D.C. Maryland and Virginia medical malpractice, accidents and work injuries questions answered by D.C. injury attorneys.
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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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The Office of Workers Compensation Claims Examiner Recommended I Have an Informal Conference. What is That?
An Informal Conference is a Non-Binding Mediation For Contested Workers Compensation Claims
In D.C. workers' compensation cases, one of the ways to get an issue decided is through an informal conference. Just like the name suggests, it's informal, with very few rules. You don't testify under oath and there is no record or transcript of the testimony. Witnesses are not generally allowed but you can submit medical reports and other documents to the claims examiner. It's more of a mediation than anything else and the decision is not binding.
Here's what that means - the recommendation that comes out of this conference is not binding on the parties. Either side can reject it and request a formal hearing (which requires testimony under oath, creates a record and can result in a Compensation Order).
Here at Donabhoe Kearney we usually advise not going to an informal conference if you are out of work due to your injury but the insurance company is contesting it. They are just going to reject the recommendation and proceed to a formal hearing. All you've done is delay your benefits by a couple of months to engage in this process and given the insurance company free discovery and more time to build their defenses. With our clients, we always proceed directly to a formal hearing.
Sometimes an informal conference is necessary: for example if you want to change physicians and the insurance company won't approve the change. But if you're not getting paid by the insurance company, it's just a waste of time and you'll need to go to a formal hearing so you can get a binding decision from a judge. But don't go it alone. You'll need an experienced workers compensation lawyer like Frank Kearney to win your benefits and keep your medical treatment authorized.
Get More Free Information Today About Your DC Workers Compensation Claim
You can learn more about formal heatings and many other critical topics in the signature book on workers' compensation, Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers Compensation. You can order it online or call us at 202-393-3320 and we are happy to send you a free copy.
If you have questions about whether you should go to informal conference, give us a call at 202-393-3320 to speak with a real person today. We will take down your information for no cost and no obligation.
I was hurt at work in DC. Does my company have to provide light duty?
Light Duty in DC Workers Comp Cases
In workers compensation cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, it’s up to your company to provide light duty if you can't do your regular job because of your injury but your doctor says you can do some work, or work with restrictions - in other words, it’s the employer's choice to offer light duty work - and some do but others don't.
Some employers have true light duty jobs available that they can move an injured worker to - and if so, that injured worker would receive his regular salary instead of workers comp benefits for the time he is on light duty.
Other companies may create a light duty job or have a light duty program. A construction company could have a construction worker with a shoulder injury sit in the trailer, or make sure everyone wears a hard hat. A transit employer could have injured workers watch a parking lot. Again the injured employee would be paid his regular salary instead of workers compensation benefits.
One thing to keep in mind is that even if you are receiving your standard hourly rate in a light duty job, you may be owed additional workers compensation benefits (called temporary partial disability). This is because your average weekly wage (which includes overtime, bonuses and may include income from a second job) could be more than your standard hourly rate.
What if your company doesn't have light duty work and can't make up a light duty job for you?
They have to pay your full workers compensation benefits, also called temporary total disability, or TTD, just as if your doctor said you could not do any work because of the injury.
One thing to watch out for if you have a Virginia workers compensation case - if you are not under an Award, you must look for light duty work within your restrictions (called marketing your residual capacity) even if you will be released to your regular duty job with your company in a short time.
Light Duty Restrictions and Vocational Rehabilitation
And in DC cases, the workers comp insurance company may start vocational rehabilitation - hiring a vocational specialist to look for jobs for you within your restrictions. If you are in vocational rehabilitation, please call us - we have a lot to tell you about the process (it is sometimes a sham and the insurance company will use it to cut off your benefits, so be careful).
The bottom line with light duty is it depends on the employer. But the key to any light duty job is to make sure it is within your doctor's restrictions - you don't want to do anything to risk further injury or delay the recovery from your injury.
Every employer does something different and every case depends on specific factors. So if you have questions, call us at (202) 393-3320.
How does PPE affect the safety conditions in my work environment?
Does PPE Protect You From a Work Injury?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to protect workers from getting seriously injured while working. PPEs can be face shields, hard hats or safety glasses. They can also be garments such as gloves, vests, coveralls, earplugs, or devices such as respirators. Even though PPE requirements will vary depending on the industry and materials each industry handles, both employers and employees are responsible for using PPEs properly. Employers are required to identify workplace hazards and use PPEs, as well as other methods to reduce hazards. Employers must also train and require workers to use PPEs. Meanwhile, it is the employees’ responsibility to report problems with the equipment to employers.
It is important to know that using a PPE doesn’t eliminate work hazards. It only helps prevent injury due to work hazards. For example, hard hats on a work site are required to help prevent head injuries from falling equipment. Requiring workers to wear hard hats doesn’t eliminate the risk of equipment falling but it can help prevent injuries. So, employers need to implement methods like using PPEs to help reduce risks of serious injuries in a given work environment.
One way you can protect yourself and your crew is to make sure your work environment is up to standards. This could help prevent life-changing injuries.
Here are some of the organizations that published guidelines for standards of care for workers, PPE requirements, and more:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an organization that created standards of care for workers. Besides OSHA’s PPE requirements, the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI), ASTM International (ASTM), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also publish standards for the manufacture, testing and use of PPE.
Do You Know Someone Who Has Had a Serious Work Accident?
If you know someone with a serious work injury or have questions about workers compensation in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, contact our experienced workers compensation lawyers today and order one of our free guides on workers compensation or the book, Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers’ Compensation or by calling (202) 393-3320.
What are some of the workers’ compensation benefits available in the District of Columbia?
If You've Been Injured at Work, Here are Some of the Common Benefits Available in the District of Columbia:
Temporary Total Disability:
An injured worker is entitled to temporary total disability benefits if he or she is unable to return to work because of the on-the-job injury. With this benefit, the worker is paid 2/3 of his or her average weekly wage.
Temporary Partial Disability:
A worker was injured at work but his doctor says he can return to work only on restricted duty or light duty. This worker is entitled to temporary partial disability benefits, based on the difference between the pre-injury average weekly wage and the post-injury earnings. For instance, in the District of Columbia, temporary partial disability benefits are 2/3 of the difference between the worker’s average weekly wage and the new income.
Permanent Partial Disability:
The difference between this level of disability and the first two is that with the first two, the employee is expected to return to work after recovery and to be able to perform to his or her full capacity. A worker who is permanently impaired from an on-the-job injury is entitled to permanent partial disability.
It is important to note that these are just the basic definitions. However, it’s much more complex than this because there are many different variables that play into the situation. For example, injuries to the back or neck are compensated by temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, or permanent partial disability, based upon wage loss. Another factor that is taken into account is the nature of the injured worker’s job.
Workers’ compensation cases are extremely complex and time consuming. Once you’re injured on the job, make sure you have all the information and have all the help you can get. One simple mistake can cost you thousands of dollars each week. Call us today at (202)393-3320 to speak to us about your work-related injury so we can work together to make sure you’re receiving all the benefits that are available for you. This will help you stop worrying about the finances and start focusing on getting better.
Have Your Workers Comp Benefits Been Denied? Contact our Workers Compensation Lawyers Today
If you're worried about getting benefits after a work injury, you're not alone. Our experienced workers comp lawyers can get you started on the right path to protect yourself and your family. Contact us today at 202-393-3320.
Will it hurt my DC workers' compensation case to look for another job or take another job after my injury heals?
Will it hurt my DC workers' compensation case to look for another job or take another job after my injury heals?
Not at all. The way it works is your weekly workers compensation benefits should continue until you are released by your doctor to return to your regular job or you return to another job making more money than you were when you got hurt.
If you have a permanent injury to an arm, leg, hand, foot, etc. (sometimes called a scheduled loss or permanent partial disability based on the schedule) you can get those benefits after you reach maximum medical improvement whether you are working for the same employer or not.
Future medical treatment and ultimately settlement will not be affected by a job change, either.
How Can I Get My Difficult Insurance Adjuster To Cooperate?
Workers Compensation Companies Employ Adjusters, Nurse Case Managers, Attorneys, Vocational Specialists and More to Fight Your Claim
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. Their job is to limit the amount the insurance company pays for medical treatment, testing, medications, therapy, benefits, etc. 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 and they really 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.
You Need an Advocate on Your Side to Balance the Scales
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.
Contact our Experienced Workers Compensation Lawyers Today
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 make sure you contact an experienced workers comp lawyer right away if your checks are coming late
Contact Our Experienced Workers Compensation Lawyers Today
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. 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.
I Hurt My Shoulder at Work and My Doctor Thinks It's a Torn Rotator Cuff. What Do I Do?
3 Ways to Avoid Messing Up Your Case After Rotator Cuff Tear
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. If you are a heavy duty worker, you might be dealing with a permanent injury that will keep you from going back to work.
How do you protect yourself if this serious injury happens at work?
There are three essential things that you need to do when you're hurt at work in order to protect your legal case, your income, and your livelihood. 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.
Second, 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.
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. Make sure you choose the best doctor to be your long term provider to deal with this injury. You could be looking at months or even years of rehabilitation and/or rotator cuff repair surgery, so you want to make sure you choose the best physician from the outset. If you don't, it can be very difficult to get the physician approved later on.
Finally, file your workers' compensation claim in the right jurisdiction.
If You Have a Serious Injury That Requires Surgery, You May Need Ongoing Legal Help to Protect Yourself and Your Family
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. And if you need help now, contact our experienced staff at 202-393-3320 and we will help you take the next right steps today.
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?
What is Work Hardening and How Do I Know If I Need It After a Serious Injury at Work
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.
Contact Us If You're Looking For a Place to Do Work Hardening
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.