D.C. Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, accidents and work injuries questions answered by D.C. injury attorneys.
Here are some of the questions people have when they first contact us about D.C., Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, serious car accidents or workers compensation.
We try to provide as much information as we can based on our experience as medical malpractice lawyers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and based on representing many hundreds of people who have been injured in accidents or at work in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Here are the basics:
Patients permanently injured by medical malpractice, or the families of patients killed because of medical negligence, when a hospital, HMO or healthcare corporation doesn't follow basic patient safety rules deserve justice - resources to help with the harms and losses due to the injuries or death of their loved one.
Drivers who don't follow the rules of the road, driving recklessly, driving drunk, speeding, and texting should be accountable for the harm they cause when their actions cause a car accident or wreck.
Workers hurt on the job deserve workers compensation benefits for lost wages, medical treatment and permanent injuries. If a worker is killed on the job, his family deserves workers compensation death benefits - to at least help with the financial loss of a loved one.
But since every person is unique, if you have questions or need information about an injury or death in your family, please contact us to talk it through. We'll talk to you, schedule a free initial meeting and give you all the information we can.
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I was injured in a car accident on the Beltway and hurt my back. Recently, my orthopedic doctor diagnosed sciatica. What is sciatica?
Sciatica is also called lumbar radiculopathy and its basically numbness, tingling and pain that goes from the low back into the buttock, hip, or down to leg into the toes depending on the severity. Sometimes you may hear it called a "pinched nerve."
It is caused by impingment, pressure or irritation of the nerves in the spinal area. This can be due to herniated or bulging disks, or injuries to the muscles or ligaments in the spine.
Many of our clients have experienced sciatica from trauma, such as in a car accident, or due to a sudden bending and twisting force, such as lifting something heavy at work.
It can be a serious condition, so we tell all of our clients to get the medical treatment from the appropriate medical specialist. And if it was caused by a car accident or work injury, take the steps to protect your legal rights.
We can talk through your specific rights. Just call us at (202) 393-3320.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer to Deal with my Car Accident?
Why do I need a lawyer for a car accident?
If you were injured in a car accident, it may feel like the individual at fault for the accident and their insurance company have immediately jumped into action to try to lessen their financial or legal responsibility for the accident in any way possible. It can be scary to deal with this on your own. Insurance adjusters may try to bully you into unfair agreements or to place blame for the accident onto you. For these reasons, it is important to hire a lawyer quickly who will make sure that you are meeting the aggression of the insurance company with forceful efforts to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve.
In addition to advocating for you, a lawyer will help you to understand your rights and will ensure that insurance companies aren’t misleading you, making false claims, or using complex technical and legal language as a means of confusing you into accepting a settlement that is less than what you are owed.
As this article explains, it is likely that after a car accident, you will have incurred numerous unexpected expenses such as car repairs, doctor’s office visits, or missing work. A lawyer will work to make sure that your settlement accounts for all of these factors, along with compensation for your suffering and other intangible effects of the accident. Even if you don’t file a lawsuit, it is important to have a lawyer available to help you navigate the often complicated process of reaching a settlement agreement.
Choosing a lawyer who genuinely cares about you and your case, has a track record of success in car accident cases, and clearly understands how to fight and win against big insurance companies is invaluable in making sure you end up with the best outcome possible. It wasn’t your fault that you were injured, and you should never be bullied by an insurance company that simply doesn’t want to award you compensation that you are owed.
Having a lawyer by your side as your tireless advocate will help you to focus on healing. You shouldn’t have to deal with the stress of navigating complicated legal proceedings. Leaving that responsibility in the hands of your lawyer will help you recover more quickly and return to the normal life that you are accustomed to.
If you are the victim of a car accident and are seeking legal representation, don’t hesitate to call us today at 202-393-3320. Whether you are hoping to file suit, reach a fair settlement, or simply would like more information about the work that lawyers like us do to help car accident victims, we would be happy to help you get started. We have years of experience dealing with car accident cases and are happy to share our knowledge with you at no obligation to you – in fact, we don’t get paid unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
When should I hire a lawyer after a serious car accident?
That is a great question - one that we get a lot.
If you have a serious injury, you can ignore those CALL NOW!!! WE'RE AGGRESSIVE!! WE GET YOU MONEY!! screeching TV commercials you see (and same for the internet pop-up ads).
If you were in a tiny fender bender with no real injury, just some stiffness and you want some lawyer to send you to his chiropractor buddy to run up a bill and get some small settlement that pays the lawyer and the chiropractor more than you...then go ahead and call one of those commercials.
And don't be fooled by the more "tasteful" ads - some lawyers are just better at making commercials but they do the same thing with your case.
Quick story - I was moderating a panel of judges at a forum with a group of trial lawyers a few years ago. It was like a debate, I'd ask the questions and follow up and the judges would answer them. Right before we started, we were talking informally and getting prepared. One of the judges saw a lawyer who had just switched firms to a big TV advertiser and was now featured in their commercials.
"Oh," the judge said, "I see you're a big TV star now."
It was not a compliment.
Back to your question. There's actually a lot that goes into the decision of when to hire the best lawyer for you and your family (and getting the right lawyer for you - someone you can trust to give you the honest, best guidance and advice on your case so you can focus on your rehab and be able to make the best decisions for yourself and your family - is critical). Remember, it's a relationship. You have to be able to trust each other.
There is no real hurry in getting a lawyer right away but there are a few things you shouldn't do:
Don't talk to the other drivers insurance company adjuster - they are trained to get statements from you when you're in pain, on medication, not thinking clearly, worrying about your injuries, etc. - they want to get you to say something damaging about your case, something that they could use to pay you less than you deserve.
There is no reason to feel pressured to talk to the adjuster - they won't "close your case" if you don't call back (that means absolutely nothing by the way). They don't pay your doctors, therapists, surgeons, specialists, or hospital directly, so that is never an issue (but they might tell you it is).
We tell people all the time that we want you to focus on getting better - on your healthcare decisions, on your rehab.
Yes, we are here for you and can talk to you, but I guarantee you will hear us say that if you call. And we want to help you whenever you call.
Sometimes someone just needs us to answer a question or two, or called another lawyer and got bad advice, or needs some clarification and support on the insurance coverage they have available or whether their health insurance has a lien against their case (subrogation, or a right to be repaid what they paid out if your case settles).
And sometimes people want us to take care of all of the legal issues from the beginning, so they can focus on getting better. If that's you, that's OK too, we're happy to do that for people who want that.
So there is no hard and fast rule on when to hire a lawyer after a serious injury, especially in a car crash (if the serious injury happened at work, that can complicate things so call us to help give you specific guidance on that). And don't wait until you're close to the statute of limitations - we won't take a case that is close to the statute of limitations (the deadline to file a lawsuit for your injuries) because we may not have enough time to thoroughly investigate it and give you the best guidance and advice.
The main thing is that you are comfortable and make the right decision for you and your family. We have a lot of resources on the process of hiring the best lawyer after a serious injury and what to expect if you've been in a serious accident in D.C., Virginia or Maryland - they are all free, with absolutely no obligation - just call or click on them and we'll get them right out to you!
What Should I Do After a Woman Backs Into Me in Washington, DC?
Yes, you heard right. I got hit by a car a few weeks ago in Washington DC during rush hour. I was minding my own business, riding on the sidewalk. You know those car garages in DC - there are a million of them and they usually have parking attendants. There was a car pulling out and so I rode behind her, only she changed her mind and backed into my right side - she sent me skidding to the left and tore a chunk out of my bike seat.
Can you believe it?
Unfortunately this kind of thing happens all too often. Cars, buses, trucks, distracted, not looking or paying attention. Pedestrians and bicyclists beware; even if you are following the rules that doesn't mean you will be safe.
Now, thankfully I didn't require hospitalization, surgery, or rehabilitation. In fact, other than being shaken up initially I was just fine. But what if that had not been the case? It made me think about how fragile life is and how easy it is to be seriously injured in a world where cars, trucks and big buses tend to block the intersection during a red light and force you into oncoming traffic to pass. Or simply follow the rhythms of traffic rather than obeying laws (which happens all the time in DC, Maryland and Virginia).
It's a scary thing. And I did notice, after some strenuous exercise over the weekend, that my left hip was misaligned slightly and I was in some pain/discomfort -which is a classic example of injuries creeping up after the fact. So you'd better believe I am going to visit the chiropractor this week so I can make my ballet class on Saturday.
Something like this also happened to one of our clients, a very good man, was hit as a pedestrian late last year and he has had and is requiring multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. He won't be able to go back to work anytime soon, if he can ever go back to work in the same capacity.
It can happen to anyone at anytime.
If you have been one of these unlucky people be seriously injured on the road, as a pedestrian, or on a bike you might want to call us and see if you need help from an attorney. I'm not saying you do, but chances are that if you require surgery and rehabilitation your medical bills and lost wages will be piling up.
Give us a call today at 202-393-3320. And don't forget to order our free book on car accidents.
Brooke M. Birkey
Education and Client Services
Have your own crazy story? Email me at [email protected] - you might make it into our newsletter!
Why Should I Review My Auto Insurance Policy?
WHY SHOULD I REVIEW MY AUTO INSURANCE POLICY? BECAUSE, IT'S THE GROWN-UP THING TO DO.
I don't know about you, but nobody ever explained to me the different parts of an auto insurance policy, the parts that I needed, the parts that were optional, and how it all plays out if I'm in an accident.
Once, when I had just purchased a used car, I drove off with it for the first time and promptly ran right into someone merging on the highway in Florida. It was totally my fault - I was driving distractedly. Even then, I wasn't educated on the different parts of my auto policy, and would have had no way of knowing whether or not I was getting a good deal for my total car replacement. And I would have never thought to inquire that the coverage I was carrying would be sufficient to cover the medical expenses of someone who was seriously injured.
I was also 19 years old, so don't hold that against me......and thankfully the woman that I hit was okay physically. But, this is not always the case.
So here's your crash course in how car insurance works.
Obviously, the laws are different here in Washington, DC but the basic premises are the same. The car that caused the accident is responsible for all of the damage, including the medical expenses of the person that's been hit.
Liability Insurance is the total amount that your insurance carrier will cover if you cause an accident. It usually fleshes out in three numbers: 100/300/50. This works out to $100,000.00 per person for injuries, $300,000.00 for injuries total per accident, and $50,000.00 property damage per accident. This is a common coverage structure.
Liability Insurance is also meant to protect you from being sued personally for an accident that you cause. Generally speaking, the amount of coverage you purchase should be enough to cover the assets you are set to lose if you do end up getting sued personally. So, you'd better carry enough.
Each state has mandates for liability insurance -and this is total BS because in the DMV it's only $25,000.00. Which is a drop in the bucket if you are seriously injured.
You'd better believe that if you are in a serious accident and the foreseeable expenses exceed those numbers, the insurance adjuster will be on the phone with you immediately, trying to get you to settle out before you know the full extent of the damages. Resist the urge to trust them - and call us at 202-393-3320.
Liability coverage is also sometimes called bodily injury protection.
Now, let's say that you are Joe Responsible and you are carrying the 100/300/50 type of liability insurance. That's great -- but not everyone on the road is as conscientious as you.
So you're on the Beltway, going the speed limit, not checking your phone, listening to an audio book and someone else rams you from behind and causes you to ram into the car in front of you. You can't control how other people drive, and now you have a serious back and neck injury, concussion, and require surgery. Worse, you have a physically demanding job and you can't go back to work for at least six months.
This really stinks - someone else's terrible driving (maybe the 19 year-old version of me) just ruined your day, your month, maybe even your year. And that 19-year old has no idea what car insurance coverages he or she has while she was jamming to the radio, checking her phone, and reaching for her coffee. (Yep - busted).
Her $25,000.00 policy is going to be chump change when it comes to the medical treatment you require, your lost wages, and attorney's fees.
This is why you carry Uninsured Motorist (UM) or Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM).
This is also why you carry Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP).
These two types of coverage are going to step in and make sure you are cared for if the person who hit you has the minimum insurance coverages, or worse, no coverage at all.
Yes, we do see people who have been in a hit-and-run accident and then it becomes a criminal matter. There's nothing you can do if the person gets away.
You have to decide the level of UIM or UM coverage that you want, but it should be at least the amount that you are carrying in liability coverage because your liability carrier is not going to cover an accident that was someone else's fault.
Additionally some people carry Personal Injury Protection insurance which is a no-fault type of coverage that will generally cover medical bills and lost wages. Your insurance company might have additional coverage options, like MedPay (another no-fault type of medical coverage).
So I know you're like - with this information, I'm on top of this. Why would I need to call a lawyer?
I'm so glad you asked. I like the call this the terrible three's - liens, bills, and subrogation.
While you are navigating the world of medical treatment, you may blithely assume that your insurance adjuster is going to deal fairly with your compensation. And if you're not keeping careful track of your bills, and lost wages, you may find that the offer the adjuster is making sounds pretty good. But what sounds good for the moment may not be the right thing for you in the long haul, which is hard to see when you're in the thick of it.
That's where we come in. For our clients, we deal with the insurance adjuster (and for car accidents there are usually multiple adjusters - one per policy). We keep track of your medical records and bills, and we know exactly how much your personal insurance company is going to come back to you for when the settlement starts to close out. This is called subrogation.
Just a couple of weeks ago I spoke to someone who'd had a major injury after an accident on the Bay Bridge, and his personal health insurance company was trying to get him to settle for a reduced amount before the settlement had become final. You'd better believe that was a calculated move- they wanted to make sure that they got their money, and they were trying to manipulate a seriously injured guy who didn't realize that the personal insurance company doesn't even have a legal right to their "share" before the settlement becomes final.
What the personal insurance carrier has is called a lien, which is a financial interest in the recovery because the accident was actually caused by someone else. This is how the insurance industry works. In spite of the fact that the injured guy had been paying into his insurance premiums for years. the insurance company is still entitled to a recovery from the settlement because the accident was caused by someone else.
Subrogation is a bit of a racket, but that's a conversation for another day......
Want to learn more about how it works to have an attorney in a serious auto accident case? You won't be sorry - we only take cases where we add value, so you have nothing to lose. Call us today at 202-393-3320.Brooke BirkeyParalegalDirector of Client Services
What Happens if I Have A Workers' Comp Claim and a Car Accident Settlement at the Same Time?
Can you have a workers' compensation claim in DC at the same time as a automobile insurance claim?
The answer is YES. In fact, we've seen it happen more than once. For all of those people who drive as a part of their job yes - you could potentially have simultaneous auto insurance claims and workers' compensation claims.
No need to fret. It's just a matter of managing 2 cases at the same time, with different rules, time restrictions and insurance policies - which is just a part of what we do at Donahoe Kearney when we representing an injured worker whose injuries were caused by someone else or another company.
We can also manage a workers' compensation claim and a third-party claim at the same time. Take, for example, a construction worker who was injured on the job site, so he/she is entitled to a workers' comp claim. But let's say, at the same time, a third-party, like another contractor, was responsible for the accident. Well then you have two claims and you may be entitled to two separate settlements.
It's complicated because there is overlap between the 2 cases, but that's why you come here! We do everything we can to maximize both cases to take care of you financially after a serious accident at work caused by someone else - another driver, a different company, a contractor, you name it.
Do you have multiple claims and you are not sure where to start? Give us a call at 202-393-3320 to speak to someone who wants to hear your story.
Why Would I need a Lawyer After an Accident in D.C., Maryland or Virginia?
YOU MIGHT NOT.
Huh? That's not what you expecting me to say, right?
Here's the thing: one of the hallmarks of our practice is that we don't pretend like you need a lawyer when you really don't. If you're in a fender bender, you have minor injuries, and you're back to work, then you probably don't need a lawyer.
In our view, people need lawyers for car accidents when they are devastated by a serious car accident, they need surgery, can't work for a long time, have permanent injuries and other legal issues - like multiple, complicated insurance policies to deal with. You know those three-car crashes where the cars are totaled, that happen too frequently on the beltway? Those people probably need lawyers.
There are all kinds of things that can go wrong in a serious car accident, after the fact. One glaring example is if the person who put you in the hospital doesn't have enough insurance to cover your medical treatment. Yes, we see that happen more often than we would like.
Car insurance policies are kind of like onions - at least they can and they should be if you are interested in being fully covered in case you're in an accident. In addition to being robustly covered by liability and bodily coverages in your policy, it's also very smart to carry underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) and uninsured motorist coverage (UM) as well as medical payments coverage - which will take care of you if you are hit by somebody who carries the minimum (25k) or worse, none at all.
You want to be in the situation where the longer you are treating for your accident-related injuries, the more the insurance policies and coverage come out of the woodwork to offer you more money to cover your medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
We talk about UIM and UM coverage all the time because let's face it- it's heartbreaking to see someone physically and emotionally devastated by someone else's reckless driving only to discover that they will be responsible for thousands and thousands of dollars worth of medical expenses because the other driver only carried the minimum.
So, to answer the original question - do you need a lawyer for your accident case? The answer is, it depends. And if you're not sure, give us a call at 202-393-3320 and we will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with some free resources that can help you make that decision.
Want to learn more? I hope so. Click here to begin to ask the big questions - the questions that really matter if you are in a serious car accident.
And give us a call at 202-393-3320 to speak to a real person who wants to hear your story today.
Why would you call my insurance company after I was hurt in a car accident that was the other driver's fault?
First, you shouldn't talk to the other driver's insurance company after a serious injury - in our experience, people just aren't ready to do that right away (so we do that for them!).
But why would we call your insurance company if the accident was the other driver's fault?
We've all heard that the other drivers insurance should take care of us if he causes the accident - pay for our medical expenses, lost income, damage to the car and our other harms and losses he caused - and that's all true. And may be easy enough to do if the injuries are not serious.
But I'm talking about a serious, life threatening injury caused by another driver, where you need surgery, hospitalization, rehab and ongoing medical treatment and can't go to work until your injuries heal.
And the issue we see with those kinds of serious injury cases is sometimes one you don't want to hear - that the driver who hit you, who caused the crash and admitted fault, got a ticket, was found responsible - he doesn't have very much insurance coverage. You see, it's perfectly legal to drive with car insurance limits of $25,000 or $30,000 in this area. That means, no matter how serious the accident and injuries in the DC, Maryland or Virginia, that is all his insurance company will ever pay you. It doesn't matter if your bills are $200,000 or you need several surgeries, years of rehab or can never return to work.
You feel like you've been victimized twice - first by the crash, now by the insurance company...
And as a lawyer who wants to help people, this is one of the hardest things to tell you.
Maybe you can go through litigation, win the case and get a judgment against the driver. Then maybe you can garnish his wages or put a lien on his property, but let's face it, people with low limits of insurance usually don't have many assets or much money to protect, certainly not enough to pay for the harm they caused you. You should still investigate that but it's a long shot...
But if you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, you will be protected against that driver (and if you don't have this or don't know, call your insurance company and get it added to your policy). That insurance coverage is there to protect you and your family - it takes the place of the limited insurance the driver who hit you has.
So that's one of the first things we investigate for you - the insurance coverage - and one of the first calls we make is to your insurance company to verify the amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage you have. I don't recommend you talk to the insurance company right away - at least until you talk to us or read one of our free guides, books or reports on serious accidents, so you know how the system works.
And if you think we're right for you, just call us at (202) 393 - 3320. If we work with you, we'll tell you to focus on your rehab and getting better and we'll take care of the rest for you - we take away the anxiety, stress and uncertainty while you bet better.
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.
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.