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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  • Why does my health insurance say they have a lien against my "recovery" in my accident case settlement?

    Dear Donahoe Kearney:

    Okay, I'll be honest. I'm not one of those people who reads all the fine print. When I was in a serious accident last year I went to the hospital, and from there I had to follow up with a surgeon to repair my torn rotator cuff - it actually ended up being two surgeries. The guy literally plowed into me on the highway in Washington, DC going 55 miles per hour and my shoulder just went nuts.

    I spoke to the insurance company of the guy that crushed my car, and they said they would cover my hospital bills when I was done healing. I said "great," and went along my way. A friend told me I should probably speak to an attorney especially since I was going to be out of work for a long time, but I don't really like lawyers and I'm not the suing kind. I figured I could take care of it on my own.

    That was almost a year ago and I'm almost done with physical therapy. I had to be out of work for six months (I am a police officer) which means I had to borrow against my pension to keep current on my bills. But I got a letter in the mail this week from my insurance company (my health insurance -- not my auto insurance) stating that they have a 'lien' in the amount of $100,000.00 against my "recovery."

    What are they talking about? And the letter says something about subrogation. What is that?

    And what recovery? The insurance company has not given me one red cent as of yet.

    So, I went back to that friend to see if he had any advice to give me and he said "call a lawyer -- like today." 

    Can you help me?

    From, Concerned Police Officer 


    Dear Concerned Police Officer:

    We can help! Don't worry, your situation is not abnormal. A lot of people don't know that they are entitled to lost wages after a serious auto accident, and they don't know that their health insurance can assert a lien (which is basically a legal right to recover what they spent on you in medical treatment from a lawsuit -- it sucks, but it's true). The lien is the dollar amount they spent on your medical treatment, and the practice of asserting that dollar amount is called subrogation.

    The only way to deal with  subrogation (basically they would take $100,000.00 out of what the insurance company pays you) is to 1) keep very careful track of your bills and medical records, making sure everything they assert was related to the accident, 2) negotiate a settlement that will cover your bills, your medical treatment going forward, and your lost wages.

    If it's a small case we often encourage people to handle these things on their own (and we have a DIY worksheet we can send you to help you along). But it sounds like you have a big case, and you will probably need assistance negotiating with the insurance company. See, it's the job of the insurance adjusters to pay you as little as possible, and if you don't know your rights and you don't have practice negotiating or understanding the insurance company you will want a practiced attorney to advocate on your behalf (and get you back those dollars you lost borrowing against your pension). And the insurance company will only pay out once (at the end of your claim) so you want to be sure you didn't miss anything that should be covered in your settlement.

    Also - if you live or work in Virginia, your health insurance may not be able to assert a lien (depends on a couple of factors, so call us for a specific analysis of that).

    Don't take my word for it - check out what other people have said about working with Donahoe Kearney and if you are comfortable after that, give us a call at 202-393-3320. We would be happy to review your case for no cost or obligation - we don't get paid unless you get paid.

    Thanks so much for contacting us.

    Best Regards,

    Donahoe Kearney

  • What the hell do I do now that some bad driver hit me on the Beltway?

    Accident Cases in DC, Maryland and VA

    It happens all the time in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Most weeks there is at least one day where there is a significant accident on the Beltway, backing up traffic for miles. Drivers learn to drive extremely defensively, and the chances are pretty high that you might get into an accident through no fault of your own.

    You're already highly frustrated that some guy plowed into the rear of your vehicle going 60 mph in a 35. You don't want to deal with the police officers, emergency vehicles, and the worst -- insurance adjusters.

    But don't cut corners just because you are frustrated.

    You may "hurry" yourself out of thousands of dollars.

    Let's get down to basics. The very first thing you need to do is make sure that you get proper medical treatment. If you're hurt, you should go to the emergency room. Injuries, especially post-traumatic ones, can show up days, weeks, or even months after the impact. And if it's on the later side, you will have a really hard time connecting the injury to the accident, and the insurance company will likely deny your claim for injuries.

    Most people believe that the insurance adjuster's denial letter is the end of their chances for a claim.

    It's not true! Call us at 202-393-3320 to learn more.

    The Second Thing you need to do is get a copy of the police report (oh yeah - always call the police) and also a copy of the other driver's insurance policy. If you have been seriously injured, the legal limit for driver's insurance ($25,000.00) may not cover your injuries, lost wages, and other incidentals. You may need to make a claim against your own insurance (using your UIM coverage) and that adjuster might give you trouble as well.

    Here's what we do for victims of major accidents.

    Read on to discover the truth about whether or not you need a lawyer.

    We serve as the point of contact with your insurance company

    so you don't have to mess with it at all.

    We will persistently follow up on any claims on the other driver's insurance, and your insurance

    We will negotiate with insurance adjusters on your behalf to make sure they give you every dime you've paid for through your premiums, and every dime you're entitled to under the other driver's insurance.

    We will stay on top of your medical billing and medical records and keep them in nice, neat binders so that when your adjuster is contentious, we can squash the potential denials before they even happen.

    We will explain complicated terms of insurance mumbo jumbo to you.

    If you have a serious, permanent injury from the accident and there is enough insurance coverage to help you and make a meaningful difference in your life, we'll file a lawsuit and go to court for you - no matter how long it takes.

    Sound good to you? Give us a call at 202-393-3320 today to request more free information, and speak with a real person who will listen and help you process your information.  

  • Can I sue Lyft or Uber if I'm in a serious accident while taking a car in DC?


    You can sue Uber or Lyft if they cause an accident in the DMV.

    So - if the Uber or Lyft driver was at fault and caused the crash in DC, Maryland and Virginia, you can sue them.  Any time another driver (or the company he works for) doesn't follow the rules of the road and causes serious injuries, they should be held accountable.  But remember, they have to cause the crash - in other words, just being a passenger in an Uber or Lyft car doesn't mean you can sue them if another car hits the Uber you are in, for example - but you would have a claim against that driver and his insurance.

    It's been widely reported that both services carry $1 million of liability insurance that is available to pay for your harms and losses as long as they were caused by one of their drivers who was working as a driver at the time.

    Any situation in which you were seriously hurt due to someone else's actions might lead to a personal injury claim, or a lawsuit to hold the responsible person or company accountable and to pay for your harms and losses. But the question you are asking is, when you're in an accident in an Uber or Lyft, which driver is responsible and do they have insurance?

    Let me break it down for you. If you are in your own car, and somebody plows into you, who do you get an insurance claim against? The other driver of course, unless it's a hit and run or they are underinsured (or underinsured) -- in which case you absolutely need to click here.

    So, if you are in a car accident and your friend is driving their car, whose insurance is going to pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, and future expenses? Hopefully (again unless they are uninsured or underinsured) your friend's insurance will cover all of it. The exact same thing is true of Lyft or Uber.

    Do you have questions that you want to ask right now? Call us at 202-393-3320. We have qualified intake specialists waiting for your call.

    Lyft drivers required to carry insurance and here's how it breaks down.  Similarly, Uber drivers are required to carry insurance, but what if they are not driving for the service, they're just on a personal trip and only have the state minimum which in the DMV is a sadly inadequate $25,000.00? 

    What is $25,000.00 going to do for you

    if you are in a serious accident?

    Here's the thing about who we represent in serious auto accidents -- they carry Underinsured Motorists Coverage, or UIM. Why? Because if you are in a serious accident your medical bills could easily exceed $100,000.00 (especially with hospitalization, surgery and future care and treatment) and, what about for your lost wages if you can no longer work?

    There are enough distracted drivers in the DMV to make this a serious issue. How many of those people driving angrily, or talking on their cell phones, are carrying the state's minimum on insurance?

    Kind of a scary proposition, isn't it?

    The reality is that no matter how serious your injury is, if you aren't properly insured there's not much we (or any attorneys) can do for you.

    We manage your medical records and bills, and negotiate a higher settlement from the insurance company.

    But if you don't have proper insurance, we don't have much to negotiate with.

    So what's the lesson? Get UIM insurance! It's not expensive, and you'll never be sorry you got it.

    And if you want us to review your uninsured motorist coverage, just call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and we'll arrange that with you.


  • After an accident, can I use my uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage?

    Car Insurance After an Accident

    Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is something every driver in DC, Virginia or Maryland should have - here's why:

    It is the insurance coverage you can use after a serious accident when the other driver doesn't have any liability or car insurance or doesn't have enough to pay for all of the harms he caused as a resultof the accident - your medical bills, hospitalization, physical therapy, rehab, medications - everything you now need to recover from the accident (for as long as you need it) plus the lost income if you can't work, and all of the other damages for personal injury cases allowed under the law, like pain, suffering, permanent injury, future medical care, future lost income and others.

    Your UM/UIM coverage will step in and pay up to the limits of your policy.  Here's how it works:

    Let's say a driver is on his phone and crashes into you on 495 because he wasn't paying attention and crossed the line into your lane of traffic. Your car was totaled and you suffered serious injuries - a torn rotator cuff, a broken leg, a concussion.  You spent 3 days in the hospital after surgery on the fractured femur and you need another surgery on the rotator cuff.  You're facing a long recovery of medical specialists, physical therapy, and rehab.

    And you're paid by the hour in a physical job your doctors have said you can't do for at least 6 months - and if you don't work, you don't get paid.

    The driver's insurance company calls and says they are responsible for the accident he caused (great).  But they only have $25,000 in coverage, so that is the most the insurance company will ever pay. Your hospital and surgery bills are already more than $25,000!

    Is it fair? No.  Is it legal? Yes.

    If you have UM/UIM, that coverage will make up the difference, up to your policy limit.  Let's say you had a $300,000 UM/UIM policy - then after the other driver's insurance offered their policy limit of $25,000, your insurance would pay up to another $275,000 for a total of $300,000.

    If you didn't have UM/UIM coverage on your policy, you'd be stuck with the $25,000 or trying to collect from the driver personally (and people with minimum insurance policies usually don't have much money...)

    Will your insurance company just pay you the UM/UIM coverage? No - they are not in the business of just giving away money. Can you settle a UM/UIM case?  Absolutely - and here's one we worked on recently.

    Check you Declaration Page on your own insurance policy (and if you can't find it, you can get this online from most insurance companies.  We're happy to review it with you, just fax it to (202) 393 - 3324 or email it to [email protected] with the subject UM/UIM and we'll set up a time to talk about it at no charge.




  • Do I Need To Share My Medical Records with a Car Accident Attorney in DC that I'm thinking about hiring for my case?


    So, you've called a D.C. lawyers office and hopefully you have spoken to a warm, inquisitive person who wants to hear your story (that's what we do at Donahoe Kearney -- you'll never hear us pick up the phone and say "law office"). That person takes you through a series of questions, which you may or may not feel like answering, considering all you wanted to do was find out how much an attorney costs, and whether or not you have a case.

    It may be frustrating to know that even at the outset with all of the questions, we may not know whether or not you have a case until we've reviewed other things like medical records, insurance correspondence, pay stubs, police report, photos, etc.

    We know that the process can be frustrating but here's the thing; we are not a "run of the mill" type of law firm. We promise to never take your case just so we can run it through the mill and collect a check after settling quickly (like some of those firms you see on TV). All of our cases we have taken because we have reviewed all of the materials, thoughtfully analyzed the case, and decided that your case is a case we think we can win and get something for you that makes your life better.

    That's just the kind of firm we are.

    Now, back to the process. We may ask you for additional information, like medical records or a copy of your insurance policy (depending on the type of case it is) and we always keep these records completely confidential and don't share them with anyone unless you've given us express permission. 

    Even if it turns out in the end that we are not the best fit for your case (sometimes the geographic location makes a difference, or the merits of the case lie outside of our practice area) we will do our best to either A) refer your case out to a trusted associate we know will do a good job or B) put enough information in your hands that you can handle the matter on your end.

    That's just the kind of firm we are.

    So, do you need to share your medical records with a prospective attorney? The answer is, maybe. But don't forget to ask the good questions. 
    Will my records be treated confidentially? What will happen to my records once you are doing reviewing them? 
    If you have questions about what it takes to hire an attorney in DC, Maryland or Virginia, don't be shy! Give us a call at 202-393-3320 and we would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

  • Should I Hire A Lawyer From a TV Commercial For My Serious Injury Case?

    Great question - how do you find the best lawyer for your injury case?

    There is no doubt that there are many, many lawyers to choose from in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia, and many say they specialize in injury or accident cases. 

    Some of those lawyers have big, fancy billboards, their name on the side of a bus, or star in their own TV commercials. But you have to ask yourself  this simple question:

    Why?  Why do they have to advertise like that?

    (Because they have to? Because they would rather spend money on ads than on your case? Because they've already taken care of everything for you and have extra time on their hands)? 

    We don't know the answers to these questions (and you don't either), but here's the real question:

    Is this the best law firm in the D.C. area

    to help me with all of the problems caused by my serious injury? 

    Lots of big law firms advertise they handle 27 types of cases.  But that doesn't mean they are good at 27 different things - who is? Just because they advertise for medical malpractice, personal injury or workers' compensation doesn't mean that they are right for you.  In fact, lots of times these law firms will give you first-year and second-year associates (fresh out of law school), who have a mountain of other work to do ( a ton of other cases, research memos for partners, business networking, attending lower level meetings, and so on) and they don't have the time or the experience to handle your case well.

    When it comes to medical malpractice, you really have to do your homework to find the right lawyer, otherwise you can waste valuable time with an inexperienced lawyer who will not be able to move forward with your case.  This area is complicated, time consuming and costly - that's why we take only medical malpractice cases with catastrophic injuries - we don't want to put you through years of litigation that won't help you and your family (and we tell you that up front).

    Personal injury is yet another field of law that can fall prey to this advertising mill mentality. Some law firms will take personal injury cases and "run them through the mill," which means that they will handle the casework as though it is paint-by-numbers and do whatever they need to in order to settle quickly and make quick money. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense for them to take the small cases that they do because they can't possibly give all of the cases the personal attention that they deserve and make money at the same time.

    We get calls from folks who have been "accepted" by a "mill firm" and they haven't heard from their attorney in six months or EVER.  And sometimes, even though they have a good case, we can't represent them because the case has already been screwed up by their other attorney.

    So, you may be asking, "what's different about Donahoe Kearney?" Well, I'll tell you.

    Attorneys Frank Kearney and Keith Donahoe are specialists. At Donaohe Kearney, all we do is represent people with serious injuries who need to be compensated in order to fairly adjust their lifestyle and pay for things like not being able to feed your family because you can no longer work, modifying your home to accomodate your injuries, and getting the future medical care you need.

    And we don't take every case that comes our way. If we did, we would never be able to give the time and attention to each case, warranted by the needs of the client and the case. We will work tirelessly to make sure that you are made as whole as possible after a serious injury -- just ask any of our past clients.

    And if you think we may be the right lawyers for you, call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to get started working with us.




  • I Just Assume the Insurance Company Will Pay After an Accident -- Right?


    Here's what your dad probably taught you when you first started driving. If you get in an accident, call the police and get the insurance information. They pay for the damage, and you deal with your end.

    That's good advice, but it's not the whole story. 

    The truth is that any insurance adjuster, in any industry, is tasked with limiting both liability and financial exposure on behalf of their company. Which means that you have to be prepared to prove, and fight for, the benefits that you are owed after a car accident.

    ​Now first of all -- follow your dad's advice because without a police report it can be very difficult to enforce an insurance claim: especially if you are seriously injured. Make sure all of the insurance information is getting on the police report (simply speak to the officer about it) and make sure you have the same information for your personal records. Get the name of your officer and his badge information. This is all just very simple information gathering that you do after an auto accident.

    You will also want to photograph all of the damage (both to your car and theirs) before the other driver drives away because you will likely never see them again.

    Next, we would recommend always going to the emergency room, even if you don't  have a serious injury. Some injuries are latent and you won't feel their effects until weeks down the road. If you have something like a sore neck and spine, you may not even relate it to the injury if it starts hurting later. It's always better to get checked out immediately, and then once you start to experience symptoms, visit your primary care doctor.

    Now, when do you need a lawyer for your accident case?

    Most of the time if your injuries are minor and the insurance company is cooperating, you can probably handle the case on your own with one of our free books or reports to assist you. 

    But, if you have more serious injuries with protracted medical care, surgery, and can't work, you will probably need an attorney to  prove your case and negotiate a settlement on your behalf. (plus determine how much insurance coverage the at fault driver has and file a lawsuit to hold that driver and his insurance company accountable).  

    We'll help you do what's right for you and your familly after a car accident in DC, Maryland or Virginia.  Call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to get started.

  • Statute of Limitations -- What Is It?

    The Wex Legal Dictionary defintes "statute of limitations" as Any law that bars claims after a certain period of time passes after an injury.  The period of time varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of claim.  

    Statutes of limitations exist for both civil and criminal causes of action, and begin to run from the date of the injury, or the date it was discovered, or the date on which it would have been discovered with reasonable efforts.  Many statutes of limitations are actual legislative statutes, while others may come from judicial common law

    That is the legal definition. But what does it mean for your case? Are there statutes of limitation (SOL) for motor vehicle accidents? Workers' comp? Medical malpractice?

    The answer for all of these is YES.

    Want to learn more about motor vehicle accidents? Click here. Workers' comp? Click here. Medical malpractice? Click here.

    The SOL will differ in case types, and in geographic locations (jurisdictions like DC, Maryland and Va. all have different laws on this). For medical malpractice the SOL will run out in 2 or 3 years, genearlly speaking. Click here for more information about that. For workers' comp the SOL in Washington, DC will run out one year after the injury happened, or after the employer became aware of the injury. Virginia and Maryland have different rules. Click for more information on workers' comp. The SOL for personal injury (car accident or otherwise) is three years. Click here for more information personal injury.

    Thankfully, kids usually get extra time after an injury, (and we won probably the most significant child injury statute of limitations case in DC for a child with cerebral palsy that was caused by medical malpractice that happened at birth)  but it varies from place to place - so for a child's injury in DC, Maryland or Virginia, call us and we'll talk you through it. 

    As you can see, if you have been seriously injured you don't have time to waste. It's better to call us now to make a determination about your case, than to wait and try to file later. While you wait you may lose memory and important documents, and get delayed in treatment. You can call us today at 202-393-3320 for no cost and no obligation. So what have you got to lose?

  • What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage (or UIM) and Do I Need It?

    What if I get hit by a driver without insurance?

    All too often we see serious crashes on the Beltway. The question you should ask yourself is: “Am I really protected if I get hit by a driver without insurance?” 

    We recently settled a case for a gentleman who was hit by somebody who only had the D.C. legal minimum insurance coverage of $25,000.00 (Maryland and Virginia are similar - bad drivers are not required to have much insurance coverage).  When he got hit by this driver cutting across 3 lanes of traffic, and needed surgery two weeks later, his medical treatment costs came out to be way more than that.

    What would the good driver have done if he didn't have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)?

    It's bad enough when you get hit in an accident that is not your fault; causing injury to you and your family and damaging your car. But what happens if you have significant medical needs and costs and can't work because of your injuries as a result? 

    Even though liability car insurance is mandatory in most states, not everybody who drives has it. And then consider the number of people who are driving around with the minimum amount of coverage. You and your family can't afford to take the risk.

    Underinsured motorist coverage is optional insurance you can purchase that will cover you in the event you find yourself hit by a driver with little to no insurance coverage. UIM coverage is usually inexpensive, and once activated it will step in to cover your medical and other related expenses if you have been hit by somebody who is not insurance or underinsured.

    If your UIM insurance policy limit is higher than that of the liabilty insurance of the person who hit you, the other driver is underinsured.

    Do you have adequate UIM coverage? If not, call your insurance company today and increase your limits. Protect yourself and your family from the irresponsible drivers we see every day - just look around you at all of the people weaving in and out of traffic on the Beltway and 95, driving aggressively and on their phones. 

    And if you are in an accident, act quickly to protect your rights. Get proof of the other driver’s insurance, get the police report and contact your own insurance company. And give us a call at 202-393-3320. We'll send you The Ultimate Guide to Accident Cases in the DMV. 

    Or order your free copy right now and get started right away!

  • 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.