The rise of the workers’ compensation system in America more than 100 years ago was designed to protect both workers and employers. The system was designed so that injured workers obtain benefits for work injuries no matter the cause, while employers are shielded from lengthy and costly litigation. For workers, this means that even if their behavior contributed to the accident or injury, they are still able to obtain medical care and compensation through the system. In return, workers are not able to pursue a personal injury claim against employers,except in rare circumstances.
Basics for Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
There are some basic rules that guide the workers’ compensation system in Alaska. To obtain benefits, a worker typically:
- Must be an employee of the company. An employee/employer relationship must exist. In general, a person is an employee if there is a written or implied contract, the person is paid a specified wage or salary, or the work is dictated or controlled by the employer. Workers who are considered independent contractors may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Must have suffered the injury or illness in the course of work. A work injury can occur in any number of locations—in the office, on a job site, in the car traveling or on work errands, and in other places. As long as the injury was related directly to work activities, it is possible to obtain benefits. In some cases, employers may challenge a claim if they believe the injury was not caused at work or due to work conditions.
Exceptions to the No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Rule
While workers can generally obtain care and compensation regardless of fault, there are certain situations in which employers do not have to provide benefits. These include circumstances in which the employee is:
- Intoxicated or using drugs
- Commuting to or from work
An Experienced Attorney Can Help Protect Your Work Injury Claim
While a lawyer is not required to file a workers’ compensation claim in Alaska, it can be helpful. Employers and their insurance companies will often attempt to reduce or deny legitimate claims. They may dispute the worker’s status, question his injuries, and use any number of other tactics to reduce their own liability. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped other injured workers navigate this system, and he can help ensure that your rights are protected as well. He can help you obtain records, provide the right evidence to support the claim, negotiate with insurance, and be your voice if the claim is challenged. Even if you aren’t sure if you have a work injury claim, contact Ben today. Call his Anchorage office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to learn more about him, what he does, and how he may be able to help.