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 an FCE? The workers comp adjuster scheduled a functional capacity evaluation for me.

     

    After an injury in D.C. when I was hurt on the job, the workers comp adjuster scheduled an 

    FCE or functional capacity evaluation.

    What is an FCE?

    After an on the job injury in D.C., many times the workers compensation insurance adjuster or nurse case manager will schedule the injured worker for a functional capacity evaluation, or FCE.

    This is basically a test used to clarify the injured worker's limitations or work restrictions.  Sometimes a treating physician or IME doctor (insurance company doctor) will recommend it.

    Usually the test lasts for several hours and consists of lifting, moving, walking up stairs - somewhat like work hardening or certain types of physical therapy.  It is usually done under the direction of a physical therapist.

    An unbiased physical therapist will accurately record how much or how often the injured worker can lift, carry, or climb stairs or ladders.  As with all things involving workers compensation insurance companies, you have to be careful. 

    There are certain companies conduction FCEs that market themselves to insurance companies and get all of their business from them.  They are more likely to have physical therapists try to say that the injured worker has "pain behaviors" or "symptom magnification" and attempt to document this on their official-looking forms.

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

    Have you been scheduled for a Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) or Independent Medical Exam (IME) and don't know what to expect? 

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

     

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

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

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

    They'll tell you it’s free. So is all of your medical treatment under DC workers compensation.

    FORGET IT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Can Nats' players get workers comp for their baseball injuries?

    After the World Series victory, the Washington Nationals and their fans, are still celebrating.  What a great run.

    But what happens to players, pro athletes in any sport in DC, who play professionally and get hurt?  It's easy to forget that so many players toil for years, paying their dues in the minor leagues, working their way up, the sacrifices they have made for years (and some never get a shot).  Many pro athletes don't have long term guaranteed contracts.

    And pro careers are short to begin with.  So what does a pro player do when an injury cuts his career short, or severely limits it?

    That's where we come in.  You see, professional athletes in D.C. (in all sports) are entitled to workers comp benefits, just like every other person who works in DC.  Our practice focuses on people who are seriously hurt when their wage earning potential is at its highest point.  We work hard to educate workers who may not know they can get workers comp benefits - how could they?  Pro players, and other people at the top of their field, are too busy to even consider this. 

    We find a lot of players don't know that they can get benefits for permanent injuries even after they retire.  

    We're not agents - we only focus on maximizing your injury case - but we will work with your agent, keeping both you and him informed.  And we have the only lawyer who literally wrote the book on D.C. workers compensation. 

    If you're a pro athlete hurt playing for a team in D.C., call us at (202) 393 - 3320 for a confidential, no charge, no obligation assessment of your specific injury.

     

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

    Question:

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

     

    Answer:

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

    Unfortunately, not many lawyers know that.

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

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

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


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

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

  • What if My Company Doesn't Have Light Duty Work for Me?

    What is light duty when you're on workers' comp in DC, Maryland or Virginia?

    Before going back to work, the doctor can put you on light duty. Basically, he gives you restrictions that say you can do some activities, but not everything your job requires. Usually your doctor will say you can't lift over 20 pounds after a back injury, or no overhead work after a torn rotator cuff surgery, or no climbing ladders after a knee surgery.  If you have any type of restriction from your work injury that prevents you from doing your regular job, and your company offers you work within those restrictions, that's light duty.

    Did you know that sometimes light duty can actually help you recover more quickly, and get you back to work in shorter time? See how light duty can help you here

    But, what if your employer doesn't have light duty?

    What should you do? Remember, light duty means that you're at work performing some duties (not the full duties of your job) and you are being paid accordingly. Also, remember, if you are earning less money than you were at the time you got hurt (and that's per week, not just your hourly rate) you should be getting workers comp checks to make up the difference while you're on light duty.

    The simple way to calculate it is this: If you are getting paid the same per week (with overtime and bonuses calculated for your weekly wage) you will get a paycheck from your company again and you won't get any further workers' comp benefit. 

    Here's how it works:  if you're making less money on light duty because you are working less hours or can't do overtime like you used to, your workers comp benefits would be 2/3 of the difference between your wages at the time you got hurt and the new light duty job.  These benefits are called Temporary Partial Disability benefits.

    Light duty doesn't stop you from getting your disability benefits, but if you're offered light work duty work within your restrictions and you turn it down, the workers comp insurance company can stop or reduce your benefits. (And you should bet they will).

    Here's the best part - where a lot of people get mixed up: IF your company doesn't offer light duty work, they have to continue to pay your full workers compensation rate.

    Many construction companies do not have light duty in the trade.  So, even though a doctor may say you can return to some work with restrictions, until you are cleared to return to full duty, your workers' comp benefits should continue at the full rate.  So it is really important to get a note or disability slip from your doctor indicating any restrictions or limitations you have because of the work injury.

    Workers' comp check coming late?

    Click here to see what to do. We know that just because the workers' compensation check is late, it doesn't mean that you can pay your bills late, so here's the answer to another common question involving workers comp benefits and light duty. 

    You're probably under a lot of stress due to the uncertainty - most people are - because how can you know what or how much you should be getting, or how to get the best medical care for your injuries, or what type of benefits you can get in the future?

    Don't worry - we help you with all that.

    Still not sure?  It's a complicated and confusing system that favors insurance companies.  Remember, the insurance company has a team of specialized adjusters, lawyers, doctors, nurses, case managers - all working against you (that's their job, and they're good at it) from the moment you get hurt.

    So just call us at 202-393-3320 and you will speak with a real person who wants to hear your story. We make time to answer questions about work injuries in D.C., Maryland and Virginia every week and we'd love to hear from you.   

  • What's Different About Getting Medical Treatment on Workers' Comp?

     

    Here are some basics about getting medical treatment after a work injury.

    If you were injured at work and are receiving benefits, you may be getting treatment for the first time and feel confused about all of the differences between just getting medical care and getting medical care when you're on workers comp.

    First of all, your treatment requires authorizations and all of your providers (there may be one or several) will need to have the authorizations to treat you in their records. They have to carry the authorizations so they have the authority to bill workers' 'comp. When scheduling your treatment, you may need to be prepared for extra administrative measures, evaluations, and paperwork that you might not have to deal with when using your regular insurance. Give yourself a little extra time before your first appointment with a new provider to make space for these types of tasks. And call ahead of time to make sure that the office has indeed received the authorizations from your workers' comp adjuster.

    Second, when you are seeing your treating physician (not your physical therapist or occupational therapist) you will need to get a disability note from him or her whenever you see them. This disability note, which says whether or not you can return to work (or return to work with restrictions) will be the piece of paper that triggers whether or not you keep receiving financial benefits while you are out of work.

    Look at your slip before you leave the office and make sure it says what the doctor said to you. Doctor's offices sometimes make clerical errors so you want to make sure that the paperwork matches what you discussed with your doctor. And don't leave the office without it in your hand!

    You also need to make sure that you have received all of your referrals from your treating physician to see other doctors related to your treatment. Typically the doctor will give you an order that states that type of treatment he would like you to seek - like physical therapy, and MRI, or a referral to a specialist..

    The referrals have to match the type of treatment exactly. For example, if the referral says "physical therapy" and you want to get "aqua therapy," you will have to get an order specifically for aqua therapy.

    Third, you need to make sure you have all of your office visit notes from your treating physician, and reports from any surgeries and special treatment. We recommend that you keep a copy of all of your own records, but for our clients we order and keep track of all of the records associated with their treatment and we seek authorizations on their behalf.

    These records, especially from your treating physician, are the trail of paperwork that we use to show continuity of care and continuation of treatment, so you will also want to make sure that your visit notes reflect everything that you talked about with your doctor. Sometimes doctors offices inadvertently leave in visit notes things that don't correspond with the doctor's orders, such as "claimant can go back to work," when the doctor actually put you out of work for another month. These mistakes are not fatal, you just need to call the doctor and ask them to correct the visit notes. Sometimes your adjuster will want to see your visit reports, so you want to make sure they are accurate.

    If you have a new workers' comp claim and are just getting started, you will absolutely need to order our free book "Protect Your Rights - the Ultimate Guide to DC Workers' Compensation." This book, written by premier workers' comp attorney Frank R. Kearney, gives you insight into what you need to know about DC workers' comp. And if you have further questions don't hesitate to give us a call at 202-393-3320. You will speak with a real person today who can get you started.

     

     

  • How much is my workers’ compensation case worth?

    Determining How Much Your Workers Comp Case is Worth

    If you have been injured at work and are going through the process of filing a claim, you have taken the first step in advocating for yourself and making sure that you get the compensation and medical treatment you need. However, as you will soon find out, this can be a lengthy, time consuming and stressful process.

     

    If you hope to settle your claim, meaning that your weekly payment schedule would stop and you would instead agree on a lump-sum or regular schedule of compensation with the workers comp insurance company, a lawyer can be particularly useful - in fact, with any serious injury, it would be crazy to try to settle the case yourself. 

     

    First off, knowing how much your weekly compensation should be is fairly straightforward – it is two-thirds of your average weekly wage over the past 26 weeks for workers in Washington, D.C. - and it includes all of your work during that time, including a second or third job. However, knowing how much to settle your workers comp claim for is a different story. 

     

    Your settlement can depend on whether you have incurred a permanent injury that stops you from working entirely in the future or a partial permanent injury that required surgery or will permanently prevent you from functioning in the same way you did before the injury. There are a lot of other factors to consider as well - how much you were earning before the injury, how much you can earn after the injury (if you can work at all) and how you can prove that, plus your age, education level, background, training, skills, medications you need to take (and their effect on you), medical treatment you need - all of these factors and more need to be analyzed.

     

    Any settlement should be the best thing for you - and that will vary depending on what you want and need - we spend a lot of time with you getting this right because every person is different and this is not one size fits all.

     

    Settlements are helpful in that they give you a guaranteed monetary award as compensation for your injury and they let you move on with your life - you know it's going to be OK and you don't have the stress and anxiety of the case hanging over you. Of course, if you wish to proceed with litigation, the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer is also essential, but it can be harder to predict what the outcome will be - settlement gives you control. In litigation, the result is up to a judge, and out of your control. 

    https://www.donahoekearney.com/reports/

     

    Laws in different states regarding workers’ compensation vary quite a bit, so it is important to hire a lawyer who is an expert in your area. We deal with countless cases involving workers’ compensation in D.C. and can help you get the compensation you deserve, and help you determine whether its best to settle or not. Though it is hard to quantify what your settlement might look like in the beginning of your case, we work hard with you to set the case up, right from the start, to maximize the benefits or settlement you'll ultimately get.

     

    If you believe you have a case or have questions about workers’ compensation cases in D.C., call us at 202-393-3320. There’s no obligation associated with calling, and we are happy to send you our signature workers compensation book, the only one of its kind, written by a nationally Board Certified trial lawyer, at absolutely no cost to you.

     

  • Are you automatically going to get workers' comp benefits after you've been hurt at work?

     

    We deal with a lot of different workers when handling workers' compensation cases. A number of the workers we work with are construction workers, but many others are nurses, mechanics, office workers, drivers, installers, pro athletes - you name it.   And many of our clients ask us whether you automatically get workers comp benefits after you've been hurt at work.

    The answer is no. 

    You probably should, but you may not.

    So here's the basic definition covering workers compensation in D.C.

    An injured worker must be an employee as defined by the D.C Workers' Compensation Act and prove an employer-- employee relationship existed at the time of injury. There are two basic tests for whether an employer-employee relationship exist. The "right to control" test analyze whether the employer has the right to hire and fire the employee, to tell him or her what to do and where and how to do it (controlling the work),as well as how the employee is paid, for example whether the employee is paid salary, hourly, or by the job, and whether taxes are withheld. The "relative nature of the work" just means that the work performed is part of the overall business of the employer.

    And the injury must happen in the course and scope of the employment.

    That is, there must be a connection between the injury and the work performed. Whether the injury is on a construction site, sitting at a desk or while installing cabinets in a doctor's office. Generally, an employee is considered to be in the course and scope of his employment if he is "on the clock" during work hours, performing work for his employer or at the place of employment when he gets hurt. 

    Remember, in the District of Columbia, an aggravation of a prior condition is considered a compensable work injury. For example, a worker with a bad back that has been asymptomatic may pick up a piece of equipment and "aggravate" that underlying condition-- causing symptoms that keep him out of work. 

    Injuries can occur anytime and anywhere while the employee is at work. A person typing at a desk can develop carpal tunnel and may not be able to do their job properly-- if that is what their job mainly consists of. As long as the injury happens while the employee is "on the clock", they may be eligible for workers' compensation.

    In over 20 years of handling work injury cases (at first for insurance companies) I've seen the law and system get more complicated - more rules, more traps, more litigation - even experienced trial lawyers often won't represent legitimately injured workers because they don't know the system. And the insurance company lawyers you'll be up against have defended hundreds or thousands of cases like yours (I should know).

    Don't make a mistake with your workers comp case - a mistake that could cost you and your family thousands or tens of thousands (or even more) in benefits and medical treatment.

    Order one of our free guides - you can download 5 Mistakes That Will Absolutely Kill Your Workers Compensation Case right now to get you started and then call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to see if we can help at least make sure you are on the right track.

  • I'm a union worker who got hurt at work. Now we're on strike. Can I get workers comp benefits if the union is on strike?

    In DC if you were hurt on the job and now the union is on strike, you can get workers comp benefits.

    Here's how it works.  If you are a union worker and were hurt working in D.C. you should be getting workers comp benefits (monetary and medical treatment) every week while you can't go back to work because of your injuries.  If you are getting temporary total disability benefits because your doctor says you can't do any work at all then it really doesn't matter that the union is on strike and there is no work available.

    This would be the same if your doctor released you to light duty but there was no light duty in the trade (this is pretty common).  If your employer can't provide light duty work within your restrictions, then you should be getting your full benefits.

    But what if you were working light duty and the union went on strike?

    Wouldn't your employer say we were providing work within your doctor's restrictions but it's not our fault the union went on strike? Of course they would, but I don't think it matters.

    Light duty work wouldn't be available for you under that circumstance, so your benefits should continue or be re-started.  There hasn't been a case directly addressing this and it may take some convincing to get the employer and workers comp insurance company to get your benefits going again.

    The best argument probably comes from a case that involved an average weekly wage calculation - remember, in D.C., your workers comp benefits are based on the average of all the income (including overtime, differential, bonuses, etc.) you earned during the 26 weeks before the injury.  A union worker didn't work for several weeks before he got hurt because his union was on strike, so he had $0 income for those weeks.  When he got hurt after returning to work (the strike had ended) the insurance company tried to calculate his average weekly wage by using $0 for those weeks, bringing the average way down (and drastically reducing the amount of his benefits).

    The Court said no - you don't count those weeks in the average because you can't make a union worker cross the picket line - it's not fair to penalize the worker for a strike. 

    A back injury at work, a torn rotator cuff, a knee injury - whatever the type of injury, if it happened at work, find out about everything that's available for you and your family.  Workers comp is a complicated system, and if there is money involved, the insurance company is going to fight you for it, simple as that.

    Questions about your injury and workers comp benefits? Call us at 202-393-3320 to order one of our free, no obligation books or guides that can help you and your family.

  • I'm a union worker who got hurt at work. Now we're on strike. Can I get workers comp benefits if the union is on strike?

    In DC if you were hurt on the job and now the union is on strike, you can get workers comp benefits.

    Here's how it works.  If you are a union worker and were hurt working in D.C. you should be getting workers comp benefits (monetary and medical treatment) every week while you can't go back to work because of your injuries.  If you are getting temporary total disability benefits because your doctor says you can't do any work at all then it really doesn't matter that the union is on strike and there is no work available.

    This would be the same if your doctor released you to light duty but there was no light duty in the trade (this is pretty common).  If your employer can't provide light duty work within your restrictions, then you should be getting your full benefits.

    But what if you were working light duty and the union went on strike?

    Wouldn't your employer say we were providing work within your doctor's restrictions but it's not our fault the union went on strike? Of course they would, but I don't think it matters.

    Light duty work wouldn't be available for you under that circumstance, so your benefits should continue or be re-started.  There hasn't been a case directly addressing this and it may take some convincing to get the employer and workers comp insurance company to get your benefits going again.

    The best argument probably comes from a case that involved an average weekly wage calculation - remember, in D.C., your workers comp benefits are based on the average of all the income (including overtime, differential, bonuses, etc.) you earned during the 26 weeks before the injury.  A union worker didn't work for several weeks before he got hurt because his union was on strike, so he had $0 income for those weeks.  When he got hurt after returning to work (the strike had ended) the insurance company tried to calculate his average weekly wage by using $0 for those weeks, bringing the average way down (and drastically reducing the amount of his benefits).

    The Court said no - you don't count those weeks in the average because you can't make a union worker cross the picket line - it's not fair to penalize the worker for a strike. 

    A back injury at work, a torn rotator cuff, a knee injury - whatever the type of injury, if it happened at work, find out about everything that's available for you and your family.  Workers comp is a complicated system, and if there is money involved, the insurance company is going to fight you for it, simple as that.

    Questions about your injury and workers comp benefits? Call us at 202-393-3320 to order one of our free, no obligation books or guides that can help you and your family.