You do not expect when you show up to work every morning that you might leave with a serious injury. Unfortunately, it happens often. It can happen to anyone at any time, and you want to be prepared when it does happen. Dealing with insurance adjusters to get you the benefits you deserve can be tedious, stressful, scary, and even infuriating.
Having a Washington, DC workers’ compensation lawyer working on your case can make all the difference. The experienced workers’ comp attorneys at Donahoe Kearney wrote the book for injured workers. Let a workers’ compensation attorney from our law firm help you fight for as much compensation as possible.
The time limit to file workers’ compensation cases in Washington, DC is far less than in some states. You must report your injury to both your employer and the Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) within 30 days of the injury occurring. This begins the workers’ compensation process. If you fail to report in a timely fashion, you could lose your right to benefits.
It is also essential that you file in the right place – if you got hurt in D.C. or if that is where you do most of your work, file in Washington, D.C. This is because the workers’ compensation rate in the District of Columbia differs from that in surrounding states like Virginia or Maryland. In fact, DC rates are higher than in those states.
If you file incorrectly, you cannot amend your claim, and you could be stuck with lower rates which could affect your ability to pay for your medical treatment and other medical expenses and your percentage of lost wages. You could lose more than $20,000 annually in tax-free benefits just for filing in the wrong state.
It is a critical error that is all too common. Get in touch with Donahoe Kearney by calling (202)-932-9800, or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with a workers’ comp lawyer and get the legal advice you need today.
Both workers’ compensation and personal injury suits compensate you for getting hurt, but that is where the similarity ends. A personal injury case has a different set of rules and damages; besides medical bills and lost wages, it can also include injuries like pain and suffering. An injury case of this nature also requires that you prove negligence, or fault, in the case. These cases are pursued by personal injury lawyers representing the injured party.
Workers’ compensation insurance, however, covers you specifically for a workplace injury or work-related injuries that happen during the normal course of your job, even occupational diseases or a car accident while on your way to a client meeting (but not commuting to or from work). Workers’ compensation cases are not concerned with fault in any manner whatsoever. They are designed to cover your medical costs and a portion of your lost wages, but they do not permit you to sue for pain and suffering. It is also worth noting that workers’ compensation laws do not allow you to sue your employer for a workplace accident. Your workers’ compensation attorney can advise you on where you stand with your case.
You can have both a personal injury and a workers’ comp case for the same incident – you don’t have to choose one. We help people with both types of cases get both the best workers’ comp settlement and the best settlement from the person or company who caused the injury at work.
Injured employees can receive several types of benefits in a workers’ comp case. For the most part, what you receive depends mainly on the nature of your injury, whether permanent or temporary, partial or total. The type and severity of the specific injury also come into play, such as issues of severe and permanent limitations or even death benefits.
Total disability benefits assume that you cannot work at all. These types of benefits allow injured workers to have medical bills covered by the workers’ compensation insurance company. They also entitle workers to 66 2/3% of their average weekly income. Temporary benefits assume that, eventually, you will recover and be able to resume your former job duty. Permanent injury means you will never get completely better, have reached a point of MMI (maximum medical improvement) and will not be able to return to work – and this can be based on your injuries and medical restrictions and whether there are jobs available that you can do even with severe restrictions, or have lost both arms, feet, legs, eyes, or the like.
Partial disability benefits are paid on the assumption that while you may not be able to do your former job at your full former level, you will be able to resume some gainful employment. Temporary partial disability means you are disabled for a specific period but will eventually recover. In this case, in addition to medical expenses, you will get 66 2/3% of your average weekly wages until you can work again.
Suppose your disability is permanent, which is defined as having permanent loss of a body member or permanent loss of the use of a body member, such as having a crippled hand or foot. In that case, you will receive benefits based on a scheduled award for a set number of weeks of benefits after you have returned to some type of work.
Death benefits include funeral and burial expenses, medical costs up to the point of death, and a portion of the wages of the deceased. They are paid to the surviving beneficiaries and dependents such as a spouse or children. This is similar to benefits paid in a wrongful death case, but again, they do not include pain and suffering and are paid through workers’ comp insurance. Thus, they do not consider fault.
Disfigurement refers to severe and permanent damage to the face, head, neck, or other body areas that are typically exposed. In DC, workers’ compensation law awards are limited to maximum compensation of $7,500.
Loss of income in the District of Columbia is paid at 66 2/3% of the injured employee’s average weekly wage (AWW) before taxes. It is also worth noting that workers’ compensation benefits are tax-free.
Medical care refers to all medical expenses and bills. This includes doctor’s office visits, medical procedures like surgery, medication, physical therapy sessions, transportation to medical appointments, and the cost of necessary in-home care like a home nurse. The right workers’ compensation attorney can help you to put together records regarding your medical needs so that you are completely covered.
Vocational rehabilitation refers to a situation in which a worker is physically capable of resuming work but cannot do the same job and has to be trained for new work. Workers’ compensation should cover the cost of this training.
In DC, the maximum benefit rate you can receive is $1,631.56 per week in 2022. Even if your 66 2/3% would be higher, your benefits still max out at this cap. This is, however, a much higher cap than is allowable in Virginia or Maryland. That is why speaking with a workers’ comp attorney with years of experience in these practice areas is essential to avoid critical and costly errors.
If your employer and the insurer accept your claim, you should start getting benefits within fourteen days. If they refuse your claim, you do not have to agree with their decision. Contact Donahoe Kearney at (202) 393-3320 or use our online contact form today for a free case evaluation.
An adjuster will work hard to limit how much you can receive. They might even try to deny your claim entirely. Some of the ways they might do this include:
The insurer may tell you to file your claim in Maryland or Virginia instead of in D.C. Because the benefits can be higher in the District, you can control your medical treatment (not the insurance company) and the law is usually more favorable for injured workers in D.C.
Signing a Medical Release
The insurance adjuster will try to get you to sign a release form that essentially allows them to get every medical record since birth – and they will try to use any prior injury or illness against you.
Sending You to a Workers’ Clinic
A workers’ clinic has one job, and that is to certify you are ready for work. They are not a doctor with your best interest in mind.
Sometimes, they will send you to a doctor on the insurer’s payroll. This doctor will look for reasons to state you are not injured or send you back to work before you are ready. This may even be a form of medical malpractice in severe situations.
If you were hurt at work, one of the first actions you should take is to seek out legal representation that will handle your claim and manage the insurance companies while you recover. Contact Donahoe Kearney online or at (202) 393-3320. There is no disclaimer or obligation, just a free and confidential case review, and we may be able to help fight for your rights to the benefits you deserve.
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