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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Can You Use Health Insurance For Your Medical Treatment After a Serious Car Accident?
Can You Use Health Insurance For Your Medical Treatment After a Serious Car Accident?
We get that question a lot. Sometimes we hear that doctors don't want to take your health insurance after you've been in an accident. They'd rather wait until your case settles or "bill" the other driver's insurance.
Well that's good for them but bad for you. Here's why:
DON'T SIGN AN AGREEMENT THAT SAYS YOU'LL PAY OUT OF SETTLEMENT
If you sign an agreement that the doctor will get paid out of settlement, you're agreeing to pay the doctor the full amount you are billed, instead of the amount your health insurance pays. Plus, you are still on the hook for the bill, even if you lose your case. And it's usually less than the full amount of the doctor's charges.
Health insurance pays no matter how you get hurt, or why you need medical treatment. Yes, they may have the right to be repaid out of settlement (that's called subrogation) but only if you win or settle the case. Plus, it's usually less that the full amount of the doctor's charges.
If you have any questions on this, just give us a call at 202-393-3320 and we'll help you work through it.
If I'm in an accident that was the other driver's fault, should I use my health insurance to pay for the medical treatment and bills I have from the accident?
If you are injured in a car accident in Maryland, Virginia or D.C. you can use your health insurance to pay for medical treatment from the accident. Its really a question of whether your health insurance company has a lien or right to be paid back from a settlement with the other driver's insurance company.
In D.C. and Maryland, most health plans require repayment of what they have paid for medical treatment if someone gets a settlement or verdict from the other driver's insurance company.
In Virginia, most health plans cannot recover their payments from a settlement (this is also called subrogation) because of Virginia's anti-subrogation statute.
Typically, most health insurance plans pay less than the actual charges, so it is usually better for someone injured in an automobile accident to use their health insurance rather than agree with the doctor or hospital to pay the medical bills out of any settlement because the health care providers will be entitled to the full amount from the settlement and if the case doesn't settle, is lost or not pursued, you are still on the hook for the medical bills.
The analysis also depends on whether you were injured in an accident in D.C. Maryland and Virginia, where you live, where you work (if that's where you get your health insurance), other car insurance you may have, etc.
If you have questions about what to do after a D.C., Maryland or Virginia accident, just call us at (202) 393-3320 and we'll talk it through.
I was in an accident that wasn't my fault. Will the other driver's insurance company pay my hospital bills?
After a serious accident in the DMV, the other driver's insurance doesn't pay your medical bills as you go - here's what to do about that.
We get this question a lot. A lot of people think the other driver's insurance company will take care of their medical bills - the hospitalization, surgery, rehab, specialists you need after getting hurt in a big accident in DC, Maryland or Virginia. But it doesn't work this way. The other driver's insurance won't pay those medical bills directly.
Instead - here's what you need to do.
First, if you have health insurance, use it. Depending on where you live and what health insurance you have, you may have to pay back what your health insurance paid out of any settlement - that's ok for a couple of important reasons. First, your health insurance doesn't pay the full amount of the charges, so you only have to pay back what the health insurance paid, not what the hospital or doctor actually charged. Second, you only have to pay it back if you win or settle your case against the other driver's insurance company - they are not entitled to anything if you lose the case or never receive a settlement.
Second, understand how the system works. Educate yourself on the insurance claims process - what kind of damages are allowed and how will you prove things like medical expenses, future medical needs and expenses, pain, future lost income and the other types of damages you may be entitled to as a result of the accident.
Third, keep records of everything. In any case against the other driver's insurance company, if you can prove the other driver was at fault and that you were injured, you may be able to get a settlement, but this comes at the end of the process, usually after your injuries have healed or you don't need any more medical treatment from the accident. You need to have everything ready so you can make your best case to the insurance company.
If you don't have health insurance, part of your settlement will go to pay your medical expenses.
We help people with serious injuries every day in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to order one of our free consumer guides, books or reports and tell us your story to see if we can help you and your family.
My sister was hurt in a serious car accident. What type of damages or compensation are available?
Compensation for Injuries After a Car Accident in the DMV
Compensation should cover medical treatment, lost wages, bodily injury at the least.
Damages or compensation for your sister's injuries depends on the harms she suffered. Basically, she can be compensated for what she has lost - medical expenses caused by the negligent driver, lost income and time off of work (lost wages), medical devices and medical durable goods (like a wheelchair) her injuries require. She may also be compensated for the pain, distress, permanent injury, and disfigurement the accident caused.
The amount of compensation or damages depends on the extent of the injuries. Severe injuries often require extensive medical treatment and costs, future medical care and treatment and result in significant lost income. If that is the case, the compensation required to make up for these harms, caused by the negligent driver, can be substantial.
There is a lot to factor in - and you need to investigate the other driver's insurance information or other sources of insurance to make sure there is enough coverage to pay for the serious injuries - surgery, hospitalizations and rehab costs add up in a hurry, especially if you can't work because of your injuries.
Do you have questions about what you can recover after being in a serious auto accident? Don't wait to give us a call at 202-393-3320. You will speak to a real person today who wants to hear your story. And there's no cost or obligation to you - it's completely confidential, no obligation and of course, absolutely no pressure.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER THIS FREE GUIDE TODAY
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.
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