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 Are the Five Myths to Bust with My Workers' Comp Claim?
You have a new workers' compensation claim, and already you may be feeling overwhelmed at the number of things that you need to keep straight. You have to organize your correspondence from the Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC). You have to organize your correspondence from the workers comp insurance company. You have to organize your medical records. Before you know it you have a lot of paperwork and you're not even sure what it all means.
And then, something happens. The employer files a Notice of Controversion and tells you that they no longer intend on paying your benefits. They don't really give you much of a reason: maybe something like contesting the extent of your injuries or something similar. Maybe it is in legalese and you don't get it at all.
You are frustrated, confused, and feeling fearful that you won't be able to pay your regular bills, let alone your medical treatment bills. But, you don't want to try and call an attorney because you think that you cannot afford one; or you think that you can handle this on your own.
There are 5 common myths to debunk in a workers' compensation claim. Myth Number 1: you fear that you cannot afford an attorney. The truth is that you can. At Donahoe Kearney, we don't get paid unless you get a settlement. Our payment comes at the end of your case: which means that we will be working without getting paid for as long as it takes to settle your case. And we work hard to get you a substantial settlement.
Myth Number 2: I can do this one my own. Some cases can be done all on your own. We actually have a "Do It Yourself" kit that we send to people who have small cases with no real issues (their injury is minor and they are back to work after a week or two). But for the most part you will need an attorney in order to navigate your case properly. Workers' compensation law is complicated and can be arcane. The system often makes it easier to limit the financial exposure of an insurance company and that means paying un-represented workers less in benefits and medical treatment.
Myth Number 3: My adjuster and/or nurse case manager is on my side. The truth is that the insurance adjuster and the nurse case manager both work for the insurance company. The priority of the insurance company is to limit their financial loss; which means that no matter how nice your adjuster may be he/she will still be looking for ways to pay you less and limit your medical treatment: that is their job. And remember, they have an army of doctors, nurse case managers, supervisors, and lawyers working against you from the moment you get hurt.
Myth Number 4: My insurance adjuster chooses my treating physician. Nope, not in Washington, D.C. No matter what they tell you, you get to choose your own treating physician.
Myth Number 5: My employer might fire me if I challenge them on workers' compensation. Again, no. In Washington D.C. the employer cannot fire you in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim.
Now that these myths have been debunked: here it what you should do if you have a workers' compensation claim. Give us a call at 202-393-3320 to speak with an intake specialist today for no cost and no obligation. Don't wait too long before you contact us about your case: it's far easier to manage a case from the outset, before mistakes are made, than it is to get a case back on track. We can do both, but you and your family will be better off to have your case reviewed right away.
Finally, order the premier book on DC workers' compensation: Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to DC Workers' Compensation. This is the book the insurance company does not want you to read. Our clients read this book so they can be educated about the process. So go ahead and order yours today by clicking here.
What Happens if Another Company Causes My Injury at Work?
If you were injured on the job by a third-party contractor (that's just a fancy name for another company - one you don't work for, which is a reality in the District with third-party contractors being hired for all sorts of jobs) you may be wondering if you are entitled to both workers' comp benefits and be able to recover damages against the person or company that caused the accident or injuries. The answer, in short, is yes.
Contractors are not employees for your employer. They work for their own employer, and maybe they do a different job. A good example of a situation where contractors are employed is on a construction site.
Let's say you are plumber working for a plumbing company on an installation at a commercial construction site in D.C. Let's say a carpenter leaves a hole uncovered and unmarked and you fall into it; seriously injuring your knee and back. You should get workers' comp benefits because you were hurt on the job. But the carpenter's employer (the one who created the unsafe condition) was responsible. You have the right to hold that company accountable for the harm they caused you; and you don't need to choose between workers' comp and a case against this third party. You can do both.
That is how it works, and you see it all over the place in Washington, D.C. In the areas of construction and other job sites there is more opportunity for injury when contractors don't keep job sites safe. The risk of injury is higher with manual labor; more so than desk jobs. But even if you work a desk job, if you are hurt by someone who is not a co-worker, like a delivery person, or a car accident while you are driving to a work appointment, you have the same rights. If a person other than your employer was negligent and caused injury to you, they can be held personally liable, as well as liability extending to their employer.
Conversely, if you were injured due to the negligence of a fellow employee, you would only be able to recover workers' comp benefits. Workers' comp essentially covers that type of liability for your employer, so they cannot be sued.
At Donahoe Kearney, we've seen your situation many times and we have recently won a joint settlement for both workers' comp cases and a third-party liabilty case. If you have been injured on the job and you are wondering what might be your next steps, give us a call at 202-393-3320. You will speak to a real person today, for no cost and no obligation.
Or, email us at [email protected] and we will send you THE book on D.C. workers' compensation: the book the workers' comp insurance company does not want you to read! Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers' Compensation, now in it's 3rd Edition is THE premier book on the workers' compensation ins and outs in the District of Columbia. You won't want to navigate a workers' comp case without it! The best part is it's free to anybody who calls or emails our offices to request one.
What If My Doctor Recommends Surgery But the Insurance Company Says It's Not Necessary?
You may have seen in this profile that the insurance company doesn't always go according to the recommendation of your treating physician. In fact, in E.P.'s story you can see that he had to have two surgeries because the first one resulted in a serious condition called "frozen shoulder" and he struggled to get the second surgery authorized.
If the insurance company is refusing to authorize the recommendation of your treating physician, you should call an attorney. Often times the insurance company will hire their own doctor to examine you, who is paid by them and will most of the time find in favor of them. They call this exam an Independent Medical Examination, or IME.
We call it what it really is - an Insurance Medical Exam. You're not there for medical treatment and the doctor has no duty to you (most won't even talk to you - they'll say you just have to get the report from the workers' comp insurance company).
Sometimes the only way to get your treatment authorized is through filing for an informal conference (mediation) or a formal hearing. The informal conference is non-binding but might help to reconcile the differences between the two sides. If that doesn't work or for more serious adjudication issues, a formal hearing will result is a binding decision from an adjudication judge.
At Donahoe Kearney we use all of the process to your advantage: to pressure the insurance company to do the right thing, or have a judge order them to do the right thing.
There are no insurance company tactics, strategies, or tricks that we haven't seen (and we can see them coming and prepare you for them). We will do everything we can to make sure your treatment is authorized and that you are on the road to healing.
If you have been caught up in an IME battle or the workers' comp adjuster is denying or delaying your medical treatment after a serious work injury, give us a call at 202-393-3320 or email us at [email protected]. You'll speak to a real person today: no obligation and completely confidential
I Have a Serious Injury. What Is The Best Approach for My Pain Management?
A number of our clients with serious injuries at work or after a car crash ask about medical treatment and pain management. We help them get the treatment they need authorized and paid for by the responsible insurance company.
If you have a serious injury related to an auto or work accident, you may be looking at pain management options. Studies show that physicians are still prescribing painkillers for up to 40 percent of cases, and if you have chronic pain that might be the best route for you.
However, prescription pain meds carry a high risk of addiction and you may want to try a variety of other methods first to find out if your body will respond.
First, there is the old faithful: take an anti-inflammatory, rest and apply heat. If the body has been over-exerted it may just need time to repair itself. Give yourself the time and space to do so.
There are also topical treatments that might help to alleviate your pain, such as products like Mineral Ice and Biofreeze. Other methods designed to go straight to the source of the problem (for example, an injured knee or spine) could include epidural (steriod) injections, trigger-point (local anesthetic) injections, and acupuncture. These injections usually come in series' and can alleviate pain by dealing directly with the injured part of the body.
Another avenue a doctor might prescribe is a compound topical cream to use as a pain reliever. These compounds (created at the pharmacy) can be applied directly to the site of injury and don't have to travel through the bloodstream, which can lessen the risk of addiction over time.
Finally, for very serious injuries, like a torn rotator cuff, surgery might be the best option. Often times the pain management specialist will experiment to see if you respond to other types of treatment before recommending surgery.
Every case is different and your pain management path your own. At Donahoe Kearney we are not doctors, but we have been a part of the process for more than twenty years and have worked with doctors all over the DMV. We assist our clients with finding the best provider for their case and then making sure that treatment is approved and paid for.
If you have a serious injury and have questions about your treatment, give us a call today at 202-393-3320. You will speak with a live person who will try to get you the best information for your injury case; at no cost and no obligation.
What if it has Been More than Two Years Since my Injury? Am I still Eligible for Benefits?
Workers Comp Deadlines
The amount of time between the injury and the deadline to file your workers' compensation claim is called the statute of limitations and it varies from state to state.
Here are the basics for the time to file a workers comp claim in DC, Virginia and Maryland:
In D.C. you have one year from the time you became aware (or should have) of the injury at work (or if it is a disease, the time you became aware of the disease being related to your employment). But there are lots of exceptions to this - it doesn't mean you are out of the workes comp system if you haven't filed the right forms in time. We have helped many people who came to us years after their injury.
In Virginia, you have two years from the date of injury to file with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission, and in Maryland you need to report he injury to the employer and then file your claim with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission within two years. In Maryland, a workers comp insurance company is not supposed to pay workers comp benefits until a claim is filed, and they will usually send the claim form to you.
Be careful here - filing in the wrong state could cost you hundreds of dollars every week. A 10 minute call with us could save you the heartache of this mistake (and workers comp insurance companies know the benefit rates are lower in Maryland and Virginia - they will encourage you to file your workers comp claim there instead of in D.C.)
Most of all, remember - there may be exceptions to the general rules here - don't just assume that you can't file a workers comp claim and be careful which jurisdiction you file in - the benefits you may be able to get are very different depending on where your workers comp claim is filed.
Call us at (202) 393-3320 for a 10 minute phone call that could prevent you and your family from making a devastating financial mistake with your workers comp case!
Can My Employer Fire me While I am Out on Workers' Compensation ?
Most states, including DC, VA, and MD, have provisions that your employer cannot fire you in response to protected behavior such as filing of a workers' compensation claim (called retaliation). But that is rarely the issue.
However, your employer can fire you while you have an open workers' compensation claim for any legal reason if you are an at will employee (union workers may have protections through their union). Sometimes employers say they need to fill your position, and with a serious injury you may not be able to return to your job because you can no longer physically perform the work. Your doctor may have restricted you from lifting, bending, standing, reaching overhead, and other work activities.
Just because your company terminates your employment doesn't mean your workers comp case is over. In fact, it has very little to do with workers comp. The workers comp insurance company will still have to pay your workers comp benefits and medical treatment while you cannot work because of your injuries.
The effect of termination on your workers comp case is often a complicated issue and can affect settlement and other issues - so if you're in that situation, give us a call to see if we can help you take care of your case and your future (202) 393 - 3320.
I was hurt at work and I want to make sure the workers comp insurance company is paying me the right amount. What is the maximum workers' compensation rate in DC?
Workers' compensation rates can vary. You may know that they can vary greatly from state to state - which is why it's important to file in the correct state. Filing your workers comp claim in the wrong place can mean hundreds of dollars lost in workers compensation benefits every week - click here to see how we doubled how much our client was receiving in workers' compensation benefits.
Not only can the workers' comp rate vary from state to state, the maximum rate can vary from year to year.
The maximum compensation rate is the amount of benefits high wage earners in DC will receive. Remember, workers comp benefits while you are out of work because of an on the job injury are 2/3 of your average weekly income (in D.C. the average is usually calculated using your last 26 weeks of income). The max rate is the top amount the workers comp insurance company has to pay you under the law. In DC for example, the maximum workers' compensation rate is set every year. Take for instance that the maximum workers' compensation rate in DC in 1985 was only $396....compare that to the relatively updated figure for 2017 below:
2017 - $1,467.46
$1,467.76 - that's the maximum compensation rate in DC for workers injured on the job in 2017, while the minimum rate is $366.86.
Let's say you worked a ton of overtime, got raises or bonuses or had two jobs in the six months before you were hurt (remember you can add income from a second job) and your average weekly wage was $2,700.00 per week - normally, you'd get 2/3 of that, or $1,800.00 but your benefits would hit the cap and you'd receive $1,467.46 per week in workers comp benefits.
Be careful here - you still want to calculate your average weekly wage as high as possible because that will be used to calculate partial benefits if you go back to work light duty and earn less money because of your injuries. Most people don't realize that, so watch out for that trap.
And, why is it important to know what the rate was in previous years?
If you're a high wage earner entitled to workers' compensation benefits and you've been getting underpaid (meaning the rate at which you've been paid is lower than the maximum rate you should have been receiving - many times because all of your earnings weren't included in the calculation) we can go back to correct the rate and increase the compensation you receive. This would make a huge difference, especially for high wage workers. If you are entitled to just $300 more a week for example, then that's $1,200 more, every month, of benefits just because of this rule.
The workers' comp insurance company didn't explain any of these differences to you?
Give us a call at 202-393-3320 and we'll review your case with you. Or, you can order one of our free books and guides written just for injured workers to make sure you're getting the correct benefit rate for you and your family.
Am I entitled to temporary partial disability when hurt at work?
There are two types of temporary disability: temporary total disability and temporary partial disability (also referred to as "wage-loss" temporary disability).
But, let's talk about temporary partial disability today to answer your question. Click here for more information about temporary total disability.
When workers get injured on the job, it can take some time to recover and to reach maximum medical improvement. In addition to rest, medications, physical therapy, and knowing your case is in good hands, there's one more thing that we've found that can speed up the recovery process: going back to work.
How? See how slowly getting back to work can actually help you recover.
Since going back to work can help, many injured workers go back to work on the advice of their treating physician. The treating physician will assess your recovery and give you medical restrictions before going back to work - maybe working part-time, or performing a light-duty version of your job that will not put too much stress on you or aggravate your injury.
If you're making less by working light-duty because of your injuries and your doctor's advice to only do light duty work, then you are eligible for temporary partial disability. That can be calculated every week or every two weeks depending on how often you are paid. You should be receiving TPD benefits in addition to your light duty salary or hours.
But, of course, the laws are different in different states. And, it matters more when it comes to the compensation you stand to receive if you're injured at work and can only return by doing light duty.
Is the insurance adjuster telling you which doctor you can see or where to get your medical care? Confused about which state you should file workers' compensation benefits in, and what your rights are? Fed up with that nurse case manager who shows up at your doctors appointments?
Give us a call at 202-393-3320 to get answers to your questions, and to get started on getting the help you need to recover today.
I Was Hurt in an Accident on my Way to Work. Does Workers' Compensation Cover Me?
In DC, Maryland and Virginia, Workers' compensation covers injuries that happen in the course and scope of employment, so that means injuries that happen on the job suddenly, or injuries that happen on the job over a long period of time. Workers' Comp even sometimes covers injuries that happen outside of your office building or work site; like accidents on your commute, or accidents on business trips.
Because every case is different, whether or not you are covered by workers' comp and the amount of workers' compensation benefits you stand to receive (if eligible) may be different depending on a lot of factors.
In other words, it depends. Typical lawyer answer, right?
But on this question, it really does depend on a lot of factors you need to analyze. There are many questions we will have to ask, like in the case of getting into an accident: were you in a company truck when the accident occurred? Were you on or off duty? Was the truck used to provide you transportation to and from work? Did the company pay for gas, insurance, tolls, etc.? Were you on your way home, or were you on your way to your first stop of the day, for example? All these factors may make a difference in your case - and an expereinced workers' comp lawyer will listen to your answers and discuss all of these aspects with you!
So, if you're hurt in an accident there are ways to get help for your injuries through workers' compensation, but getting an experienced attorney on your side is the first step to realizing these goals. You can click here to hear testimonials of some of our clients who we've helped through their workers' compensation claims over the last 20 years. Remember that every case is different so if you have a question, contact us today.
Never take the insurance company's word for it! Just a few weeks ago, a company told a plumber hurt in a truck accident in Maryand on his way home from the job site (he was in a company truck) that he could not get workers' comp benefits. They were wrong!
You can start NOW by ordering any of our FREE informational materials like the 5 Commons Mistakes that will Absolutely Kill Your Workers' Comp Case to make sure that the steps you're taking are the best ones for you and your family after an accident at work.
Then, if you're confused about anything, want clarification, or just want to talk to an attorney about your workers' compensation matter, give us a call at 202-393-3320 or contact us here on our website.
What kind of injuries does workers' compensation cover?
Workers' compensation insurance generally covers injuries or illnesses that happen in the course and scope of employment - and workers comp insurance companies love to fight over what that means, so they can deny or delay your workers compensation claim. It's basically injuries at work or involved in work and not injuries that happen when you're not on the job.
It usuually doesn't cover injuries on your commute, unless you are in a company vehicle or paid for travel time, or at home. There is an exception for telecommuting injuries as well.
So, it's easy to see that workers' compensation in D.C., Maryland and Virginia won't cover everything. Then, what does workers comp cover?
Workers' compensation covers injuries you sustain at work or during the course of fulfilling your work duties. It covers both traumatic and occupational injuries in the workplace. But remember, the laws in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are all different, so call us to make sure.
What's the difference between a traumatic injury and an occupational illness?
A traumatic injury can result from a one-time accident at work. Say you were lifting a heavy box at work and you heard a sound in your back, signaling a sudden injury. Or say you were working on a machine and your hand got caught in a machine. You can identify the injury - you know you're hurt - right when it happens.
You need to report these injuries to a supervisor as soon as you can.
An occupational disease is an injury that happens over a period of time because of your work and the tasks you are assigned to do. Often times, repetitive movements at work can lead to an occupational disease. And, illnesses from exposure to toxic substances at work, like asbestos, may cause an occupational disease in workeers in that environment.
Once a doctor says your illness or condition is related to the work activity, you'll need to report it to your employer.
But, remember, the workers comp insurance may tell you that your work injury isn't covered by workers comp - don't rely on them to tell you whether you can get workers' comp benefits. Get the information you need for yourself and your family.
Have a question about your specific accident at work? Give our office a call at 202-393-3320 - we set up times with people just like you to answer questions, provide resources, and much more. We'll even start now - you can click here to order your own FREE copy of Protect Your Rights that will answer many of your questions about the D.C. workers compensation system.