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 damages can I recover after an accident with a drunk driver?

    traffic yield sign with DUI and storm clouds behind itRecovering damages after an accident with a drunk driver is not very different from recovering damages after any type of crash. The main difference, however, is that after a collision caused by a drunk driver, you might also be eligible to recover punitive damages

    It is vital to seek compensation after a crash. The best way to do this is to hire a lawyer to negotiate a fair settlement or pursue compensation through a lawsuit.

    Damages After a Drunk Driving Crash

    As with any car crash where another driver is at fault, you might be able to pursue a lawsuit for economic damages, including:

    You might also be eligible for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering and emotional distress.

    In a drunk driving case, victims might also get punitive damages. These are not based on any tangible loss but are designed to punish the at-fault party who exhibited reckless behavior by making the decision to drive drunk. The amount of punitive damages awarded is often left up to a jury or a judge. According to Alaska law, there is a cap on the amount that can be awarded: three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. Alaska's split-recovery law requires that half of the punitive damages award goes to the state of Alaska for the general fund, which pays for government operations, basic services, and capital improvements.

    It's important to note that punitive damages will be taxed by the federal government. This money must be claimed on your income tax form as “other income.”

    Contact an Attorney

    If you’ve been injured after being in a crash caused by a drunk driver, you need to have an attorney on your side to help you recover damages. Even if it is obvious that the drunk driver caused the accident, you will still need to gather evidence to help with your case, and a vehicle accident attorney can help. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.

  • What are workers’ comp reemployment benefits?

    disabled worker in computer retraining classInjured workers in the Alaska workers’ compensation system who are unable to return to the job they were doing before their injury might be eligible to participate in a retraining program that provides them with the skills necessary to return to work at a wage level equal to at least 60% of their wages at the time of injury. Eligibility is determined based in part on the following criteria:

    • A medical provider predicts that you will be unable to return to the job you had at the time of the injury or to any job you performed ten years prior to your injury. This is usually because of a permanent disability.
    • Your employer does not have an alternative position for you.

    Benefits You Might Qualify for Under the Alaska Worker Retraining Program

    Reemployment benefits include costs for an evaluation of your abilities as well as tuition, study materials, a computer, and other items that might be necessary for training.

    Employees can waive their right to retraining and opt to receive a lump-sum dislocation benefit instead. The amount of the dislocation benefit is determined by the Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) rating.

    Why You Should Call a Lawyer About Your Workers’ Compensation Reemployment Benefits

    There are strict timelines when it comes to filing the paperwork for workers’ compensation Reemployment Benefits, and having an experienced attorney on your side can ensure you don’t miss deadlines and can move forward most effectively.

    At the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, we have helped many injured workers through the complex workers’ compensation process. Don’t risk being short-changed on benefits or missing out on Reemployment Benefits that can help you move on to the next stage of your life. Ben is a knowledgeable, effective advocate for injured workers, and he can help you figure out the best way to proceed. Call his Anchorage office today or fill out the contact form on this page to get in touch directly with Ben.

  • What is my car accident claim worth?

    negotiating a car accident settlementThere is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because every situation is different. However, an experienced car accident attorney will know how to put a value on your damages and can help you negotiate compensation with the insurance company.

    Factors That Matter With Your Car Accident Claim

    If you have been injured in a car accident, you may take legal action to get the compensation you deserve for the damages you have suffered. This usually includes both economic and noneconomic damages. The factors that will influence the amount of your claim include the following:

    • The severity of your injuries and the treatment required. If you are permanently disabled, this will impact the damages to which you are entitled.
    • The wages you lost. This will include the work you’ve missed because of your injuries as well as potential wages you may not earn if you cannot return to work in the future. 
    • The at-fault driver’s insurance limits. It can be difficult to collect more than the policy limits unless the driver has significant personal assets.
    • Whether you are partially at fault for the accident. Alaska uses the comparative negligence rule, which means that whatever your percentage of responsibility was for the accident, your damages will be reduced to reflect that.

    In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. This can happen in cases where the at-fault driver behaved recklessly or outrageously. If punitive damages are deemed to be appropriate in your case, there will be a separate court proceeding where they will weigh several factors. These include whether or not the defendant was aware their actions could cause serious harm and their attitude or behavior following the accident.

    You Need an Alaska Car Accident Attorney

    If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need legal representation to help you get the maximum damages. Even if you are partially responsible for the accident, you may still be entitled to compensation. For more information on protecting your rights and navigating the complexities of your claim, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.

  • Can I develop post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident?

    patient talking to therapist for PTSDThe trauma of a serious car accident can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that require treatment. If you are diagnosed with this condition, the person who caused your accident should be held liable for your treatment.

    What Is PTSD?

    PTSD is a psychological condition that affects people after they have been through a harrowing situation. It was initially referred to as "shell shock" in reference to the psychological struggle soldiers had upon returning home from World War I. Since then, it has become an official psychiatric diagnosis and is considered a form of mental illness.

    Any traumatic, frightening, or stressful experience can cause PTSD—and that includes car accidents, which can be disturbingly violent and gruesome. In fact, traffic accidents have become the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder since the Vietnam War. PTSD manifests differently in different people, making it a challenge to identify and treat.

    Symptoms of PTSD

    Car accident victims who suffer from this disorder might experience one or more of the following symptoms:

    • Avoidance. Victims don’t want to think about or talk about the traumatic event. They might not be able to drive or even ride in a car without having a panic attack.
    • Flashbacks. Car accident victims who develop PTSD often experience flashbacks to the crash, making it difficult to move on.
    • Behavior changes. People with PTSD might experience more intense emotions than they had prior to the event. This can also cause the person to have trouble sleeping.
    • Mood swings. Sufferers might suddenly feel depressed or even suicidal, even if they are not having flashbacks to the specific event. They might stop enjoying activities and avoid friends and family.

    Treatment for PTSD

    There are several treatment options for people diagnosed with PTSD after a car accident. These include different kinds of therapies, including cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing, as well as medication for depression and anxiety.

    Why You Need a Lawyer If You Have PTSD After a Car Accident

    Although your injuries might not be physical, you may still deserve compensation after a car accident. Calling an attorney after an accident can seem daunting, but an experienced lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected, and you are able to obtain appropriate compensation to get the PTSD treatment you need to live your best life.

  • How will a spoliation letter help my truck accident case?

    closeup of hand signing legal document or letter A spoliation letter is a notice that is sent to an opposing party in the aftermath of an accident that orders them to preserve all evidence that is relevant to the accident. The word “spoliation” refers to anything that jeopardizes evidence, including destruction, loss, alteration, or concealment.

    Details Included in a Spoliation Letter

    After an accident that involves a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle, a spoliation letter should be sent to the driver’s employer as soon as possible to put the company on notice that specific types of evidence must be preserved. After a trucking company receives a spoliation letter, the courts can be very harsh if the company is found to have destroyed or tampered with evidence. 

    Following are some of the pieces of evidence the spoliation letter should include:

    • Service logs kept by the driver to determine whether he was taking the number of rest periods required by law to help prevent fatigue
    • Data from on-board recording devices, which can identify the speed of the vehicle at the time of the crash and other driver actions
    • Records of inspections on the tractor and trailer
    • The truck driver’s personnel file, which will show his or her qualifications and whether he or she was fit to drive
    • Alcohol and drug testing results from the driver
    • The truck and trailer that were involved in the crash
    • Information involving the commercial vehicle and the freight it was carrying
    • Photographs and videos taken at the scene of the crash

    Contact an Experienced Vehicle Accident Attorney

    Don’t go it alone if you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident involving a semi-truck or commercial vehicle. In Alaska, attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many accident victims and their families tell their stories, and he can help you tell yours. Call his Anchorage office to set up a free, no-obligation consultation, or request his free newsletter, which will provide a variety of information to help you make the best decisions about your accident and injury claim.

  • What dangers do box and delivery trucks pose in Anchorage?

    box delivery truck driving into urban areaThey have become a common sight in most neighborhoods: delivery trucks bringing residents packages, groceries, and other items. With the increase in online shopping, there are now more delivery trucks on Anchorage roads than ever before. This means an increase in delivery truck crashes.

    Many Delivery Drivers Are Inexperienced

    Also known as box trucks, delivery vehicles can be challenging to drive—particularly for the inexperienced driver. Many businesses experience high turnover rates, so they often hire drivers with no prior experience. These high-profile vehicles are unstable and usually have a manual transmission, making them difficult to maneuver. Often drivers are in unfamiliar neighborhoods with pedestrians and cyclists as well as children playing, so distractions are everywhere.

    Causes of Box and Delivery Truck Crashes in Anchorage

    Some of the common causes of box and delivery truck accidents include:

    • Distraction. Delivery drivers who are looking at their GPS to find addresses, checking their personal messages, talking to a co-driver, or dozing off at the wheel put people at risk on busy local streets.
    • Speeding. Time is of the essence for most delivery drivers, so they may drive over the speed limit to finish their routes on time.
    • Sudden stops. Drivers who are looking for an address in an unfamiliar area might stop and start suddenly, causing a crash with the car behind them.
    • Illegal parking. Delivery trucks often block driveways or other vehicles, forcing moving cars to go around them and potentially into oncoming traffic.
    • Poor loading. If trucks are not loaded properly, this can throw off the balance of the truck, making it more difficult to drive.

    If you are involved in an accident with a box truck driver, you might be able to hold the driver and the driver’s company liable. Calling an attorney after an accident can seem daunting, but an experienced lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected, and you are able to obtain all the compensation you deserve when the crash was not your fault. Call Anchorage attorney Ben Crittenden to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.

    You can also request his free newsletter, which will give you additional information so you can make the best decision for your vehicle accident situation.

  • What are punitive damages in a personal injury case?

    computer keyboard with blue punitive damages keyYou may have heard the term 'punitive damages' but likely do not have a full understanding of what exactly punitive damages are or when they are appropriate. In fact, punitive damages are awarded to accident and injury victims in only a small percentage of legal cases. Typically, these cases are very serious. The person responsible for the accident or injuries must have behaved in an especially negligent manner to warrant punitive damages.

    Understanding Punitive Damages in Alaska

    In a personal injury claim, victims typically receive compensation for medical care related to their accident, as well as for lost wages and benefits. These are known as compensatory damages, and they are fairly tangible. It is a somewhat straightforward task to add up medical costs and evaluate the wages that have been and will be lost due to the injury. In certain cases, though, punitive damages are also awarded. Punitive damages are not tied to a specific loss. Rather they are intended to punish the responsible party and to deter similar reckless or malicious behavior. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases when the behavior of the at-fault person is deemed “outrageous” under state law. This means the behavior was done with malice or a clear reckless indifference to the safety of others. For example, a driver with multiple prior DUI convictions who again drives drunk and causes a serious crash could constitute this type of behavior.

    How Much Could Be Awarded in Punitive Damages?

    The amount of punitive damages is left up to a jury or judge’s discretion, though many states cap the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded. Alaska law states that these damages may not exceed the greater of either three times the amount of the compensatory damages that were awarded or $500,000. State law also sets a number of considerations to determine the appropriate amount, including:

    • The likelihood that harm would come to another person at the time of the act
    • The degree to which the defendant understood that likelihood
    • The duration of the action and any attempts to conceal it
    • Any financial gain the defendant hoped to reap from the action
    • The attitude and conduct of the defendant when discovered
    • The financial state of the defendant
    • Damages awarded to others in similar situations
    • The severity of the criminal consequences the defendant may be facing related to the action

    Tax Consequences of Punitive Damages

    It’s important to note that any compensation awarded as punitive damages would be subject to taxation by the federal government. It must be reported on an annual tax return as “other income.” This could have a significant impact on the taxes owed by the injury victim, so it’s important to discuss these consequences with an attorney and tax advisor.

    If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries in an accident caused by a person whose behavior was especially careless or malicious, it may be possible to pursue a claim that includes punitive damages. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and obtain all the compensation you deserve. Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many Alaska victims find the best way to move forward after a serious accident. Call Ben today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to speak directly with Ben and find out how he may be able to help.

  • What kinds of prescription medication can cause driver impairment?

    prescription drug bottles and pillsImpaired driving is most often associated with behavior that is against the law—drinking and driving or using illegal drugs. However, prescription and over-the-counter medications can also affect a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Even when approved by a doctor and taken appropriately, some medications affect drivers in a way that can cause dangerous car accidents.

    Prescription Drugs That Can Affect Driving Safety

    It’s important to note that medications can affect people very differently. Some drugs and dosages can impair one driver, while another driver may feel little or no effect at all. This is why all drivers should take extra care when considering driving after taking a medication. Some medications that can impair a driver’s ability include:

    • Allergy medication. Antihistamines and other allergy medicines block histamine release to help reduce the inflammation that causes allergy symptoms. This also works in the brain, however, and can lead to drowsiness
    • Antidepressants. While it is generally considered acceptable to drive while taking an antidepressant (such as Zoloft or Paxil), researchers have reported that these medications and the conditions that warrant their use can affect driving. The type of antidepressant, dosing level, age of the driver, and presence of depressive symptoms can increase the risk of impairment. Additionally, some of these medications also cause drowsiness.
    • Pain medication. Opioids are the most common medication used for pain management today. Drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine are effective in easing pain, but they also can be accompanied by a number of side effects that can impair driving. Sleepiness, nausea, difficulty breathing, and confusion are all dangerous behind the wheel.
    • Sleep aids. Many people use a sleep aid to help fall and stay asleep. While they can be effective in getting people to sleep, these aids can affect people the next day. The Cleveland Clinic specifically warns that being too drowsy to drive the next morning safely is a possible side effect. Used over time, these medications can also lead to memory problems and mental disorders, both of which increase the risk of car crashes.

    In addition to medicines prescribed by a doctor, the Federal Drug Administrations (FDA) warns that even over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies can cause reactions that jeopardize safe driving. Also, interactions between prescription drugs can impair driving ability. Drivers who do take medication should discuss the possible effects on driving with the doctor and pharmacist. All drivers have a duty to behave responsibly behind the wheel, and understanding how a drug may affect you is an important element of safe driving.

    If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a crash caused by an impaired driver, you have a right to be compensated. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many Alaska victims obtain the compensation they deserved after an accident. Call his Anchorage office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to learn more about who he is and what he does.

  • What does Alaska workers’ compensation cover?

    work injury claim form on white table with stethoscope and penMost Alaskans in the workforce have probably heard mention of workers’ compensation, but many might be unfamiliar with exactly what that means. Workers’ compensation is a benefits system that provides medical care and wage replacement to employees who have suffered an illness or injury on the job. Regardless of who was at fault for the injury, workers can apply for and obtain these benefits to help them recover as fully as possible.

    The Benefits Alaska Workers’ Compensation Can Provide

    When an employee is injured in the course of his work—in a car accident traveling for the job, in a fall at a job site, or in any other of the many common work-related accidents that occur every year—he may need time away from work to seek medical treatment and recover. While necessary, this can create a significant financial strain for the worker and his family. Workers’ compensation exists to help ease this burden and get employees back to their normal lives as much as is possible. Workers’ compensation provides compensation for:

    • Medical expenses related to the work injury. These expenses can include hospital stays, surgery, medication, rehabilitation, and more.
    • Wage replacement for income that would be lost when the employee is not physically able to work during his recovery or on an ongoing basis if the employee suffers a permanent disability.

    Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

    Alaska’s workers’ compensation system provides a number of different types of benefits to address the wide range of needs of injured workers. These benefits include:

    • Temporary total disability (TTD). Workers who are unable to work at all during their recovery from a work injury may collect TTD. These workers are expected to make a complete recovery and return to work.
    • Temporary partial disability (TPD). Workers who can return to work directly after an injury but cannot perform all their normal duties until they are fully recovered are eligible for TPD. These workers are also expected to recover completely.
    • Permanent partial impairment (PPI). For workers who have suffered a permanent injury such as an amputation or loss of use of a body part, PPI is paid in addition to temporary disability benefits.
    • Permanent total disability (PTD) Workers who can “no longer regularly and continuously work” because of their job-related injury, may qualify for PTD benefits.
    • Death benefits. Surviving dependent family members of a worker who dies as a result of his work-related illness or injury may collect death benefits.

    An Attorney Can Help If You’ve Been Injured on the Job

    If you or someone you love has suffered injuries on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The system can be confusing, however, and it does happen that claims can be discouraged by employers or even denied without cause. Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden helps Alaska workers understand their rights and obtain the compensation they need to recover. Ben provides experienced guidance to injured workers and their families to ensure their success moving forward. Call Ben’s office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to learn more about how he may be able to help.

  • What kinds of injuries cause Alaska truck drivers to seek workers’ compensation benefits?

    semi truck driver behind the wheel checking mirrorA 2017 study by the Insurance Information Institute (III) reported that heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers reported more than 47,000 injuries that year, ranking it second on the list of occupations with the most injuries.

    Injury Risks for Alaska Truck Drivers

    While driving a truck may seem fairly straightforward, the occupation does face a variety of injury risks. The main dangers include:

    • Repetition. Sitting for so many hours a day in the same position can be hard on the body. The constant vibration of the moving truck and the lack of movement can lead to serious back and neck problems. In addition, many drivers are responsible for some amount of loading and unloading cargo. Repeated bending, pulling, and lifting can cause muscle strain.
    • Vehicle crashes. Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and injury in the U.S., and even professional drivers are not immune to accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 170,000 injury crashes involving large trucks in 2017. Given the size and weight of a truck, these accidents can be serious, with drivers experiencing a wide range of injuries from lacerations and broken bones to traumatic brain injury and paralysis.
    • Loading and unloading. In addition to repetition injuries sustained loading and unloading a truck, there are other risks as well. Shifting cargo can fall during the process, striking the driver. Slips and falls are also common causes of injury at the loading docks.

    When a Work Injury Keeps Truck Drivers Off the Road

    Truck drivers are required to do a lot more than simply sit in a cab and drive. They are also required to do tasks such as loading, making repairs, unloading, and more. When an injury is sustained, it can have a significant effect on a driver’s ability to do his job properly and safely.

    • Muscle strains or other muscle conditions can prevent a driver from being able to sit upright, handle the bounces and jerks of a truck ride, and load/unload cargo.
    • Carpal tunnel can make it difficult to steer, shift, and operate vehicle systems promptly and effectively.
    • Broken bones from falls or crashes may make all of the tasks associated with driving and cargo work difficult or impossible.
    • Neck injuries can limit a driver’s ability to view his surroundings and identify changing road conditions as quickly as is necessary.

    When drivers experience these and other injuries, performing their jobs may not be possible, and it is likely necessary to seek medical care. This is where Alaska’s workers’ compensation system can help. This benefits system exists to provide medical care and compensation to employees who suffer injuries in the course of work. It provides the necessary medical treatment and financial support to help injured drivers make as complete a recovery as quickly as possible.

    An Experienced Alaska Workers’ Compensation Attorney May Be Able to Help

    While the workers’ compensation board is not a court of law, the decisions that are made are binding and can have a significant impact on the future of the injured workers and his family. When an employee is injured on the job, he needs and deserves the chance at as complete a recovery as possible, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help workers reach this goal. Anchorage-based attorney Ben Crittenden has helped other workers secure the care and compensation they needed. Working with clients and their families, Ben:

    • Explains workers’ rights
    • Prepares paperwork and locates documents
    • Helps file for benefits
    • Negotiates with insurance companies
    • Represents workers’ interests at hearings
    • Pursues personal injury claims when necessary

    If you or someone you love has suffered injuries on the job, you may be eligible for Alaska workers’ compensation benefits. Call Ben today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to get in touch directly with Ben and learn more about how he may be able to help.