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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  • Hartford Denied My Workers Comp Case - What should I do?

    First, don't panic.  Hartford and other workers comp insurance companies in DC routinely deny legitimate claims for workers comp benefits after someone has been hurt at work.  We see this all the time.

    You should receive a Notice of Controversion within 14 days of when your company knows about the injury (and a critical part of any DC workers comp case is making sure you notify your employer about your injury - you need to do that in writing, sometimes employers will have an incident or injury form, or tell your boss or supervisor that the injury happened at work.  It's not enough to tell a co-worker or just to say "my back is hurting").  The Notice of Controversion Hartford files should give a reason why they are denying the claim.

    Sometimes that reason is they just don't have enough information - maybe they haven't gotten your medical records that relate the injury to your work and your doctor's opinion that you cannot work. That's another critical piece to get your case going.

    If your injury is serious - you need surgery, or you'll miss a lot of time from work - this is the time to get a DC workers comp lawyer who can help.  Because once that Notice of Controversion is filed, they don't have to pay your benefits if you can't work or your medical treatment.  It's up to you to request a Formal Hearing so a judge can decide the case.

    Because of the way we work the case up for you, any times we can get the insurance company to start the benefits and provide the medical treatment well before the hearing - but you need that hearing in place.

    Need more info on what to do if Hartford is your workers comp insurance company?

    Call us today at 202-393-3320 for a FREE copy of the only book on workers comp written for workers injured in the DMV (it's the book the insurance company doesn't want you to read) to learn what you have to do to make sure the insurance company doesn't take advantage of you and your family after a serious injury at work. 

  • What Medical Records Do I Need for My Workers Comp Case?

    Here at Donahoe Kearney we get a lot of calls from people who want us to review their case - which is fantastic because that is what we like to do. However sometimes its just not clear what you need - and this can be a really stressful time for you if you're seriously hurt and worried about your future, your medical treatment and your finances, we totally get that.   Because let's face it - you've never been injured like this before, never been through the DC workers comp system and you might now know the difference between a treating physician and a specialist and a pain management doctor. And this is simply because you've never been here before!

    In any injury case it's always the most important thing to get your medical treatment. Some people might be tempted to wait until their treatment is authorized (in a workers' comp case or sometimes in a car accident). However, if you have personal insurance or can pay on your own you need to use it in order to get the treatment you need. The strongest case that we can build is one with strong medical treatment and strong support, through the medical records, for your case.

    This is because a lot of times, especially in a workers' comp case, the insurance company will deny the case simply because they don't have medical records and so they will deny the case as a matter of course, to test and see whether or not the injured worker will challenge the decision.

    Here's an example of the medical records request form that we use here at Donahoe Kearney to keep track of your medical treatment - and this is for all types of injury cases in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia, but it's especially helpful for you if you get hurt at work in DC and are in the workers comp system.  You better believe your workers comp insurance adjuster is tracking everything!  Especially with her team of nurses, doctors, investigators and lawyers working for the insurance company and against you (whether you know it or not).

    MEDICAL RECORDS REQUEST

    Name:

    Date Completed:

    To ensure your medical records are completely up to date, please answer the below questions. Please email the completed document to me at [email protected].  Should you have any questions, please call us at 202-393-3320. Thank you!

    Would you please confirm your current treating physician?

     

     

    When did you last see this doctor?

     

    When is your next appointment scheduled?

     

    When did you last send us your records?

     

    Are you seeing a separate doctor for pain management?

     

    When did you last see this doctor?

     

    When is your next appointment scheduled?

     

    When did you last send us your records?

     

    Are you seeing any other specialists?

     

    When did you last see this doctor?

     

    When is your next appointment scheduled?

     

    When did you last send us your records?

     

    Are you seeing any other specialists?

     

    When did you last see this doctor?

     

    When is your next appointment scheduled?

     

    When did you last send us your records?

     

    Generally speaking the "Treating Physician" is the doctor that you are seeing every month and is more or less the hub of your medical treatment. A general physician, a specialist, and a pain management physician can all be treating physicians so long as that particular person is your "main" doctor. And you can have all three and they can be different doctors - it just depends upon your injury and the complexity of your injury.

    If we are investigating your case, we want to know who are your doctors, when you last saw them, do you have a work note, and do you have your supporting progress notes. That will help us determine the medical aspects of your case, and see if we can give you specific advice and/or potentially take your case.

    Are you knee-deep in medical records from a serious injury and not sure which doctors and important, where your case is legally, and what to do next? You should probably focus on your recovery and let us take care of everything else for you.

    Give us a call today at 202-393-3320 and you'll speak to a real person who wants to hear your story - and hopefully can help!

  • I'm on short-term disability: should I switch to workers' comp?

     

    Sometimes the world of employment law and the world of workers' compensation law get confused, and it doesn't help that employers (meaning, your human resources department) like to tell you that rather than filing a workers' compensation claim you should use your 1) sick leave; 2) FMLA leave; 3) PTO; 4): short-term disability and/or a combination of all of the above.

    Why? Well, I'm so glad you asked.

    Why do you think your employer might be hesitant to open a workers' comp claim? Because workers' comp is the only insurance and/or system out of those four options that is paid for 100% by the employer (through their workers compensation insurance). No co-insurances, monthly check deductions, or "time banks." Workers' compensation insurance is required by law for anyone with three or more employees and employees don't pay into it.

    This is what makes it different than say, short-term disability (which the employee usually pays into themselves through paycheck deductions). Or sick leave, or FMLA leave, or PTO (which all end at some point when you've used up your bank or expired your federal time limit). 

    And many of those have exclusions for injuries that happen at work.  

    We hear all the time from clients "My employer said that I had to use my sick leave" or "I've been out on FMLA." If you were injured while working, this should absolutely not be the case. But because most workers don't know their rights they follow the instructions their company gives them. After all, they will take care of you, right?

    Nope. Probably not.

    We have also heard stories about how the worker was convinced the employer would take care of him, they have been working for them for 25 years, etc, etc. And your boss, your supervisor, even the owner of your company may want to do just that.

    We hate to be the bearers of bad news but once you are injured at work, your employer is essentially turning you over to the insurance company and their  entire team of nurses, doctors, attorneys, and claim administrators all trained to limit your benefits.

    So, if you are on one of those other types of insurances, can you switch to workers' comp? 

    It all depends. If you have been on FMLA or Disability for a long time, you may have issues with bringing a workers' compensation case. One of the critical parts of a workers' comp claim in Washington, DC is that you have to have your treating physician connect the injury to your work, and another critical part is that you have to give timely notice to your employer of a work injury.

    Do you want more information on how this works?

    Call us today at 202-393-3320 and you will speak with a real person who wants to hear your story. Do that, and order a copy of our free book on workers' compensation that will give you the A-Z on workers' compensation in Washington, DC so you can learn about the process before you make case-ending mistakes.

    CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR FREE COPY TODAY

  • What is the max workers comp benefit rate in DC?

     

    DC Workers Comp Benefits 

     

    Pursuant to the District of Columbia Workers' Compensation Act of 1979, D.C. Official Code,§ 32-1505, effective January 1, 2019, the maximum weekly compensation payment for the District of Columbia private sector workers' compensation claims is $1,521.74 The minimum weekly compensation payment is $380.44.

     

    That is a 2% increase from last year.

     

     

    Looking for more info on Maximum Compensation Rates for DC Workers' Compensation over they years?

    CLICK HERE

     

    Are you wondering what type of compensation rates you might be entitled to for your work injury? Have you heard terms floating around like permanent partial disability PPD or permanent total disability PTD? 

     

    Don't wonder any more. Call us! We always make sure that our clients are getting paid the highest possible rate (if you have more than one job, check out this article on wage stacking).

     

    Don't wait until you've already screwed up your case. It is possible to get too far down the line and the insurance adjuster will pull out their bag of tricks if you are unsuspecting.

     

     

    Call us at 202-393-3320 today.

  • Is your insurance adjuster running away with hundreds of your dollars?

    Is your DC workers' compensation insurance adjuster running away with hundreds of your dollars?

    Know someone with a serious work injury who doesn’t know what to do next?

    Have them check out a replay of our Webinar to learn the 5 Killer Mistakes of Workers Comp and how to avoid them. It’s got great information on what to do after you get hurt at work – and they can watch from the comfort of their own home – hopefully before they talk to the insurance company.

    Here’s the site for the replay …..https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmXSLUBAaLIRlcXzSKPUytg

    Or just have them call us and we’ll send them a link!  Thanks for watching.

  • If I don't get a lawyer for my case, where will I be in five years?

    Do You Really Need a Lawyer for Your Workers Comp Case?

    People who have been through a major medical trauma, like a work injury, a case of medical malpractice or a serious auto accident tend to not be thinking very clearly. When you're in that space you're more thinking "what do I need to do, to get through just today," and not so much like "where is this going to take me five years down the road?"

    And that is totally okay, and acceptable, and normal. However, we have watched many people go through the process of recovering from a serious accident, and many of them don't know that five years down the road their life could look radically different.

    And they're unprepared when life hands them major changes.

    You may be asking, like what?

    Here is a "for-instance."

    A union worker who didn't know his rights, and didn't realize he might need an attorney, literally threw away hundreds of dollars every single week because his "helpful" claims adjuster told him to file his workers' comp claim forms in the wrong state (the worker didn't know the workers comp benefit rate in Maryland was $400 less that in D.C. - but the insurance adjuster sure did).

    5 years down the road he may be unable to return to work, unable to properly care for his family, and unable to fully recover his lost wages because of the limits in the state where his claim is filed.

    There are a few other situations, which confidentiality prevents me from discussing, where people have quite possibly foregone large settlements because at the time they didn't think they needed an attorney.

    The reality is that you may not need an attorney, especially if you have a relatively minor injury and can return to the same type of work. And you can't trust every attorney to be up front with you about that. But, we will be honest with you because we only take serious cases where we can make a big impact in someone's life. We make it a practice not to waste your time, or ours.

    So give us a call today at 202-393-3320 for a free review of the facts of your case. If necessary, we will take a look at your medical records (confidentially with no cost associated) to help you determine whether or not you need a lawyer. And if you do need a lawyer for your serious injury case, you've come to the right place.

    Here's to being happy, healthy, and free five years down the road!

    (And for the right people - we help make that happen)

  • What if the doctors are recommending surgery, but I don't want it?

    Can the insurance company force you to have surgery?

    One of our clients recently asked me "can the insurance company force me to have surgery?" He has a serious injury, and both his treating physician and the insurance company doctors are recommending surgery. But he is a smart guy, and he knows that surgery doesn't always "take." There are well documented risks with any significant surgery and he and his doctor have discussed those.  In fact, we currently have another client who is considering a second spinal fusion because his first one didn't "take," and his pain has progressively gotten back to pre-surgery levels.

    These are great guys- fantastic workers who got seriously hurt at work - and who didn't deserve any of this. 

    Nobody wants to trade chronic pain for painful surgery recovery, only to be followed by more chronic pain. And although most qualified surgeons put the odds of a successful spinal fusion to improve pain in your favor, it's still a big decision for any patient.  

    And there is concern, according to US News and World Reports, that spinal fusions are over-utilized.

    Have you been seriously injured at work and your doctor, or the insurance doctor is recommending surgery?

    Call us today as 202-393-3320

    So, back to the question.

    Can the insurance company force you to have surgery?

    The answer is no, so don't listen to the insurance company and the adjuster on this. They cannot force you to undergo an invasive surgical procedure in a D.C. workers comp case.  But if surgery is being recommended by your treating physician and the independent (defense medical) exam, doctor, or any second opinion doctor you went to on your own (and we advise our clients to get a second opinion) it is something you should consider and determine what will be best for you and your family, both now and long term.  Surgery can give relief and increase mobility, which is critical as you get older. 

    If the insurance adjuster is smart, he or she may recognize that ultimately surgery is a gamble for the insurance company as well (they are responsible for anything that goes wrong in the surgery, or if it makes your condition worse) plus it's more expensive for the workers comp insurance company than conservative treatment.   So, it really depends on what you decide - what you think is best for your serious injury and how it will affect you.

    The good news is, we have a strategy, for you.

    For our clients, we know the details and risks of their medical treatment and we can give them all of the information they need, and options for their DC workers comp case so they can decide the best course of action. Let's face it - for some serious medical conditions and injuries, surgery is the treatment of choice.  But we would never allow a workers comp insurance company to force a client into having surgery  if he or she wasn't comfortable having surgery, so we would work hard to negotiate a different outcome for them, such as a settlement or long-term pain management and other types of conservative medical treatment. On the other hand if our client wants surgery and is aware of the risks, we will fight for that as well.

     

    It's critical for you and your family to get all of the information you need about the workers comp system before making an important decision on surgery - call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 to get the information you need.

  • What is the maximum workers compensation benefit rate in DC?

    In DC, the maximum workers comp benefit rate an injured worker receives when he cannot work changes from year to year.

    In 2018, the max compensation rate is $1,491.90.  Here's what that means and how it works:

    If you're hurt at work in DC, or hurt working for a DC company, your workers comp benefits (the amount the workers comp insurance company pays you while you can't work due to your injuries) is 2/3 of your average weekly wages.  The average weekly wage is averaged over the 26 weeks, or six months before you got hurt (so if your income varies because of overtime, bonuses, per diem, etc., save your pay stubs so you can verify the insurance company included all of your income).

    If you have a second job in DC, and worked at the second job during the six months before the injury, you should add that to the calculation as well - your workers comp benefits will be based on combining the income from both jobs (a lot of people don't know this).

    How does the maximum compensation rate work?  It's basically the top cut off of what workers comp insurance companies have to pay you if your average weekly wage is high enough. 

    So if you were hurt at work in 2018, if your average weekly wage is $2,237.85 or higher, you would receive the max compensation rate.

    It's also important to get the average weekly wage right - making sure it includes bonuses, overtime, raises, combining income from your second job, etc. - because that will determine the benefit rate for other DC workers comp benefits you may get in the future.

    Here are 2 examples of workers comp benefits you may get in the future:

    If you return to light duty work (can't do your regular job because of the injury, you have medical restrictions, or the doctor says you can't work as many hours) and you're now earning less money than before your injury, you should get temporary partial disability benefits.

    If your injury is permanent and causes permanent damage to an arm, leg, hand, foot , etc. (not the neck or back - but that could be the cause of the original injury) you should get permanent partial disability benefits.

    Both types of benefits can be paid at the maximum compensation rate for 2018.

    Most people have questions - and you don't want to make a mistake and lose money on this.  So don't let your adjuster, as nice as she may seem to be, take advantage of you on this (that is her job after all...)

    Call us today at (202) 393 - 3320 for the free resources you need to make sure you don't make a mistake and get taken advantage of.

     

  • Can a construction worker in DC sue another contractor for injuries even if he gets workers comp?

    When a construction worker is hurt in DC, he can sue the contractor that caused the injuries even if he gets workers comp for being hurt on the job.

    In DC, a construction worker hurt on the job because another company or contractor was negligent can sue that contractor.  We call that a "third party case" because the other company isn't his employer.  He can hold the other contractor responsible for his damages even though he gets workers comp benefits for being hurt on the job.

    Here's a real life example of how it works:

    A concrete finisher was working at a construction site in DC where they were building a parking garage.  They were preparing the foundation of the garage, so had dug the holes to fill with concrete and serve as the footers.  The holes were 4 feet deep and had to be filled with rebar that was tied off to strengthen the concrete.

    After the concrete workers completed the rebar phase, and everything was inspected, it was time to pour the concrete.  Concrete trucks were ordered and lined up at the construction site, ready to go, because the concrete has to be poured relatively quickly.  

    The concrete workers or finishers, have to smooth the concrete and vibrate it as it is poured.  The concrete or cement truck driver begins the pour and raises and lowers the chute by controls on his truck.

    For this job, the holes for the footings were so big that the concrete workers had to lay a walk board across the hole so they could get to the middle and vibrate the concrete.  When one of them was on the walk board, over the exposed rebar, the cement mixer driver activated the controls on his truck and the chute where the concrete came out,  knocking the walk board and the man on it, into the rebar.

    The rebar broke several bones in the concrete workers leg and tore tendons when he fell into it.  He was in surgery to repair the damage later that day.

    Since he got hurt on the job in DC, he received workers comp benefits.  But under DC law, he could also sue the company that delivered the concrete (that's who the cement mixer driver worked for) for all the harm they caused him because of their driver's negligence (and OSHA safety violations).

    And the DC law that allows this applies to any worker injured by someone else - a worker who is in a car accident at work, a construction site accident caused by another company, a fall at a building you go to for a meeting.  

    It is complicated when you get hurt at work and it's someone else's fault - and there are critical mistakes to avoid - but don't limit yourself and your family to just getting workers comp benefits.  You owe it to yourself to investigate what else can be done (before it's too late).

    Need more info about third party cases, negligence and workers comp?  Call us at (202) 393 - 3320 or order one of our free books, guides and reports. But don't wait - these cases all have time limits that will close the door forever on your ability to hold the other company responsible for what they did, and prevent it from happening in the future.

     

  • What is an "injury diary" and why should I keep one?

     

    So, you've been hurt at work and you are the kind of person who relies on their physical abilities for employment. You do heavy lifting, bending, rotating your shoulders, squatting, and all manner of physical labor. Suddenly you have been placed on work restrictions, and been referred to physical therapy to teach your body, once again, how to operate. You may be frustrated, confused, and wondering how you are going to provide for your family with a torn rotator cuff, or an injured cervical spine. 

    YOU'RE NOT ALONE

    With DC workers' comp it can be so easy to screw up your case simply because you don't know what your rights are, and you assume that the employer and the insurance company are going to take care of you. While this may, in some cases (not all) be true of your employer, they actually have very little influence over the insurance company.

    The idea that your employer is in charge of your workers' comp case is a very common mistaken belief, so I will say it again. They actually have very little influence over the insurance company. The insurance company is a third-party company, and their job is administrate your claim.

    If you are just getting started on your claim, it's best to heed this advice from the very start. If you have been working on your claim for awhile, it's never too late to get organized and be in charge of your case.

    The first thing I would recommend is to:

    1). Keep track of your benefits checks. The insurance company will try and do try regularly to trip you up with respect to your benefits. If you don't know exactly how much you are expecting to receive on your check and when you are expecting to receive it, you run the risk of falling directly into their trap because they will use the lack of careful records as an opportunity to skip your payment. Your workers' comp rate (benefits rate) is calculated by the last 26 weeks you got paid (the average) and multiplied by 2/3. In other words, your benefits rate is 2/3 of what you were getting paid before.

    You can ask me for a sample of a payment tracking spreadsheet. I'm happy to send it to you - just email [email protected] with the subject line "Payment Tracking." You should be recording which dates are covered by the check, which day you expect to receive your check, and how much it should be. Also, keep your pay stubs in a file.

    If you are a client of ours and your check comes more than three days late, let us know right away. Three days late is an inconvenience but three weeks late is a crisis. Don't wait to let us know.

    If your check is more than 3 days late call us now to find out what we do about it.

    The second thing I would recommend is to: 

    2). Keep a diary of your appointments with your treating physician. Nobody knows better than you what your treating physician told you, and most times medical records don't tell the whole story. Do not let the nurse case manager into the room with you and your doctor.

    Every time you see your treating physician write down a)what he/she told you about your condition; b) what he/she told you about your prognosis; and c) how long he/she took you out of work.

    Next, you should:

    3). Make sure you have a disability note if you are out of work and requesting your office visit notes from the front desk at the doctor's office. 

    There is a significant difference between your disability note and your office visit notes, and you need both. The disability note (and all of your orders and referrals) tells how long you are out of work and what your doctor is requesting next for your treatment plan. The office visit notes, or progress notes, give a summary and overview of your visit and your treatment plan.

     

    If you have been keeping an appointment diary, we want to see that too. The more we know about your medical treatment, the better job we can do at being your advocate. Clients of ours have the benefit of our twenty years of experience in handling workers' comp claims. If you have a serious work injury, call us today at 202-393-3320.

    The last thing I would recommend, whether you are handling this on your own or have a workers comp attorney, is to draft a job description from the very beginning and bring it in to show your treating physician and remind him of the physical aspects of your job. Treating physicians see many patients during the day and may not remember the physicality of your job from month to month. Bring your job description with you every month, so that he or she can properly and accurately give you restrictions.

    If you are feeling overwhelmed, and have a significant work injury give us a call today. All we do is help people with serious, life changing injuries, and if you call us today at 202-393-3320 you will speak with a real person who wants to hear your story.

    And don't forget to order your FREE book on DC workers' compensation: Protect Your Rights, the Ultimate Guide to DC Workers' Compensation. Get the benefit of twenty years of our experience for no cost or obligation at all!