Answers to Medical Malpractice, Workers Comp, Long Term Disability Insurance, and Car Accident Questions

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 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 serious car accident or car 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.

If you're on a long term disability insurance claim and your claim has been denied, you probably need an attorney to do the appeal. Insurance companies will use every trick in their aresenal to deny or limit your benefits. Don't try to handle an appeal on your own.

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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  • 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.

    We know what you're entitled to and how to get it for 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.

    And if you need to, give us a call at 202-393-3320 when you want to talk about your specific situation - you'll get a live person here - someone who can start helping you right away.

     
     

  • How Do I Hold a Doctor or Hospital Accountable for Small Injuries or Serious Mistakes?

    I got an email from a long-time client today. She had been injured in one of our local hospitals: the doctor gave her a medication to which she is allergic. Subsequently, she discovered that the nurse was about to push a medication that could have been fatal to her and she stopped it.

    She had an allergic reaction to the medication, of course, and she was shaken up from the near catastrophic and even deadly medical treatment she averted. Understandably so.

    She was confused and scared, and wanted to know how to hold the hospital accountable. It got me thinking: we hear about a lot of incidents and near catastrophic incidents where the patient ends up being okay, thankfully, and doesn't the type of serious injury that would warrant the expense of a medical malpractice case. But, shouldn't they have a way to hold the hospital accountable?

    Here are a few ways to hold a doctor or hospital accountable for their erroneous treatment.

    1. Report it to the hospital. They cannot improve on their Patient Safety Practices unless they are aware of when things have gone wrong.

    2. Report is to the city's department of health. For example in DC, you can contact them at https://dchealth.dc.gov/service/file-complaint-health%20prof

    3. Report it to the physician's governing board if it was the fault of a board-certified physician. Different specialties have different governing boards. For example if you were injured by a plastic surgeon, you could report it to the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

    These are just a few things you can do in order to hold physician's accountable and help prevent mistakes to other people. 

    If you have been catastrophically injured by a hospital, medical doctor, HMO, or other type of medical conglomerate, you may want to have your case reviewed by experienced medical malpractice attorneys Frank Kearney and Keith Donahoe.

  • 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.

  • What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy in a Child or Infant?

    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). 

    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.  

    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 and we will send you our free, no obligation guides to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

  • How do I get the best medical malpractice lawyer for my child's case?

    www.donahoekearney/reports

    In D.C., the best medical malpractice lawyer for your child - whether she suffers from cerebral palsy, developmental delay, shoulder dystocia or some other medical condition that should have been prevented by proper medical care - is a lawyer who has experience representing children who have been injured, have special needs or disabilities.  The best medical malpractice lawyer for your family has taken medical malpractice cases to trial (and won), settled medical malpractice cases with virtually every hospital and insurance company in the D.C. area, and will be able to explain everything about a child's medical malpractice case to you and your family.

    When you have a family member affected by medical malpractice in DC., Maryland or Virginia, choosing the right lawyer can be a difficult decision because your child's future is so important.

    That's one of the reasons we published Picking Up the Pieces After Medical Malpractice: A Parent's Guide To help parents and families get the information they need to make these difficult decisions.

    If your family or someone you know was affected by medical malpractice in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to receive your FREE copy of this resource.   

  • If you have a doctor's restrictions after a work injury does your job have to give you light duty?

     

    Light Duty When You're on Workman's Comp. If you're hurt at work and can't go back to your regular job because of the injury, your doctor may put you on light duty, or give you work restrictions. 

    For example, if you injured your back at work, the doctor may say no lifting over 10 pounds.  After recovering from knee surgery, the restrictions may be no climbing ladders, no standing more than 10 minutes, etc.  And a shoulder injury could restrict you from using that arm.

    So once your doctor gives you work restrictions, what do you do?
    What if you can't do your regular job because of doctor's restrictions?

    There are a lot of complicating factors to consider, but our law firm sets aside time every week to answer questions like this (confidentially and for free) so if you have questions after reading this, or want more information, call us now at (202) 393-3320.

    In workers' compensation cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, its up to your employer to provide light duty - in other words, its the employer's choice to offer light duty work.  Some companies do but others don't.

    Some employers have true light duty jobs available that they can move an injured worker to - and if so, that injured worker would receive his regular salary instead of workers comp benefits for the time he is on light duty (as long as the light duty job pays as much as he was making before).

    A lot of union contractors just don't have any light duty - and union workers can read more about a free guide to workers compensation for union members by clicking here.

    Other companies may create a light duty job or have a light duty program.  Sometimes a construction company will have a construction worker with a shoulder injury sit in the trailer, or stand on the jobsite and make sure everyone is wearing a hard hat.  A transit employer could have injured workers watch a parking lot.  Again, the injured employee would be paid his regular salary instead of workers compensation benefits.

    One thing to keep in mind is that even if you are receiving your standard hourly rate in a light duty job, you may be owed additional workers compensation benefits (called temporary partial disability).  This is because your average weekly wage (which includes overtime, bonuses and may include income from a second job) could be more than your standard hourly rate, or you may be working fewer hours on light duty. 

     

    What if your company doesn't have light duty or won't accommodate your restrictions?

    They have to pay your full workers compensation benefits, also called temporary total disability, or TTD, just as if your doctor said you could not do any work at all because of the injury.

    If you have a question about light duty with your employer, just call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and we'll tell you how our clients do it. 

    But the key to any light duty job is to make sure it is within your doctor's restrictions - you don't want to do anything to risk further injury or delay the recovery from your injury.

    And be careful here - not accepting a light duty job or getting fired from it can really hurt your case.

    And not only do the laws vary in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, every employer does something different and every case depends on specific factors.  So if you have questions, or need more information on light duty rules, call us at (202) 393-3320 and order your FREE copy of Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to Workers Compensation. 

  • 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 should I do? I’m Not Sure if I Should Get Workers Comp, FMLA or What.

    We’re getting this one a lot lately.

     

    Q:  I can’t work because I’m sick or hurt and my job sent me paperwork to apply for FMLA.  I’m not sure if I should get workers comp, FMLA or what. What should I do?

     

    A:  A couple of things here are important.  Usually when people tell us they’ve applied for FMLA or their company is putting their benefits under FMLA, they mean they have applied for short term or long term disability.

     

    So what is that?

     

    Many companies have short term and long term disability plans – disability insurance policies usually governed by a federal law called ERISA that should provide benefits if you are disabled because of an injury or medical condition and you can’t work.   There are a few key things to keep in mind – first there are strict timelines to appeal if your claim is denied. Second, there are a lot of conditions and exclusions in these policies – you may be required to file for social security disability benefits, you may be excluded if you can get workers comp benefits instead, and certain medical conditions may be excluded.

     

    Workers comp is a different system altogether for injuries at work (it has its own requirements under the law, but it’s much different than short or long-term disability If you're on long-term disability or think you might get on it, we can help you with that, too).

     

    But the #1 key thing to remember is that your HR department at your job doesn’t know all the differences or what will be best for you – even though they like you and mean well.

     

    So call us and let us walk you through it and get it straight – we handle all types of insurance and injury cases, so we understand how one type of case may affect the other.

     


     

  • Order Our Free Book to Get the Skinny on Light Duty.

     

    Light duty in workers compensation is confusing.  Every workers compensation insurance company seems to handle light duty differently, and sometimes it depends on the adjuster as well.

    Once you're hurt on the job and can't do your regular work because of the injury, but your doctor says you can return to work on restricted duty, light duty or with some restrictions, in D.C. your company can either accommodate those restrictions or continue to pay your workers compensation benefits in the form of temporary total disability.

    Some companies will "make up" a light duty job for you and others are adamant that they don't have light duty.  and if you're working light duty you should be paid your regular wages or salary, or they need to make up any difference by paying workers comp benefits in the form of temporary partial disability.

    You also need to make sure the light duty job is actually within your doctor's restrictions.

    There is a lot to know and do to protect yourself with any serious injury.  Don't guess or hope you do the right thing.  Get the answers you need by ordering a free copy of the only book written just for workers hurt on the job in the D.C. area - its the Ultimate Guide to D.C. workers compensation.

    Have an immediate need or pressing question?  Call us today at (202) 393-3320 and we'll do our best to answer it on the spot or set up a time to talk to you about it.

  • What is Perinatal Asphyxia?

    My child was born in a hospital in Washington, DC and we had to stay at the hospital due to perinatal asphyxia.

    What is perinatal asphyxia?

    Medical Malpractice and Perinatal Asphyxia in DC

    We've helped a lot of families just like yours, when their baby has cerebral palsy because of medical malpractice in a DC hospital. And we've written books, guides and reports to help people looking for a medical malpractice lawyer in DC, or wanting to know more about whether a medical malpractice case can help a child with severe disabilities.

    Here's what we've learned:

    Perinatal means the period of time immediately before and after birth.  Asphyxia is a lack of oxygen to the brain. 

    The diagnosis of perinatal asphyxia means the baby's brain wasn't getting enough oxygen just before or after birth.  Perinatal asphyxia can be a life threatening condition and can cause severe brain damage to the baby.  

    We have seen this diagnosis in some of our medical malpractice cases, and it can cause cerebral palsy, paralysis, blindness and other conditions in the baby.

    And in one case, a DC hospital never told the mom that her son's cerebral palsy was due to perinatal asphyxia, even though he got all of his health care at that hospital.  We had to tell her that, 18 years later, when we found out in the medical malpractice case that they had made the diagnosis shortly after he was born.

    So call us to see how we can help your family.  Just call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and speak to a real person who actually wants to talk to you and help!

    Order one of our free books today - get your information on medical malpractice -- it's your responsibility if you have a child who may have been affected.

     

    Call us at 202-393-3320 for more information.