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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  • 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. 

  • What Happens After a Functional Capacity Exam?

    What is a Functional Capacity Exam and What Do I Need to Know About it in DC?

    After an on the job injury in D.C., many times the workers compensation insurance adjuster or nurse case manager will schedule the injured worker for a functional capacity evaluation, or FCE. This is basically a test used to clarify the injured worker's limitations or work restrictions.  Sometimes a treating physician or IME doctor (insurance company doctor) will recommend it. Usually the test lasts for several hours and consists of lifting, moving, walking up stairs - somewhat like work hardening or certain types of physical therapy.  It is usually done under the direction of a physical therapist.

    An unbiased physical therapist will accurately record how much or how often the injured worker can lift, carry, or climb stairs or ladders.  As with all things involving workers compensation insurance companies, you have to be careful. 
    There are certain companies conducting FCEs that market themselves to insurance companies and get all of their business from them.  They are more likely to have physical therapists try to say that the injured worker has "pain behaviors" or "symptom magnification" and attempt to document this on their official-looking forms.

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

    Have You Been Scheduled for a Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) and Don't Know What to Expect? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Getting Started With A Long Term Disability Claim

    If you are getting ready to file for long term disability because of an injury or serious medical condition, there is a lot to consider - when to file, how to gather the evidence you need, how to convince the insurance company that you are disabled under the terms and conditions of your long term disability policy.

    One of the keys to a successful long term disability claim is your doctor.

    How do you talk to your doctor about long term disability?

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

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

    Your doctor has never read your disability policy - he doesn't know what it says or how it defines disability.

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

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

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

    Remember these 3 tips when talking to your doctor about long term disability.

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

    1.  Doctors are busy - really busy.  You may need to request and pay for extra time to see your doctor and discuss your condition because a routine visit may not give you enough time. Most doctors have a separate fee schedule for their time to handle legal matters - write reports, work as expert witnesses, complete forms. See if your doctor can do this - and above all be prepared when you meet with him. Even 15 minutes of undivided attention can make a big difference in helping your doctor understand what you need to give to the insurance company.


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


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

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

    As long term disability lawyers, we work with your physicians, specialists and other experts.

    We do everything we can to put your case in the best position to get the benefits you deserve, no matter where you are in the process.  Call us or contact us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to get more information on how we can help you best prepare to file your long term disability claim or file your appeal after your claim was denied.

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




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

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

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

    They'll tell you it’s free. So is all of your medical treatment under DC workers compensation. Don't believe it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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

    Unfortunately, not many lawyers know that.

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


  • 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.

    Click here to get more questions answered on car accidents and insurance companies.

  • 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.When Should I File in DC, Maryland, or Virginia?

    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. 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:

          1.  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.

    Contact our Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today.

    Those who have been catastrophically injured (paralysis, losing a limb, sepsis, birth injury, etc) need a lawyer to help them navigate the complex world of medical litigation. In addition to needing to have the medical records reviewed by an expert, any major medical malpractice case will involve lots of expert medical witnesses and complicated legal strategy. Contact us at 202-393-3320 to see if we might be a good fit for your case. We have reached many top tier settlements and won verdicts for those who have been seriously wronged by the medical system or by a practiioner.