Answers to Medical Malpractice, Workers Comp, Long Term Disability Insurance, and Car Accident Questions
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At Donahoe Kearney, we believe it's important to empower through education. Here are some of the questions people have when they first contact us about D.C., Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, serious car accidents, long term disability insurance claims, or workers compensation. We try to provide as much information as we can based on our experience as medical malpractice lawyers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Since every person is unique, if you have questions or need information about an injury or death in your family, please contact us to talk it through.We'll talk to you, schedule a free initial meeting and give you all the information we can. Call us today at 202-393-3320.
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Can I Switch Doctors After a Work Injury?
You Have the Right To Choose Your Own Treating Physician After an Injury at Work in DC
First of all, every worker hurt on the job in D.C. has the right to choose their own physician. The workers' comp insurance company can't just send you to some doctor or clinic, even though they might try. However, you do have to be careful. Once you have made the choice of a treating physician, it may be difficult to change doctors (or at least difficult to do so quickly). If you have already been treated several times by the insurance doctor or a different doctor and would like to make a change, you can request a hearing with the Office of Workers Compensation to get the change in physician approved, but this can take several months. If the workers comp insurance company agrees to the requested change, you can begin treatment with the new doctor. If not, you will have to win the hearing in order to change your doctor.
In summary, if you were hurt in DC you do get to choose your treating physician, even if your work "assigns" you a doctor. In Maryland you also are permitted to choose your own doctor. In Virginia, you can choose from a panel of three physicians.
Have More Questions? Our Experienced Workers Compensation Lawyers Have Answers.
Give us a call at 202-393-3320 today and you will speak to a real person who wants to hear your story.
What Role Does My Doctor Play in My Long-Term Disability Claim?
I've been on long-term disability for a full year and they are just now telling me I don't have proper documentation of my injury and medical treatment. What am I supposed to do?
Yes, we are very familiar with this type of situation. Many times, people on disability just go along getting treatment and hoping to recover and go back to work. All the while, nobody tells them that the insurance company is looking for very specific medical records, will require certain times of tests, and will nitpick over language: all to find ways to deny your claim.
It doesn't seem fair, does it? Of course, it's not but you do still have power. You can discover the truth about ERISA long-term disability insurance and set yourself on the right path.
Most people have short-term disability claims first, and they never intend on going on long-term disability. They hope to recover and go back to work; and so their sights are set, as they should be, on recovery instead of preparing themselves for a successful long-term disability claim.
Here are some quick tips we can give you to get started.
1. Ask your doctor if he or she is familiar with "Objective Medical Evidence." These are the types of evidence-based tests that are famously cited by insurance agents looking to deny your claim. Use these type of diagnostics whenever possible to document your illness or injury.
2. Index your own copies of your monthly progress notes and disability slips. Don't ever leave your doctor's office without an updated disability slip, and follow up with your doctor's front desk to get copies of your progress notes a few days after your appointment.
3. If your progress notes don't fully describe your treatment and connect it to the injury you are claiming on disability (and they should be), ask for edits from your doctor. Your doctor can do this (and should).
4. Don't do anything at all, publicly or privately, that is outside of your doctor's restrictions. If surveillance is taking place courtesy of your insurance company, you can get kicked off your claim.
5. Stay away from social media; don't post anything related to your doctor's appointments or treatment, and keep all of your social media settings on private.
Want more? Securing a consultation with attorney Frank Kearney can keep you from making the kinds of toxic mistakes that will set you up to have your claim denied. Call us today at 202-393-3320 to get started on your road to success.
What Do Long-Term Disability, Workers' Compensation, and Serious Car Accidents Have in Common?
All insurance companies have one thing in common; they want to minimize their number of claims and pay out as few claims as possible. It would be a ridiculous business model if they didn't.
All business seek to maximize their profits, but it shouldn't be at the expense of making good on the promises you make to good people paying their premiums.
There is no exception for ERISA long-Term disability, workers' compensation and serious car accident claims in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
Here are a five things that these types of claims all have in common.
1. The insurance companies are always protecting their bottom line, and usually not looking out for your interest;
2. Generally, insurance adjusters are trained to find ways to limit your claim;
3. You can be scheduled for an independent medical exam in all types of claims (though it's far more common in long-term disability and workers' compensation).
4. You can settle your case at the end of the medical treatment for a lump-sum.
5. Donahoe Kearney, LLP can help you maximize your benefits and settlement value on all of them.
Should I Avoid Posting on Social Media if I Have a Disability Case?
Should I Avoid Posting on Social Media if I Have a Disability Case?
The Answer Is a Resounding YES.
Consider this scenario. A new client comes on board with an experienced ERISA attorney like Donahoe Kearney. The attorney does initial research on his case file, which includes reports that the client has received from the insurance company.
What do they see? A lengthy investigative report completed by the aces at the insurance company. It starts with screen shots of him wake-boarding in Cancun. How did the insurance company find these pictures? They didn't have to work very hard for it.
They just searched his name and the town where he lives, and there it was, in all its glory, on his public Facebook page.
So much for his long-term disability claim!
Social Media scouting is just one of the tricks of the insurance company. The insurance company will also do surveillance - by phone and video.
The insurance company chatted up his neighbors, called him directly and and made "discreet inquiries" to fish out whether he was running a business on the side or had any type of "side hustle."
They even hung out on his block, trying to catch him on video doing something that they can use to say he can go back to work.
What most people don't know (but any insurance attorney worth their salt will tell you) files are often filled with surveillance video that insurance companies have gotten from unsuspecting claimants.
Many times you might hear the claimant (client) expresses outrage:
"How dare they sit on my street and video me. It's an invasion of privacy for them to follow me to my doctor's office."
Here's our reply: "Don't lie to the insurance company. What were you thinking?"
You don't HAVE to kill your disability claim with social media. Here are some tips to help you out.
Cheaters always get caught. Be honest and straightforward when talking to the insurance company about what you can and can't do.
The insurance company probably knows when your next doctors appointment is. Be aware of that fact- they will likely be videotaping your trip. Don't stop at Home Depot on your way.
Be smart about Facebook and Instagram. Don't post stupid stuff to Facebook (if you think it might be inappropriate, it probably is). Update your social media privacy settings.
An experienced long-term disability lawyer will be your best investment with an ERISA claim, but they cannot work miracles. They cannot make "discovered" social media disappear. There's a lot an experienced firm can do to improve your chances of winning but changing the reality of a video or photo or Facebook comment isn't one of them.
If you have questions about your ERISA disability claim, or have received a denial letter from your employer’s insurance company, give us a call at 202-393-3320.
Please tell me the Top 5 Tricks of an Insurance Claims Adjuster.
Who is your insurance adjuster?
The insurance adjuster is the representative of the insurance company that communicates most frequently and directly with you or your attorney.
The whole reason they are employed is to help the insurance company make money - that's what insurance companies do.
Think about it -- simply by the name "adjuster." They adjust your claim to try and save money -- simple as that.
Many times adjusters do this by trying to delay and deny your legitimate claim. They receive training on how to minimize the benefits you should get, and they are often so overworked, handling so many cases, that they can't even get to yours. They are there to save the insurance company money, and if that means you get less in benefits and medical treatment, that's just the way it is.
We don't let our clients get taken advantage of by adjusters.
There are some tricks that we see often that you might be experiencing while dealing with your adjuster. Watch out for them.
Here's a list of the top five adjuster dirty tricks.
1) Recording a statement while you are in pain or under the influence of strong pain medications. After a serious work accident, of course you are in pain due to your injury, plus you're probably uncertain, stressed out and not sure what you need to do in the system. You are not alone. Many adjusters know this is the worst time (for you - but its the best time for the workers comp insurance company) to get a recorded statement, knowing that you are now more likely to say something that they can use to delay or even deny their claim. Don't let this happen to you.
2) Misrepresenting the benefits you can receive under the law - this is a big one. Because they know some injured workers don't have an attorney (or worse - have the wrong attorney), they make it seem like you can't get certain benefits when they know you can, or they never tell you about the workers comp benefits you are entitled to.
Protecting you and providing for your family IS NOT not the insurance company's job. Educating you on the workers comp system (there are 58 chapters of regulations interpreting the statute) IS NOT their problem. You may not know what to ask for, and they won't tell you.
3) Intentionally not returning your calls - Not hearing back? It's a tactic to make you frustrated. They ignore you or play phone tag as a way to delay and deny your medical treatment and benefits. We have professional, full-time staff to make sure your adjuster is not ignoring you.
4) Wanting to settle too quickly - some adjusters, if they have a sense that the injury is serious but there isn't enough documentation readily available, will try to settle your case before you know the extent of the injury and what you're entitled to, just so that they can "low-ball" you. Be wary if they offer you money but don't know everything that happened. You may be taking way less than you deserve. An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate your claim and project the type of settlement you may be entitled to.
5) Advising you not to get an attorney - this one we see often, and can be the most damaging. Imagine being questioned without having a lawyer present - it makes it easier for them to take advantage of you if they know you don't know the law and don't know how much you deserve. They can more easily (and legally) give you less than what you rightfully deserve under the law if you don't have a lawyer. Insurance industry studies routinely show they pay more on cases to people who have lawyers.
Don't make these mistakes! If you've been seriously hurt, get all the information you can before trying to handle your claim by yourself. Make sure you contact us at 202-393-3320 so you can begin the process of getting representation if you truly need it.
Now that you know some of the common traps, tricks and strategy they use against you, you'll be ready if they ever happen to you. And remember, when we talk about your adjuster, he/she has a whole team of insurance company lawyers, doctors, nurses, case managers, and other specialists. They've handled thousands of cases just like yours for the insurance company. You may not realize it, but they are there, working against you, literally from the moment you get hurt. That's a lot to go up against.
The best way to protect yourself is to know the system, and have someone fighting on your side. The first thing you can do is order our free book on long-term disability.
Can I Sue For Malpractice for My Daughter's Cerebral Palsy?
What a child with cerebral palsy due to malpractice is entitled to.
In the District of Columbia, a child with cerebral palsy due to a birth injury, or a child injured by another person's negligence, can get money damages to make up for the harms and losses they suffered through a medical malpractice case in DC against the hospital or doctor that caused the child's cerebral palsy - usually because the baby was not delivered in time, or there was a misdiagnosis that led to the baby's being premature and suffering from cerebral palsy or other developmental delays due to being born prematurely.
Some of those harms and losses a child with cerebral palsy may have are:
- the cost of future medical care and treatment,
- the cost of modifying your home to make it accessible, safe and comfortable for your child,
- the cost of a nurse to come in and help take care of the child,
- the cost of motorized wheelchairs or scooters,
- the cost of a handicap accessible van,
- the income she lost since she will never work as an adult
These are only the harms and losses we can put a price tag on - and for a child with severe cerebral palsy, these costs will continue for the rest of her life, so that the resources to take care of her are critical to her safety and well being, especially since she will probably outlive her parents. There are other harms of course, like pain, suffering, disfigurement, enjoyment of the loss of life and other damages she is entitled to as well.
Since every child with cerebral palsy is unique, no two children will have the exact same harms and losses. For a great guide on some of the things available in the DC area that kids with cerebral palsy can often benefit from, order our free, no obligation guide for parents by clicking on the below or calling us at (202) 393 - 3320.
How Can I Tell if My Child Has Cerebral Palsy?
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder caused by an injury or abnormality of the brain, usually around the time of birth. As lawyers representing children in medical malpractice cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia, and with cerebral palsy caused by birth injuries, like delay in performing a c-section, we are often asked about signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy. One of the most concerning signs would be if a child is not meeting his or her developmental milestones; not rolling over, sitting up, crawling, standing, walking, or talking when they normally should. Sometimes children with cerebral palsy don't have muscle coordination (this is also called ataxia) or stiff muscles with movement (spasticity).
Other signs and symptoms can include problems with sucking or eating, excessive drooling, difficult swallowing, and problems with fine motor skills (like picking up small objects).
Sometimes Cerebral Palsy is the Result of Medical Malpractice
If your child was born prematurely because of infection, or their was a difficult labor, or the hospital was late in delivering the baby, you should be aware that your child's cerebral palsy could be caused by medical malpractice, and holding the hospital or doctors accountable could give your child the resources you need to take care of him or her for the rest of their lives. If you have more questions or need more information about a medical malpractice case in DC, Maryland or Virginia give us a call at 202-393-3320 to speak with a real person today. We will send you our free, no obligation guides Picking Up the Pieces After Medical Malpractice to help you make the best decision for you and your family.
Should I Accept a Lump-Sum over Long-Term Benefits for My Long-Term Disability Plan?
One of the ways insurance companies will "get" you -- they know that you need cash, now.
If your long-term disability insurance company (the Hartford, Guardian, MetLife, MetMutual) determines that they may be on the hook for your benefits for a long time, they may offer to "buy out" your policy by paying you a big payment all at once (lump-sum). If you were to accept the lump sum, you would no longer have to provide continued proof of disability. On the flip side, they no longer have an obligation to pay you.
Generally speaking, the insurance company is going to save money by giving you a lump sum if you are going to be out of work for a long time. Accepting a lump sum makes sense only if one out of the four following conditions apply to your situation:
You truly have to have the cash, now.
You know that you are going to die soon, and the insurance company doesn't know this.
You are almost recovered and will soon be able to return to the workforce.
You have learned make money in a different occupation and/or:
You need the lump sum payout to "bridge the gap" while you are working on getting your earnings up.
If none of these conditions apply to you, then it is generally not in your best interest to accept the buyout offer.
Give us a call to see if your offer is reasonable. We’re happy to help.
What is Vocational Rehabilitation and how can it affect my workers’ compensation benefits?
Vocational Rehabilitation in DC Workers Compensation
When you can't return to your regular job after a serious injury, but you can work some type of light duty within your doctor's restrictions, the workers comp insurance company can start vocational rehabilitation. Generally, the insurance company will assign a vocational counselor to work with you - and who do you think the vocational counselor works for?
The overall goal of vocational rehabilitation is supposed to be to return you to a job that pays as much as you were making at the time you got hurt. In theory, that's the idea.
This usually doesn't happen, for lots of reasons.
First of all, if you were working in construction or another field with a physically demanding job - any building trade, security, nursing, delivery driver, rigger for concerts, school teacher for at risk kids - you name it, you may not have the transferrable skills to be employed at a high wage in some other field. You probably don't have the experience, training, education and background to compete for high level jobs in another field. And if you were at the top of your field when you got hurt, will your past salary scare away potential employers?
Are you now competing against people half your age for entry level jobs in a totally new field?
You see, in theory, vocational rehabilitation sounds great. It sounds like re-training for something you want to do. A true career change.
But it's not.
The reality (like many things with the workers comp system and all workers comp insurance companies) is a lot different than what you would expect.
Workers Comp Insurance Companies Use Vocational Rehabilitation to Stop Your Benefits.
Keep in mind, all of the vocational counselors work for the workers comp insurance companies - that is where they get all of their business. They don't work for you. And the insurance company's job is to deny or limit the amount of money and medical treatment they have to pay for.
Things may start off just fine, but there will probably come a time when the insurance company is tired of paying for these services. They have been paying her for a long time to meet with you and she hasn't found you a job yet. And this can pressure a vocational counselor to say you are not cooperating with their services because by doing so, the insurance company can cut off your benefits (this is technically a suspension of benefits, but really they just stop them cold).
We've seen benefits stopped for trivial issues - not calling the counselor back on time, or missing just one meeting.
If you are on vocational rehabilitation and are working with a vocational counselor, you never want to get to this point - so make sure you document all of your job search efforts and keep notes of your meetings and conversations with the counselor.
Save and print all of your text messages, phone records and emails so you have these if you need them at a Formal Hearing.
By keeping record of all your job search efforts (telephone calls you have made, computer searches, jobs applications, interviews/meetings, etc.), you can use them at the hearing some day if the insurance company claims you did not cooperate with the vocational counselor. The more evidence you have of your good-faith cooperation with vocational rehabilitation, the better your chances.
The vocational counselor will probably testify against you at the hearing, so you need to be prepared to not only prove you were cooperating with her, but cross examine her as well.
Call us today at (202) 393-3320 to make sure this doesn't happen to you. Don’t let the insurance company and their vocational counselor set you up to stop your hard earned workers comp benefits.
Want more? Visit us at www.donahoekearney.com/reports for more information on DC Workers' Compensation.
What's the Difference Between Workers' Compensation and a Lawsuit?
I was hurt at work in D.C. Can I sue my employer and recover damages for my back injury caused by my company's negligence?
If you're hurt (or killed) at work while you're on the job, you are entitled to workers compensation benefits whether your employer or one of your co-workers caused your injury, whether the accident was your fault, or no matter what caused the accident or injury. Remember - if someone else caused the accident who didn't work for your company, you can sue that person or the company he worked for. That's a separate case and we handle those all the time for construction workers, delivery drivers and other workers.
But the law doesn't allow you to sue your employer for damages (as you would in a car accident or pedestrian accident case for example).
Instead, your case is governed by the D.C. Workers Compensation Act (even though your employer was negligent) and you are entitled to the various benefits and protections of the Act.
I'll warn you up front though - no large employer or insurance company will tell you all the benefits you may be entitled to, so if its a serious injury, call us for more information. 202-393-3320.