, like a torn rotator cuff, surgery might be the best option. Often times the pain management specialist will experiment to see if you respond to other types of treatment before recommending surgery.
Every case is different and your pain management path your own. At Donahoe Kearney we are not doctors, but we have been a part of the process for more than twenty years and have worked with doctors all over the DMV. We assist our clients with finding the best provider for their case and then making sure that treatment is approved and paid for.
If you have a serious injury and have questions about your treatment, give us a call today at 202-393-3320. You will speak with a live person who will try to get you the best information for your injury case; at no cost and no obligation.
My Child is Profoundly Disabled Due to Medical Malpractice. How Do I Find A Good Home Health Aide for Her?
Choosing a home health aide is an extremely important decision. You and your disabled child rely on the aide for feeding, bathing, and turning her; all of the things she needs when you can't do them.
First, do the legwork and the research; find a reputable company who employs the home health aides. Most public companies will have "review" applications on their website. If they don't, ask for a reference. Also, make sure that the agency in question does not have an adverse history when it comes to litigation. While settlements are often confidential, lawsuits are not. A simple google search comprised of "your agency + "lawsuits" should help you to confirm the reputation of the agency.
Next, meet the proposed aide. Take the time to write down the questions that you want to ask. Don't be afraid to ask about the aides' experience or qualifications and the specific care needs or care plan for your daughter. Find out why he or she does what they do. Take measures to determine their commitment to the job. Most of the time you can tell the difference between somebody who likes their job, and somebody who does not.
Finally, set forth your expectations for communication. Get into the habit early on of asking for a digest of the day. If your home health aide knows you will be wanting information, he or she might be more likely to take note and remember what goes on during the day. It's better to establish communication early on rather than try to enforce it later.
At Donahoe Kearney we strive to get the best possible settlement for your loved one who may have been hurt as a result of malpractice. We know that parents of disabled children have an overwhelming responsibility. That's why we wrote Picking Up the Pieces After Medical Malpractice: A Parents Guide; an informational book to help parents dealing with medical malpractice. To order your copy today click here or call us at 202-393-3320. No obligation, no cost.
My Child Was Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. What Will Be the Lifetime Cost of Care?
Parents of a child with Cerebral Palsy worry about the future of their special needs child: their health, well-being, and unfortunately, their finances. They worry because most likely, the child with Cerebral Palsy (even severe) will long outlive his parents and will never be able to care for or support him/herself.
And as a parent, you want (and your child deserves) the best medical care and treatment for his condition, not just the minimum, especially if the child's disability was caused by medical malpractice. That is why the law allows damages for all of the future care and treatment your child needs: nursing care, medications, doctors visits, modifications to your home to make it handicap accessible, a wheel chair accessible van, and a lot more. Let's face it, these services and products cost a lot of money.
According to a study released by the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) entitled: "Economic Costs Associated with Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Loss and Vision Impairment - United States, 2003" the costs in the U.S, of caring for people with cerebral palsy can reach into the billions over a lifetime. The study shows that “lifetime costs in 2003 dollars are expected to total $51.2 billion for persons born in 2000 with mental retardation, $11.5 billion for persons with Cerebral Palsy, $1.9 billion for persons with hearing loss, and $2.6 billion for persons with vision impairment.”
Needless to say; that is a profound amount of money needed to care for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. And providing for a child with cerebral palsy can be an incredible individual burden on you as parents and on your family - running well into the millions of dollars. It's even worse when we consider that many times cerebral palsy could have been prevented at the hospital and some parents and families may not even know their child's cerebral palsy was caused by medical malpractice due to hospital errors or doctors' mistakes.
If you or somebody that you love has been affected by a hospital error that caused cerebral palsy, please give us a call today to speak to a live person. At no cost or obligation we can send you a book about getting resources for special needs children and discuss whether or not your case was preventable. As experienced medical malpractice lawyers, we can get you started on the right road to getting the resources your child needs. Call us at 202-393-3320; a real person will answer the phone today.
A Doctor in a D.C. Hospital said My Baby had Hypoxia at Birth. What is Hypoxia?
Hypoxia is a lack of oxygen to the tissues in the body. Sometimes it is used to describe a lack of oxygen to the brain as well, meaning the baby is not getting sufficient oxygen to his brain before or during birth. It is a devastating, sometimes fatal condition that can cause severe brain damage.
Lack of oxygen to the brain at birth is sometimes called asphyxia as well. The term to describe the severe, permanent injury to the baby's brain is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy; usually called HIE.
This is certainly a cause of cerebral palsy, and can often be medical malpractice if the residents, interns and medical students in the hospital did not recognize and act on the signs and symptoms in time to prevent the injury to the baby. These signs and symptpms can include fetal tachycardia (elevated heart rate), non-reassuring fetal monitoring strips, maternal bleeding, and decreased heart rate in the baby.
If a doctor told you your baby was hypoxic at birth (that he or she was deprived of oxygen during or around the time of birth and it caused an injury to his brain), you should have the medical records evaluated by an experienced D.C. medical malpractice lawyer to determine whether the injury was caused by medical malpractice and should have been prevented.
The only way to really know if your child's condition, like cerebral palsy, was caused by medical malpractice is to take that first step and have the medical records reviewed. You may be one step closer to getting your child the resources he or she needs to live a full and healthy life and to provide everything required by the medical condition.
We've helped many families with a child affected by medical malpractice in every D.C. hospital. And medical malpractice happens in every D.C. hospital; "good" hospitals can still cause serious injuries.
Medical malpractice cases take time to review and analyze; so call us today so we can get started working to get you and your family the resources you need.
What is Considered Medical Malpractice in the District of Columbia?
The legal definition of medical malpractice in D.C. is conduct that falls below the standard of care that a reasonable, prudent healthcare provider should comply with. What does that mean? It just means the hospital, HMO, doctor, or nurse didn't follow established rules to keep the patient safe. And because the health care provider chose not to follow those rules, the patient was harmed.
Sounds simple, right?
Most of the time when a patient is catastrophically injured or dies in D.C. hospitals, HMOs, clinics and doctors' offices it is the result of a system failure. Not just one mistake by one person, but a series of problems with no system in place to keep them from harming the patient. And many times, it doesn't even really involve medical care. One example is when a test result that identified a life-threatening condition was faxed to a doctor's office, but then just filed in the patient's chart because the staff member didn't know how serious it was (and the patient died from it 3 days later but would have lived if she had gotten treatment).
Medical malpractice can be almost anything; like an early discharge from the hospital, an unrecognized, untreated disease like pulmonary embolism, and/or cerebral palsy in a baby because the interns and residents didn't recognize fetal distress.
There are many examples, but medical malpractice in D.C. (or Maryland or Virginia.) is usually a series of bad choices by the doctors and nurses, without a hospital system in place to prevent those choices from harming the patient.
If you know someone harmed by the medical system, have them order one of our free, no obligation books, guides or reports, or have them call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to confidentially discuss their situation.
But don't put it off - these cases have time limits and take a long time to prepare before they can be filed. You don't want to lose out on resources you need because you waited too long.
What if it has Been More than Two Years Since my Injury? Am I still Eligible for Benefits?
Workers Comp Deadlines
The amount of time between the injury and the deadline to file your workers' compensation claim is called the statute of limitations and it varies from state to state.
Here are the basics for the time to file a workers comp claim in DC, Virginia and Maryland:
In D.C. you have one year from the time you became aware (or should have) of the injury at work (or if it is a disease, the time you became aware of the disease being related to your employment). But there are lots of exceptions to this - it doesn't mean you are out of the workes comp system if you haven't filed the right forms in time. We have helped many people who came to us years after their injury.
In Virginia, you have two years from the date of injury to file with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission, and in Maryland you need to report he injury to the employer and then file your claim with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission within two years. In Maryland, a workers comp insurance company is not supposed to pay workers comp benefits until a claim is filed, and they will usually send the claim form to you.
Be careful here - filing in the wrong state could cost you hundreds of dollars every week. A 10 minute call with us could save you the heartache of this mistake (and workers comp insurance companies know the benefit rates are lower in Maryland and Virginia - they will encourage you to file your workers comp claim there instead of in D.C.)
Most of all, remember - there may be exceptions to the general rules here - don't just assume that you can't file a workers comp claim and be careful which jurisdiction you file in - the benefits you may be able to get are very different depending on where your workers comp claim is filed.
Call us at (202) 393-3320 for a 10 minute phone call that could prevent you and your family from making a devastating financial mistake with your workers comp case!
Can My Employer Fire me While I am Out on Workers' Compensation ?
Most states, including DC, VA, and MD, have provisions that your employer cannot fire you in response to protected behavior such as filing of a workers' compensation claim (called retaliation). But that is rarely the issue.
However, your employer can fire you while you have an open workers' compensation claim for any legal reason if you are an at will employee (union workers may have protections through their union). Sometimes employers say they need to fill your position, and with a serious injury you may not be able to return to your job because you can no longer physically perform the work. Your doctor may have restricted you from lifting, bending, standing, reaching overhead, and other work activities.
Just because your company terminates your employment doesn't mean your workers comp case is over. In fact, it has very little to do with workers comp. The workers comp insurance company will still have to pay your workers comp benefits and medical treatment while you cannot work because of your injuries.
The effect of termination on your workers comp case is often a complicated issue and can affect settlement and other issues - so if you're in that situation, give us a call to see if we can help you take care of your case and your future (202) 393 - 3320.
Should I Accept a Check from the Other Driver Who Was at Fault?
No, you should not. If you have a minor injury, you may be able to handle the case yourself; but take the time to do it right by getting information about accident cases and claims. If you were seriously injured, talk to an experienced attorney you trust.
Why not accept the check?
If you accept a check from the other driver or from the other driver's insurance company, that may be construed as you accepting settlement for your claim. And at that time, you may not have done a full assessment of your injuries.
And, what's more, if the check is seen as settlement of your claim, that will prevent you from any future recovery. The insurance company is skilled at getting you the lowest amount possible for your injuries - even if you are not at fault and have made every effort to cooperate with them. If you're dealing with the insurance company yourself, they are trained to get you the lowest amount possible settle your case and will do just that.
So, if you accept a settlement before you have an experienced attorney that can properly gauge how much you should be receiving, chances are that you will settle for a far less amount than you're entitled to under the law. Our main objective is to get you an amount that will make up for the harms the other driver caused - this is different for everyone and will depend on the severity of your injuries and the impact they have had on your life.
Click here to see what the insurance adjuster does, and how they often work against the interests of those who have been injured - it's their job!
In fact, this kind of communication with the other driver and their insurance company before speaking to an attorney can cause for a lot of trouble down the road, just like the 7 Deadly Sins that Will Wreck Your Accident Case.
You should educate yourself or consult with an experienced attorney before accepting any payment, signing any release, or otherwise settling your claim with the other driver or their insurance company after an automobile accident. We review your case with you and will help make a determination of your damages and how much you would are entitled to recover. See what our clients have to say about us! If you've been in auto accident, give us a call at 202-393-3320 today for help getting the recovery you deserve.
My doctor in D.C. got my due date wrong and now my baby has serious complications - do I have a medical malpractice case?
One of the most important (and first) steps of good obstetric procedure is dating the pregnancy.
Once a pregnancy is dated, then other important dates of the pregnancy are determined and prenatal care is scheduled accordingly. For instance, let's say a doctor mistakenly thinks a 24 week pregnancy is actually a 23 week pregancy, and he treats the mother and baby accordingly. This is critical - and we have handled a DC medical malpractice case against a hospital in Washington, D.C. just lke this - because 24 weeks is considered viability (the age at which a baby can live outside the womb). Obviously, this will be critical for good obstetrical medical care and management.
Premature babies are more likely to have developmental delays and sometimes significant health problems, but there are medical interventions that can reduce these risks.
In our case, a well known obstetrician didn't correctly date the pregnancy. But the hospital's mistake was not having a system in place to make sure a simple but vital piece of medical information was checked. Any intern or resident could have checked the dates and correctly calculated the number of weeks - but no one did. Every doctor and nurse just wrote down the incorrect number because someone else had.
Unfortunately, with inadequate prenatal care, birth injuries are more likely. In fact, mothers who receive the best prenatal care are more likely to have heatlhy pregnancies and healthy children in the long run. So, it's important to make sure prenatal care offered to pregnant mothers is adequate.
One simple mistake like this can compound and it could mean injury for baby and mother - it may also mean medical malpractice in some cases. When an experienced obstetrician dates the pregnancy wrong because he was rushing, wasn't listening, or because of simple miscalculations, and no one else bothers to check it, both baby and mother can suffer.
Especially if a miscalculated due date was never checked by others on the team - by residents, fellows, interns, and nurses - then you may have a case for system wide failure that led to your baby's injury.
But, remember, every case is different and only an experienced attorney can give you advice for you. Give us a call at 202-393-3320 if you think you may be dealing with medical malpractice that caused cerebral palsy, developmental delays or other birth injury.
After an accident that wasn't my fault, the other driver's insurance company wants me to sign a medical authorization for my medical information. Should I release my medical records to the other insurance company?
Knowing what to do after you've been hurt in an accident can be tough, especially if you have never been in an accident before - like most of the people we help here in the DC Metro Area.
After you've been in an accident, it can also be hard to figure out which information you have to share with the other driver. That exchange can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be if you know EXACTLY what to give after an auto accident. Avoiding this confusion can make a big difference in the long run. Click here to avoid the Top 4 Mistakes Made After An Accident.
If you're seriously injured, of course it's important to obtain your medical records - confused on how to get started? Click here to see tips on getting your medical records.
But, the other driver's insurance wants you to sign a medical authorization or release immediately. Should you do that?
First of all, read it - it probably gives this insurance company to obtain every medical record created in your life time. That's right - signing that form probably gives the insurance company the right to get your birth records, and every thing else you've every seen a doctor for...
Do you think they really need that to fairly evaluate the injuries caused by their driver?
Absolutely not. So don't share your medical records with the insurance company adjuster or with the other driver. There's a time for giving them the medical information about the injuries they caused - but it's not right after the accident!
Don't fall into the trap - get our free and informative ebook that breaks down accident cases in our area, top mistakes, how to avoid them, and useful information to make sure you're on track to getting help with the injuries you have. You can order it on this page right here --> - or give us call at 202-393-3320 and we'll send you a copy right away - and it's FREE.
So don't delay - get the info you need to make sure things go smoothly with the insurance company from the beginning.