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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How Can I Get My Insurance Adjuster To Cooperate?
If you're on workers compensation, you have probably already figured out it's not a fair fight.
Your workers comp adjuster has handled hundreds, if not thousands, of workers compensation claims in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Her job is to limit the amount the insurance company pays - for medical treatment, testing, medications, therapy, benefits - you name it, she will try to reduce it.
Remember, the adjuster works for the insurance company - not you and your family. In fact, your employer may have very little say in the matter of how you're treated, and often can't help you (other times they're upset because you got hurt on their job and may not even care).
Plus, these insurance adjusters handle hundreds of cases at a time - they don't have time for you. They don't want to be bothered and you may notice that days and weeks have gone by while you are waiting to hear back from them on important issues like your paycheck and medical treatment authorizations. You might even be waiting to hear back on authorization for surgery - and your condition is getting worse while you wait for them.
And unless you have the experience and knowledge to deal with them, plus the time to devote to calling, writing, and faxing everything to get things done, it's never going to be fair.
With a minor injury that may not matter, but if you need significant medical treatment and will be out of work for an extended period of time because of your injury, you don't want to rely on the adjuster to do right by you. You will definitely need an attorney to advocate for your and your family.
Call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to discuss your options and we'll send you one of our free books, guides and reports that will give you the information you need now to take care of yourself and your family.
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.
Is workers compensation keeping you up at night?
It's a lot to learn and deal with when you get hurt at work. Let's face it, the workers compensation system is complicated and stacked against injured workers in favor of insurance companies and large corporations. There are rules for everything - how and when you file a claim (despite what you've heard, the insurance company doesn't file it for you), when you can see a doctor, whether you have to sign insurance company forms, how much you will get paid...
There is no way to know it all - at least not well enough to protect yourself and your family from financial and medical ruin if you end up making a mistake.
That's why we've written the second edition of Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers Compensation - so you don't have to worry.
Get a good night sleep tonight and every night by calling us at (202) 393-3320.
A union worker asks: what if my doctor has me on light duty but my job doesn't have light duty?
First, get The Union Worker's Guide to Workers Comp to learn how to avoid costing your family hundreds of dollars per week.
Most union contractors don't have light duty jobs. Its heavy duty work like you were doing before the injury or its nothing. But many doctors tell their patients they can go back to light duty, even if there is no light duty work available.
In that case, the insurance company has to pay your full benefits because you cannot return to the job you were doing before you got hurt and the contractor is not offering light duty. Sometimes a contractor will make up a job, like sitting in the trailer or at the job site entrance making sure everyone who comes in has a hard hat and safety goggles - if that's the case, they will pay your hourly rate instead of workers comp benefits.
But if you are making less per week on the light duty job (because you're not doing overtime, for example) you should get workers comp benefits based on the difference.
I Hurt My Shoulder at Work and My Doctor Thinks It's a Torn Rotator Cuff. What Do I Do?
A torn rotator cuff (tears of the the tendons in one or more of the major muscles of the shoulder) is a painful, often disabling injury. Many times it requires surgery, especially if an MRI confirms a tear and physical therapy or injections haven't helped.
How do you protect yourself if this serious injury happens at work?
First, tell your employer it happened on the job. We call this giving notice, and it should be done as soon as possible after the injury.
Next, get to a specialist. This is not an injury that can be managed or treated by a family physician and maybe not even by a general orthopedic surgeon.
Third, be wary of doctors referred by the insurance company. The insurance company will be watching their bottom line, not advocating for your care. If the insurance company referred you a doctor ask yourself: is he going to order expensive tests, like an MRI, that the insurance company will have to pay for? Is he going to believe you when you say how much it hurts? Is he thorough and does he seem objective? You should not let the insurance companies' doctor manage your treatment.
Finally, file your workers' compensation claim in the right jurisdiction.
These are the things you should do, but remember, there is a lot more to it. Making a mistake can cost you a lot of money in lost wages and a lot of time and treatment when it comes to your injury. In most cases, you should not go it alone. You may need an advocate to fight for your rights.
Before you make any serious and difficult decisions, read the free book offered by our offices and written just for workers hurt on the job in the D.C. area: Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers Compensation.
It's free to injured workers and their families in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. So order your free copy today - call us at 202-393-3320.
What if your company does not have light duty and cannot create light duty work?
The answer is simple. They have to pay your full workers compensation benefits, also called temporary total disability, or TTD. It's just as if your doctor said you could not do any work because of the injury. Unless and until they provide light duty work, you should be on full workers compensation benefits. If your employer does happen to have light duty, but the normal pay rate for the position you're doing on light duty is less than what you make on full duty, then the workers compensation insurance company still need to make up 2/3 of the difference. The point is that while you are unable to do your regular job, you should still be making 2/3 of your salary/hourly rate (tax free) for as long as you can't do your regular job.
At some point, you may be asked to start vocational rehabilitation or work hardening, or both. But that doesn't usually happen until you are down the line long enough to gauge whether or not you have a permanent injury e.g. whether or not you'll be able to go back to work regular duty.
There are lots of questions that come up in the workers compensation process - don't try to go it alone. Give us a call - we are happy to help you and give you lots of free materials that will equip you for the road ahead.
Give us a call today at 202-393-3320 and order one of our free consumer guides today.
How Do I Know If a Work Hardening Program is the Next Right Step for My Case?
Work hardening is a little like physical therapy. The idea is to simulate work activity to see if you can do it and transition back to work.
That sounds great but in practice, some work hardening facilities don't know your real job duties (they just get a job classification from a generic list), and some think they are assessing psychological factors like "pain or illness behavior" or "symptom magnification".
These are insurance buzz words for "you are faking or malingering" - and the people making these "findings" are only physical therapists - they can help you stretch, use proper body mechanics and give tips on overcoming soreness but they're not doctors.
The key is to always be on guard - these facilities get almost all of their patients from workers comp insurance companies and sometimes "evidence" that someone is somehow not giving full effort (according to a physical therapist) is more valuable to them than getting you back to work.
We do have a fantastic physical and occupational therapy group that we work with that gets referrals from attorneys, insurance companies, family members - everywhere! So you don't have worry that they are biased, or that they won't do a great job with you. Give us a call today and we would be happy to share that information with you. 202-393-3320.
Can you get workers comp in DC if you were exposed to coronavirus at work?
Healthcare workers who are coming into contact with Coronavirus at work should definitely get the best information they can on workers compensation. If you caught the Coronavirus as a result of being exposed while on duty, you could be off of work, need medical care and you will need to file for benefits.
If you're like most healthcare workers, you never planned for an injury or illness caused by helping patients. We see this a lot, a nurse or other healthcare worker, who injures her back lifting and turning a patient, a torn rotator cuff from restraining a patient suffering from addiction, a concussion caused by a violent psychiatric patient.
And now, Covid-19.
Don't wait too long to get started on your claim. Contact us at 202-393-3320.
If you have had exposure at work, you still need to prove that the illness was caused by work, but for healthcare workers, there should be enough of a link for you to go ahead and file for workers compensation. And obviously, if you've been exposed at work get tested now so you can take care of yourself and your family if you are sick, quarantined, or both.
If you call us today we will send you what you need from our DC Workers' Compensation Library - You will get our signature book, along with the DC forms you need to file your claim (we can email these to you - the book is a real book so has to be mailed).
You can use these forms to file with the DC Office of Workers Compensation to get your claim started, but don't do it without speaking to us first. There are certain mistakes that you can make when filing for workers' compensation that we want to help you avoid.
We are available to take calls and answer questions about work injuries in DC, MD and Virginia, so if you need anything, please reach out to us - we're here for you.
How does workers compensation affect social security disability benefits?
With a serious work injury that prevents you from working for more than 1 year, you may be eligible for both workers compensation benefits and social security disability. Workers who have a permanent injury that will prevent them from working for many years are often awarded social security disability as well.
In order to receive workers compensation benefits, you have to prove your work injury prevents you from working. Social security looks at the whole person - all of the person's medical conditions or injuries.
There is an offset, however. That means that social security benefits will be reduced to take into account the workers compensation benefits you are getting after an on the job injury. Currently, the Social Security Administration uses a formula to determine the offset, or reduction, in the amount they pay. Click on this Fact Sheet for the specifics.
It's important to know that the workers comp benefits are not reduced. Also, once the workers compensation case settles, you have the ability to reduce the amount of the social security offset, so your social security benefits should go up.
Also, a lot of our clients tell us they applied for social security, got denied and had to appeal. It seems most people are awarded social security after an appeal and hearing.
If you're trying to figure this out - its complicated - call us and see if we can answer your questions. We handle every kind of workers compensation issue for private sector workers (people who don't work for the federal or D.C. government).
Contact us today at 202-393-3320
I’m on workers’ comp: can the insurance company just stop my benefits?
Unfortunately, yes. In Washington DC, the insurance adjuster can (and often does) stop your benefits for no reason.
In D.C. workers compensation, insurance companies can stop your benefits for any reason - or no reason at all. All they have to do is file a notice of controversion, a simple forming stating a reason.
What are some of the reasons for an insurance company to stop your benefits?
They can have you examined by one of their doctors (an IME - insurance medical exam), say they are still investigating the claim, or that they don't have evidence of any current disability, or you didn't "cooperate" with a vocational counselor. They could also claim you're not cooperating by giving them all of the medical records they ask for (basically they want all the records from the day you were born). They can even make up a reason.
Then its up to you to win your case and get the benefits reinstated - but that could take many, many months by the time you go to a hearing and an Administrative Law Judge issues a decision.
That's why we take steps so our clients don't benefits cut off in the first place and act immediately when they do. We cover a lot of this in the book Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers Compensation or you can call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and speak to a live person who will help you and can tell you what we do in this situation.