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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What is my medical malpractice case worth in DC?
There are a lot of factors that determine the settlement value of a medical malpractice case in the District, Maryland or Virginia.
There is no formula or grid, or law or book that tells you how much your medical malpractice case is worth in DC, Maryland or Virginia and there is a lot that goes into the analysis. Our approach (and we've been successfully suing hospitals, HMOs and doctors for medical malpractice in the DC area for more than 20 years) can vary a little depending on whether the injured patient is an adult or child, or if there was a death involved, but basically, here's how we do it.
First, look at the harms the medical mistake caused.
We do this from the very beginning and it helps us determine whether we accept the case. We just don't take cases where someone doesn't need our help because the injury is not permanent, or where the costs of the litigation would outweigh the potential recovery to someone.
So we look at your needs - what has changed in your life because of the medical negligence? Do you need around the clock nursing care because you physically cannot care for yourself anymore? Do you need a handicap accessible home, or do you need to modify your house to make it accessible? Do you need transportation if you can no longer drive? What if you never work again - you need to replace that lost income.
How about future medical treatment - therapy, diagnostic tests like MRIs, medications, surgeries - how much will you need and how much will it cost?
Aside from the cost of everything you now need to replace, pay for, or hire people to do, what about the effect this has had on you?
Are you isolated, unable to get out, in pain all the time?
Next, how strong is your medical malpractice case?
There is no such thing as a "slam dunk" in the law. Some cases may be easier to explain than others, but many involve complex medical issues that require expert physicians to explain what should have been done differently and why.
Can this be explained to people - and does it make sense. Common sense, even with complicated issues, is always the key. Many cases involve relatively simple mistakes with no system for preventing them - like a doctor forgets to call in a test result, or a hospitalist doesn't follow up on a recommendation, or a nurse doesn't check a medication order. All of these are simple mistakes that need a system to catch them - to double check, to provide a reminder, to make sure they don't hurt the patient.
Where is your medical malpractice case filed?
DC, Maryland and Virginia all have different medical malpractice laws - most designed to make it hard for legitimately, seriously injured patients to get fair and reasonable compensation for the harms caused by the healthcare system.
So Maryland and Virginia limit damages, or the amount you can recover in a medical malpractice case. That can obviously affect the settlement value of any case - even a catastrophic, life changing injury or death.
Is your medical malpractice case ready for trial from day one?
You have to show the hospital, HMO, or doctors insurance company that you are ready, willing and able to go to trial. Here are a few tips to get you started, but much of that depends on the lawyers you choose to handle your malpractice case. If they have never handled a case like yours, or don't have the experience, resources, access to experts, familiarity with the court and hospital lawyers, etc....that can be an uphill battle.
So when we accept a case, we put it together before we file it. This means we have had it evaluated by numerous medical experts in different specialties, have prepared you, have assessed the harms and determined what would help make up for them, and have given everything to the hospital or insurance company so they know you're ready to go.
We only handle cases for patients and children who have been seriously injured. If you'd like more information on working with us, or investigating your medical malpractice case, or medical mistakes affecting children, please call us at (202) 393 - 3320.
Is your employer making it hard on you to file for workers comp benefits?
We just talked to an electrician about his employer, a large corporation, making it hard on him to file for workers compensation benefits after an injury at work in D.C.
Here's how they do it. And some of this is driven by their insurance companies.
First, they say "don't worry about it. We'll give you all the time you need to go to the doctor (a doctor the company chooses) and we'll handle the paperwork."
Or they say, "you've had an injury in the past - why don't you just have your health insurance take care of it." Or, "that's not a serious injury, just let it go."
Then they give you a hard time about time off to go to the doctor (to get treatment for an injury they are legally responsible for). They try to push it off on you.
Don't let them. Here's why:
They are creating defenses - manufacturing ways they can deny or delay paying benefits to workers with legitimate work injuries. They want to make their workers uncomfortable about reporting an injury. Why? So they can later deny a legitimate injury because it wasn't reported right away. Or they create an atmosphere where you don't want to go to the doctor or miss time from work - so you don't give your injuries a chance to heal, and they get worse.
What then? They say it can't be that bad because you didn't get much medical treatment...so you must be "milking" it.
Do the right thing for yourself and your family after a work injury. Get the information, expertise and advice you need before the insurance company uses your inexperience against you (remember, they have thousands of cases they have handled and absolutely no duty to you or your family).
So order one of our books and guides on D.C. workers compensation or call us at (202) 393-3320 to see how we can help.
How long does a cerebral palsy case take in D.C.?
Cerebral palsy cases for children in the District usually take about 2 years to get to trial or to settle after filing a lawsuit against the hospital and doctor who was responsible. These cases tend to take longer than car wreck or other injury cases for a number of reasons:
First, you need a number of expert witnesses in different specialties to testify about the harms that were done to the child, the amount of money necessary to properly care for the child with cerebral palsy, the cause and timing of the cerebral palsy, and of course, the things the hospital didn't do or should have done to prevent the harms from happening.
The hospital and doctor's insurance lawyers can take the deposition of each one of these expert physicians, and scheduling and taking the depositions takes time.
A trial involving cerebral palsy often takes two or three weeks, so judges tend to schedule those trials far in advance as well.
The two year estimate for how long a cerebral palsy case takes in D.C. is just from the time the case is filed with the Court. Before that is done, there is a significant amount of time spent investigating and preparing the case and that can take several years, depending on how long ago the child was born and the number of medical experts necessary to prove the case.
What kind of lawyer will you choose for your medical malpractice case?
What's important to you when you're choosing a lawyer for a serious medical malpractice case after a hosptal or doctor provided substandard medical care here in the D.C. area?
Here's what's important to people and families we work with:
- Trust. Let's face it, it's hard to trust people these days. You trusted doctors, nurses or a hospital and they betrayed your trust. Can you trust the claims of T.V. ads when choosing a lawyer? Or do you want something more?
- Experience. Do you want lawyers who know the hospitals, insurance companies and risk managers that may be involved in your case? Do you want lawyers who have handled serious and catastrophic injury cases?
- Communication. Do you want lawyers you can understand, who keep you informed every step of the way and don't use a bunch of jargon or legalese?
- Credentials. Do you want lawyers who are board certified by a national board of trial advocacy and recognized as top lawyers in their field?
- Resources. Do you want lawyers who have worked with top, nationally known medical experts to consult in your case?
The people and families we've worked with over the years develop a trust and comfort level with us, because we make it a point to get to know you and your family (you're not just a case to us). And we have all of the important factors, and then some, that you need to feel good about your choice of lawyers.
We try to make it easy on you - so you can focus on your recovery, your family, and getting your life back.
How do you help someone who experienced medical malpractice?
As lawyers specializing in medical malpractice cases against hospitals, doctors and healthcare corporations, we try to help patients who have been seriously injured in very specific ways.
Here is how we approach a medical malpractice case for you (and it's always about you and your family):
First, we meet with you and your family - it's part of getting to know you - and listen to what happened. We take lots of notes so you don't have to rememeber everything or write everything down.
We analyze your medical records and we go over these with you. Remember, the hospital or doctors probably didn't tell you everything - so we sometimes find things that will surprise you - tests that weren't followed up on, orders that weren't followed through, specialists who never came to see you, that kind of thing.
Next, after organizing and analyzing the medical records, we consult with specialists in the field - whether the case involves obstetrics, neurology, pulmonary, internal medicine, etc. Our goal is to find the best experts in their field to review and analyze what happened and why so we can hold the hospital, doctor or group accountable for what happened.
These are just the first steps we take in working with you. There are many more. It's a complicated (but rewarding) process. But we work hard to take the stress and worry off of you - so you can focus on your recovery, your family, your life.
If you were seriously injured because of medical malpractice and are ready for us to get to work for you, call us today. We'll send you a lot of information you can read in the privacy of your own home and help you through the process.
But don't wait to call. This process takes time, and we need enough time to do it properly (or we won't do it at all).
How do I find the right medical malpractice lawyer in D.C.?
I heard a judge recently telling another lawyer who advertises on T.V. and is in T.V. commercials that the lawyer was a "T.V. star."
It was said as a joke but remember the old saying "the truth is said in jest." Judges, insurance companies, hospitals and jurors know who the T.V. lawyers are, and some of them are skeptical of any case that lawyer has. One senior partner at a law firm that runs a lot of T.V. commercials told me long ago that T.V. ads brought in a lot of small cases but people with serious, life changing injuries usually didn't want a T.V. lawyer.
Why is that?
Probably because, deep down, it's hard for people who will evaluate and analyze your medical malpractice case - insurance company executives, hospital lawyers, judges, jurors, to believe a T.V. lawyer. It may not be fair, but that's the perception some people have.
Personally, I think it's a free country and lawyers can run as many T.V. commercials as they want. But I can see the concern many people have. I'd feel the same way.
Because if you or someone in your family has a permanent injury or condition, like paralysis, cerebral palsy, brain injury, even death, caused by the medical system, why would you take a chance with your medical malpractice case? Proving a hospital, doctor or healthcare provider was negligent may be your only opportunity to take care of your family and provide the support, medical care and income they need, now that you or someone else in the family can no longer do it. And even if you can do it all right now, you can't do it forever - what happens if you get sick, or hurt, or lose a job. Then what?
Choosing the right lawyer may take time. We recommend you read everything you can about the lawyer and interview him or her (feel free to download our checklist of what to ask any lawyer you meet with).
Most of all, will the lawyer help you and your family? Can he answer your questions and give you advice you can trust? Does he make you feel comfortable and at ease when you talk to him?
And will he take care of your worries and your stress - about providing the medical care someone in your family needs for the rest of his life, or replacing income that would have sent your kids to college, or getting nursing care, transportation or modifications to your house that Medicare and health insurance won't cover?
So read our short reports and guides to start. And call us to talk about your specific situation and how we can help take care of it for you.
How can I get information on medical malpractice in D.C.?
Medical malpractice - when a doctor, hospital or HMO violates a patient safety rule and injures a patient - can take many forms and be caused by many types of medical mistakes or errors.
There are certainly common patient safety rules that we see violated in our medical malpractice cases. But if you are looking for information on what a medical malpractice case is, how these cases are investigated, how you determine whether a doctor violated the standard of care (basically a patient safety rule) to help you and your family after a serious injury or medical condition, we have a number of guides, books and reports that can help.
Based on our experieince helping patients affected by medical malpractice for over 20 years, we've published resources you can read in the privacy of your own home to give you information you can use to make the best decisions for your family. Here are a few of the resources we offer to people who have been affected by the medical system:
Have a child with special needs? Order a copy of Getting Everything Your Special Needs Child Deserves: A Parent's Guide to Resources for help finding resources for special needs kids in the D.C. area.
If your son or daughter was affected by medical malpractice, read our short guide Picking Up the Pieces: A Parent's Guide to Medical Malpractice for practical tips, advice and explanations.
And for a report you can download right now to help you recognize and prevent medical errors before they happen, go to 7 Symptoms of Medical Malpractice.
Already looking for a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice cases in D.C.?
Don't hire a lawyer or sign anything without using our guide to interview and evaluate any lawyer (hint: we're not all equal) before you make that important decision. TV commercials, Yellow Page Ads, internet ads, they can all attract customers in any business, but this is different. You're not buying a mattress. Take action and learn how to find the best lawyer for you and your family.
Of course every person affected by medical mistakes is different and unique. That's why we set aside time every month to talk to people just like you, who are living with the stress and worry of dealing with a serious medical injury that could have been prevented. So if you want to talk specifically about your situation, call us at (202) 393 - 3320.
The reports are free, written in English (no legalese) and very helpful. The call is also completely confidential, of course.
I'm so scared and confused -- my baby has a birth injury. What should I do?
What is a birth injury?
Birth injuries in a D.C. hospital can refer to a number of specific injuries, conditions, or diagnoses a baby receives. Sometimes the term "birth injury" refers to a lack of oxygen (perinatal asphyxia) during delivery. Sometimes it means a delay in delivering the baby that causes Cerebral Palsy or other permanent damages and disability to the child. Sometimes the term will refer to a delayed delivery that caused shoulder dystocia, or a baby born with infection.
No matter what the specifics of the injury or condition related to the child's birth, there are certain steps to take immediately.
1) Get a complete copy of all of the medical and hospital records. Records for the obstetrician and records for the hospital may be separate, depending on the hospital;
2) Get a complete copy of all films, images (like sonograms, MRIs and CT scans) your baby had. Remember to get the acual images, not just the reports; and
3) Get your child the best medical care, treatment, and therapy you can find (we published a resource guide for parents in D.C., Maryland and Virginia who have children with special needs. Order it for free today -- it will help).
4) Then talk to us about investigating the cause of your child's condition or disability. The medical investigation we do is thorough and time consuming - we want to make sure you have all of the information you need to help your child.
We will review your records for free; no cost and no obligation.
We also know, from over 20 years experience, that the sooner we get started, the sooner we can help you and your child.
So call us today and we can send you your free copy of Getting Everything Your Special Needs Child Deserves: A Parent's Guide to Resources.
We have also published a book called Picking Up the Pieces After Medical Malpractice: A Parent's Guide. Both of these resources are free and indispensable to a parent of a child with special needs.
Both should help get you started. We also set aside time every week to answer questions and give information over the phone. If a confidential, no obligation stragegy session would help you, please call us at 202-393-3320 to schedule it. There is no charge for the initial strategy session.
How can a settlement of your medical malpractice case make your life easier?
The goal of any medical malpractice case is to help the patient.
We think of our malpractice cases in D.C., Maryland or Virginia in very practical terms, always asking ourselves how this case will help this person or this family and we evaluate the case that way from day one.
How can a settlement help?
By providing around the clock nursing care that Medicaid won't cover, money for wheelchair accessible vans so you can be as independent and mobile as possible, money for home modifications to live comfortably and be able to move freely and safely through your own home, monthly income so you don't have to worry about paying the bills because you can no longer work.
We use a case to try to relieve your stress and solve your problems and take care of your worries.
I know you help children affected by medical mistakes at D.C. hospitals. Do you also help adult patients in medical malpractice cases?
Not only do we represent children with paralysis, cerebral palsy and other serious medical conditions caused by preventable medical mistakes in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, we also represent adult patients affected by medical malpractice and families of patients who have died because of medical mistakes.
Some of the medical issues in our cases have involved Emergency Room care, pulmonary embolism, failure to diagnose cancer, cardiac care, and anesthesia errors. The catastrophic injuries - paralysis, loss of a limb, damage to the brain causing a loss of the ability to move, speak and eat, as well as death - are often caused by a series of medical mistakes.
Medical malpractice can be caused by doctors not communicating with each other, not telling the patient about a diagnosis, not reviewing test results, discharging the patient without an examination, not bringing in a consultant or specialist, and many other reasons.
Sadly, in a hospital or HMO setting, malpractice is often part of a systems error - where the hospital or HMO doesn't have any safeguards or procedures to catch and prevent medical mistakes. In many cases, we see that mistakes get repeated or several mistakes contribute to the injury or death.
For more information on medical malpractice in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, order one of the free guides or reports we've published or call us at (202) 393-3320. We set aside time every week to talk to people, for free, and in confidence to try to give them information.
But don't wait to call - these cases require investigation and there are time limits and procedural requirements you must follow for any case against a hospital, HMO or doctor involving malpractice.