Alleviate Your Concerns With These Answers to Common Injury Questions

While some degree of uncertainty is inevitable, the stress of the unknown associated with a personal injury case can be frustrating. Here, experienced injury attorney Ben Crittenden draws from his years of experience and knowledge of the law to address many of the most common concerns and questions. Find out what to expect from the legal system, how long your case will take, what type of compensation you may be able to obtain, and much more. Don’t see your question? Reach out to Ben today! Take a moment to fill out our online contact form to find the answers you need.

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  • What is the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund?

    For most workers employed in the state of Alaska and around the country, a job-related injury would result in a workers’ compensation claim to obtain medical care and compensation to aid in the employee’s recovery. However, circumstances for seamen are a little different. Federal law dictates that fishermen receive work injury benefits under general maritime law and the Jones Act. Alaska, with its robust fishing industry, is the only state that offers additional benefits for injured seamen with the Fishermen’s Fund.

    What Is the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund?

    The fishermen’s fund “provides for the treatment and care of Alaska licensed commercial fishermen who have been injured while fishing on shore or off shore in Alaska,” according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The fund is considered a “payer of last resort,” which means benefits are provided only after other options (such as private insurance, vessel insurance, or government programs) are exhausted.

    These benefits are similar to those provided by workers’ compensation, but federal law prohibits injured seamen from utilizing the typical workers’ compensation system. Rather, they may pursue care and compensation under the Jones Act. In Alaska, the Fishermen’s Fund uses revenue collected from state fishing licenses and permits to finance medical benefits for injured seamen.

    Who Qualifies for Fishermen’s Fund Benefits?

    Eligibility for benefits from the Fishermen’s Fund is very specific. To receive aid from the fund, an injured seaman must:

    • Have an injury directly related to his work as a commercial fisherman
    • Hold a valid commercial fishing license or limited entry permit dated before the time of injury
    • Have been injured in Alaskan waters or onshore in Alaska
    • Receive medical treatment within 60 days of injury
    • Apply for Fishermen’s Fund aid within one year of the injury
    • Document each treatment through a medical note and submit the note to the state

    The Benefits of the Fishermen’s Fund and How to Obtain Them

    The Fishermen’s Fund can provide compensation for the costs related to the medical care and treatment of the fishing injury. These costs can include:

    • Doctor visits
    • Hospitalization
    • Prescriptions
    • Therapy
    • Chiropractic care
    • Transportation to and from provider appointments

    Injured seamen can file for aid from the Fishermen’s Fund by submitting an application and a number of supporting documents. The criteria for benefits are strictly followed by the state; any error/omission in applying or providing the proper paperwork would likely result in a denial of benefits. An experienced attorney can help injured seamen understand their rights and responsibilities, determine the proper channels to seek benefits, and ensure that the request is filed completely and on time.

    Contact an Experienced Alaska Work Injury Attorney

    Commercial fishing has been named by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Maritime injuries can be severe, and a lack of proper medical care can affect workers and their families for years to come. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries while working as a fisherman, you may be eligible to receive benefits from the state’s Fishermen’s Fund, and an experienced lawyer can help you fully understand your options. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many Alaska seamen and their families after a job-related injury. Call Ben today in his Anchorage office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. He can learn more about your situation and help you decide how to move forward most effectively.

  • What is subrogation?

    While negotiating with insurance companies or going to court may feel like the most overwhelming part of the legal process after a car accident, a victim’s journey may not end there. Once compensation is awarded, others may try to claim some of that money as their own. A third party may demand repayment of expenses related to your accident. Subrogation is one of the most common ways that accident victims can lose some of the injury compensation they need and deserve.

    What Is Subrogation?

    Subrogation means, in the legal sense, that one party claims the legal rights of another party. Typically a health insurance company claims the rights of the injured party in the following situation: When a person is injured, his own health insurance company may pay his medical expenses related to the accident. Later, when the victim receives accident compensation, part of that compensation would likely have been awarded to cover medical expenses. If the victim did not pay any out-of-pocket medical expenses because his own health insurance covered them, that money will go back to the insurance company. Otherwise, the victim is essentially paid twice—once when his own insurance company paid his medical expenses and again when the at-fault driver’s insurance settles the claim.

    Accident Victims’ Rights and Subrogation

    While subrogation is legal and insurance companies do exercise this right, it is still important for accident victims and their families to understand their own rights and ensure they are protected. An experienced attorney may be able to mitigate subrogation by working with the insurance company to anticipate the amount that may be subrogated. This way, they can potentially minimize costs, and they can consider that figure when negotiating with the at-fault’s driver’s insurance company or navigating litigation.

    It is also important to note that subrogation is not the same as balance billing, a practice in which hospitals seek payment from the patient after they agree to accept a discounted payment from insurance. Balance billing is illegal in a number of states but is practiced in Alaska.

    If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, you do have the right to be made whole through a personal injury claim. You deserve compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many injured Alaskans protect this right and secure the compensation they need to recover as fully as possible. Talk with Ben today to find out how he may be able to help you by calling his Anchorage office or filling out the contact form on this page.

  • How long does it take to resolve a workers’ compensation claim in Alaska?

    This is a natural question for injured workers. When you’ve suffered injuries on the job, you’re missing work, and the medical bills start showing up in your mailbox, you want to know how quickly you can receive benefits. How long will your workers’ compensation claim take? It’s impossible to say exactly, but there are a number of factors that can give you an indication of how soon your claim can be resolved.

    Factors That Affect the Timeline of an Alaska Work Injury Claim

    Simple, straightforward claims can be resolved quickly. Alaska law states that the employer or insurer has 14 days from notice of the injury to make the first payment. It is important for injured workers to notify employers of any injury as quickly as possible so that they may receive care and compensation benefits right away.

    However, other cases may take more time and require more work. Those scenarios could include:

    • The employer or insurer has denied your claim.
    • You are considering a settlement.
    • Your employer does not have the required workers’ compensation insurance.

    When Your Alaska Work Injury Claim Is Denied

    If your claim has been unfairly denied, it is possible to appeal that decision to the state’s board of workers’ compensation. The employer or its insurance company has three weeks to respond to an appeal. If they maintain their denial, the matter would have to be taken to a hearing. Preparations for a hearing could take time, depending on the severity of injuries and the availability of the board.

    Settling Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

    Settling a workers’ compensation claim is complicated, and the decisions should not be taken lightly. Once a settlement agreement is reached, it is extremely difficult to revisit the settlement to make any changes. A settlement may take time due to:

    • Recovery. In Alaska, a settlement can only be reached when the injured worker has reached medical stability. This means the injuries have healed as much as care providers expect. The nature of the injuries will dictate this timeline.
    • Investigation. An employer or its insurance company, as well as the injured worker’s lawyer, will have to conduct an investigation. This investigation will cover a wide range of information, from the initial accident itself to the future medical prognosis.
    • Negotiation. There will be some amount of back and forth with an employer or its insurance company. These businesses want to protect their own financial interest, and they will do what they can to save themselves as much money as possible.

    If Your Employer Doesn’t Have Insurance and Isn’t Self-Insured

    Alaska law states that every employer with more than one employee must either purchase private workers’ compensation insurance or self-insure, with very limited exceptions. Even if an employer has violated this law, injured workers can still obtain care and compensation through what is known as the Workers’ Compensation Benefits Guaranty Fund. To obtain benefits through the fund, an injured worker must file a claim.

    Obtaining the Care and Compensation Injured Workers Need

    It may be difficult to know from the start just how long a work injury claim will take. However, regardless of the timeline, the medical care and compensation provided by these claims can make a world of difference for injured workers and their families. An injury that keeps a worker off the job can have significant effects on his family, his lifestyle, and his future. Don’t take chances if you’ve suffered an injury on the job. Even if you aren’t sure if you are eligible for benefits or how long the process may take, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about your rights.

    At the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many injured workers and their families obtain the care and compensation they both needed and deserved. He can answer your questions and help you understand what to expect from the Alaska workers’ compensation system. He offers free, no-obligation consultations to help injured workers get all the information they need to move forward as successfully as possible. Call his office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to get in touch directly with Ben.

  • How do I know if an attorney is right for my injury case?

    You’ve suffered injuries in an accident, and you’ve made the important decision to find an attorney to protect your rights. But now what? How can you and your family know a lawyer is the right one for your case? Here, find some helpful tips and key questions to ask so you can feel confident that you’ve found the best legal advocate for you.

    Finding an Alaska Injury Attorney for Your Claim

    The first step is to simply find names of attorneys who might be able to provide the help you need. To do so, victims and their families can:

    • Ask friends and family. You may be surprised at how many friends, family members, or acquaintances have needed the help of an attorney. Ask around and get the opinions of people you know and trust.
    • Use the Bar Association. The Alaska Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service that can help you find lawyers near you who practice injury law. While they don’t provide reviews of their services, it’s a start.
    • Visit the local library. Many libraries will have a local law directory, which will contain information about local lawyers and their work.
    • Look online. A simple Google search can turn up attorneys in your area who can be contacted.

    Determining If a Lawyer Is Right for You

    Even when you find the name of an attorney, how can you know that he or she will be right for you? The easiest answer is to simply meet them and find out. Many injury attorneys offer a free, no-obligation consultation. At that time, you can obtain information that can help you make a decision about moving forward with your claim. Important questions to ask during this meeting include:

    • Can you develop rapport? The relationship between a victim and an attorney is important. Establishing trust and chemistry from the start will make the situation easier to manage as your claim moves forward.
    • Is the lawyer experienced in the area of your claim? There are a wide range of legal specialties. While an attorney may be able to take on an injury claim, it’s important that they have actually worked your type of case for other clients.
    • How easy was it to get in touch with them? And what is their communication policy going forward? Make sure this works for you.
    • What type of fee arrangement do they typically use? Most injury attorneys will work on a contingency fee basis, which helps accident victims access the representation they need with very little upfront costs. Make sure to find out what to expect regarding the finances.

    While there is no magic formula for finding the perfect attorney, some simple, specific inquiries can be immensely helpful. When you get a sense that the attorney is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and truly interested in helping you recover as fully as possible, he or she is likely the right lawyer for you.

    In Anchorage, attorney Ben Crittenden knows that the legal process can be daunting and the uncertainties from start to finish may feel overwhelming. He is dedicated to protecting the rights of Alaska accident victims and making sure their voices are heard. He has helped many other victims obtain the care and compensation they needed to move forward from their accidents. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries, contact Ben today. Call his Anchorage office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll reach Ben directly to have your questions answered.

  • What can I do if the police report about my accident is wrong?

    When the police are called to the scene of an accident, the responding officer will submit an official report to his department detailing the crash. This police report can be a very valuable tool during a car accident-related personal injury claim. It can also be damaging to the victim if the information is incorrect or, in your opinion, misrepresented. So, what options do accident victims have if they disagree with a police report?

    Addressing Factual Errors in a Police Report

    In some cases, the error in the police report may be a simple, factual error. Police officers are human, and they make mistakes. Perhaps the time of the accident was inaccurately reported, or a witness’s phone number was entered incorrectly. These small mistakes can matter to a case, and they can be changed fairly easily by contacting the officer. The officer can revise the report or include an addendum that notes the correct information.

    When the Police Report Error Is More Complicated

    In other cases, the misinformation may not be as straightforward. Perhaps the officer lists you as the at-fault party, which you dispute. Or a witness may have provided a statement you feel is inaccurate or incomplete. This is a gray area, and it can be more difficult to address. Contacting the officer may provide resolution, but if it does not, your options may be limited. You may write up your own version of events and submit it to law enforcement, asking them to attach your version with the police report. However, it is up to their discretion, and they may choose to ignore your document.

    Overcoming a Police Report Error

    In either case, the error may not be as devastating as you fear. Typically, a police report is not admissible as evidence in an accident claim. It is considered hearsay because the police officer did not actually witness the accident and is reporting only what was told to him by others.

    The report is, however, often cited by insurance companies when negotiating a settlement. At those times, it is important to gather and cite evidence that supports your claim of an incorrect police report. At those times, an experienced injury attorney can help provide strength and substance to your story to ensure that your voice is heard.

    At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many accident victims investigate, prepare, and navigate a successful injury claim. He understands how overwhelming the process can be, and he is here to help Alaskans obtain the justice and compensation they need to move forward after a crash. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, call Ben’s office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll get in touch directly with Ben, who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

  • Who is able to file a personal injury lawsuit in Alaska?

    A personal injury lawsuit is a legal claim that can be made after one person’s careless behavior causes harm to another person. Accident and injury victims are legally able to hold the person responsible for their injuries accountable for their actions. Personal injury claims are common after car accidents, when one driver fails to uphold his duty to operate his vehicle safely. Injury victims and their families may wonder, however, are they eligible to make a claim?

    Filing a Legal Claim After You’ve Been Hurt in an Accident

    Victims may pursue legal action against the person responsible for a car accident in which they sustained injuries or property damage. The state of Alaska expects drivers to behave like a “reasonable person” behind the wheel. This means that drivers are expected to behave in a safe and responsible manner and to take the same actions a reasonable person would given the same specific set of circumstances.

    In addition, the state has set forth a number of elements that must exist to mount a successful injury claim, including:

    • The defendant should have acted or refrained from acting (such as stopping at a stop sign or refraining from driving while under the influence).
    • The defendant failed in that duty.
    • That failure resulted in injury to the victim.
    • The defendant should have known that these actions could cause injury to another.
    • The victim suffered actual damages (property damage, medical bills, physical and emotional pain, etc.).

    Simply put, if you are involved in an accident as a driver, vehicle passenger, pedestrian, or a bicyclist that is another driver’s fault, and you have suffered some actual physical or financial injury, you are likely eligible to pursue a claim for damages.

    Filing a Claim on Behalf of Another Person After a Car Crash

    In some cases, it may be possible to file an injury claim on behalf of another person, even if you were not directly involved in the accident. This is possible when:

    • You are the parent or guardian of a minor injured in a crash. As the parent or guardian of a young person under the age of 18, you may be able to file a claim to secure the medical care and compensation the child may need to move forward from their injuries.
    • Your loved one died as the result of a crash. This is known as a wrongful death suit, and it is essentially a personal injury claim that the deceased could have filed had they lived. Any compensation from this type of claim would be awarded to the victim’s estate and handed down to the appropriate family members from there. Most typically, spouses and children are able to file this lawsuit.

    Filing A Personal Injury Claim Is Easier With An Experienced Attorney

    Even if you aren’t sure if you are eligible to file a claim, it can be helpful to discuss your accident with an experienced attorney. An injury lawyer can help you understand your rights in your unique situation and offer guidance on how to move forward most effectively. At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, attorney Ben Crittenden understands how difficult and confusing this time can be. That’s why he offers free, no-obligation consultations. Call Ben in his Anchorage office today, or request a free copy of his book, A Guide to Car Accident Claims in Alaska, to learn more about your legal options.

  • What should I do if I have been hurt in a t-bone accident?

    car showing damage caused by side impact crashAccording to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were nearly 1.2 million collisions causing injury across the U.S. in 2015. That’s more than 3,000 injury crashes a day. While some may regard a side impact crash as less dangerous than others, these accidents pose unique dangers to drivers, passengers, and all those who share the roadway.

    What Is a Side Impact, or T-Bone, Crash?

    A side impact crash is often referred to as a t-bone crash because of the nature of the accident. It occurs when the front of one vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle, effectively looking like the letter “t.” While a t-bone crash can occur in a variety of situations, they most often result when:

    • A driver runs a red light
    • A driver runs a stop sign
    • A driver fails to yield to a another making a left turn

    How T-Bone Crashes Pose Unique Risks

    Today’s vehicles seem safer than ever, with increasing technology to notify and safeguard drivers and passengers from dangers. While side impact protection provides a fairly effective defense, the side of the car is simply not as strong as the front and rear, and side windows can shatter. Side impact car accident victims can experience:

    What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt in a T-Bone Crash in Alaska

    As with any other type of crash, it’s important to assess injuries right away and take action if you or someone else requires immediate medical care. If you are well enough to remain at the scene, try to preserve as much evidence as possible by:

    • Calling the police, who will file an official report
    • Taking a photo of the accident scene before the cars are moved
    • Taking a photo of the intersection or roadway of the accident
    • Noting the exact time of the accident
    • Noting names and phone numbers of witnesses to the accident

    Finally, calling an experienced injury lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected. While you may think that the blame for the crash is clear, opposing lawyers and insurance companies will try to undermine your claim. An attorney can help investigate your accident and retain all the evidence that will support a legal case.

    If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a t-bone accident, you may need medical care and time away from work. Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden understands your situation and has helped many accident victims just like you obtain the compensation they need so they could get back to their lives. Call Ben today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to reach Ben directly. Set up a free, no-obligation consultation and learn more about how he can help.

  • How are pain and suffering measured after a car accident?

    older woman holding her hand to her head in painAfter a car accident, some of the losses to the injury victim are clear. Property damage, medical bills, and lost income can easily be demonstrated and added up. Insurance companies and the courts can clearly see what the victim has lost. There are often other damages, though, that are not so tangible. These non-economic damages include what is known as pain and suffering. The courts recognize that accident victims can experience damages that may not be visible, and the law allows for compensation for these important and serious matters.

    What Is Pain and Suffering?

    Pain and suffering refers to the mental and physical distress that a person experiences during and after an accident. It includes physical pain, as well as mental and emotional injury—responses such as insomnia, fear, grief, worry, and loss of enjoyment.

    Factors That Affect Pain and Suffering Compensation

    Car accident victims may experience their injuries and navigate their recoveries differently, but some common factors are considered when determining compensation. These include:

    • The severity of the injury
    • The amount of pain typically associated with the injuries
    • The impact of the injuries on your daily life (including both work and hobbies)
    • Expectations for recovery
    • The type of medical treatment required

    Proving Pain and Suffering After an Accident in Alaska

    Because these types of injuries are not easily quantifiable, it can be difficult to prove the toll the accident has taken on a victim’s life. To prove pain and suffering, it is often necessary to provide:

    • Medical records
    • Statements from treating care providers
    • Testimony from family and friends
    • Statements from mental health professionals
    • Personal journals detailing recovery journey

    Is Your Pain and Suffering Compensation Fair?

    A car accident can take a serious toll on many aspects of your life, not just your physical health. Accident victims deserve compensation for the pain and suffering they endure when a careless driver causes an accident, and an experienced attorney can help ensure that victims obtain what they need. In Anchorage, attorney Ben Crittenden understands that an accident victim’s journey is only beginning at the moment of the crash, and he is here to help you and your family address all your physical, emotional, and financial needs through the law. Even if you are unsure of your rights, reach out to Ben today to learn more. Subscribe to his free newsletter to receive helpful information and insight into accident claims, or call his office to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.

  • How are workers’ compensation attorneys paid in Alaska?

    Workers often have the same main concerns after some condition at work has left them injured or ill. First, how can they recover as completely and quickly as possible? And second, how will they pay their bills and maintain their financial stability during recovery? These are important and valid concerns, and injured workers and their families may need help finding the right answers. It can be difficult, however, to know where to find these answers, and too often, injured workers fail to seek legal advice because they are worried about the cost of an experienced and effective lawyer. A good attorney can be affordable, though. Here we explain how a workers’ compensation attorney is paid.

    A Fee Agreement That Protects Injured Workers

    Most workers’ compensation attorneys, including Anchorage attorney Ben Crittenden, use an agreement known as a contingent fee. A contingent fee means clients only pay if the case is successful. If the attorney does not get compensation for the injured worker, the worker owes the attorney nothing. If the case is successful, the attorney is paid directly from the award provided by the insurance company. The injured worker does not have to reach into his own pocket to provide a retainer nor or to pay for other work the attorney does on his behalf leading up to the decision by the workers’ compensation board. At times, there may be nominal fees, such as filing fees, incurred by the worker as the claim progresses.

    While some attorneys charge a percentage of the award, attorney Ben Crittenden charges on an hourly basis. If the claim is successful, Ben will bill his client only for the time he spent on the claim. All details of billing and payment will be clearly explained by Ben when you meet to discuss your case.

    The Cost of Not Hiring an Alaska Workers’ Compensation Attorney

    While the thought of paying an attorney may be unappealing, the cost of NOT hiring an experienced lawyer may be even greater. Workers’ compensation benefits provide vital medical care and compensation that injured workers and their families rely on during a difficult time. Your employer and their insurance company will likely attempt to reduce their own liability or deny your benefits altogether. If you have been injured or fallen ill on the job, you need these benefits. Without an experienced advocate in your corner, you may miss out on the care and compensation you deserve.

    Additionally, while this is not a court of law, the decisions of the state workers’ compensation board are binding, and it can be incredibly difficult to change their decision once it is handed down. Get the help you need right from the start. Call Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page today. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and learn more about your rights.

  • Who can file a wrongful death claim when someone dies in an accident?

    funeral flowers wrongful death alaskaOn average, six people are killed in car crashes in Alaska every month. In 2017, the state saw 79 vehicle accident-related deaths. For the families of those killed, life is forever changed. Not only do they have to navigate the grief and sadness of losing their loved one, but many families are faced with new and stressful financial burdens. Whether the deceased family member was the main breadwinner or the one to provide childcare, their contributions to the family’s way of life were important. What are surviving family members to do? How can they successfully face this challenge so they can focus on what really matters? For many families, the answer is a wrongful death lawsuit.

    What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

    A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim brought by the surviving family members of a person who is killed by another person’s negligence. When an irresponsible driver causes an accident that results in the death of another person, they can be held accountable. Surviving family members may be able to obtain compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company for:

    • Medical and funeral expenses
    • Lost wages that would have been earned by deceased
    • Loss of spousal or child support
    • Lost companionship or consortium
    • The victim’s pain and suffering

    Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Alaska?

    A wrongful death claim can be filed by any personal representative of the deceased. Though it is most often filed on behalf of the spouse and/or children of the deceased, state law does not limit these claims to only those relations. Compensation can be awarded to:

    • Spouse
    • Children
    • Other dependents
    • The estate of the deceased

    A dependent is a person who is supported by the deceased, and it may include parents or other family members. Non-dependent family members or the estate itself may pursue a claim, but the award is limited to monetary loss—there is no compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

    An Experienced Injury Alaska Attorney Can Answer Your Questions

    Not only is the loss of a loved one devastating, family relationships can be complicated. If your loved one has died in a car accident, it may be difficult to know just what your rights may be. At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, this Anchorage-based attorney has helped many loved ones understand their legal options and obtain all the compensation they deserve. Even if you aren’t sure if you are able to file a claim, reach out to Ben today. Call his office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll get in touch with Ben directly, and he’ll help you determine the most effective way forward.