Common Questions and Answers for Alaska Personal Injury Cases

With an emphasis on clear communication and prompt service, attorney Ben Crittenden works hard to provide clients the answers and encouragement they need to be successful. Get started here, and read Ben’s thoughts on some of the most common questions and concerns of Alaska
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  • How do I report a dog bite injury in Anchorage?

    aggressive dog ready to bite

    Even the sweetest dog is capable of biting under certain circumstances, as reflected in the millions of people who are bitten by dogs every year. Dog bite injuries can be bad enough to have significant medical and legal ramifications, so it’s crucial to take the proper steps if it happens to you.

    Reporting a Dog Bite

    You are required by law to report the dog bite to Anchorage Animal Care and Control by going online or calling 343-8119 to make a report. The animal responsible for the bite will need to be quarantined to be observed for signs of rabies. Filing a report can also help prevent future dog bites. Animal Control's investigation into the incident may provide useful details for your case.

    What to Do After a Dog Bite

    Notify the dog owner about the bite, but do not engage in conversation about your injuries or what happened prior to the injury. Exchange information, much as you would do after a traffic accident. Get their name and contact information. If there are any witnesses to the bite, get their contact information as well. If there is a lawsuit or insurance claim, this information will be crucial. Try to remember as many details of the incident as possible and write them down before you forget. This should include the type of dog, where the incident happened, what you were doing when it happened, and where the dog came from.

    If possible, take photographs of your injuries. As soon as you are able, stop the bleeding with a clean cloth and wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water. Use an antibacterial cream if you have it, then apply a sterile dressing. Keep the wound bandaged and see your doctor. Ask the physician about a tetanus booster and/or rabies vaccination.

    Contacting an Attorney

    Depending on the severity of the dog bite, you may need to contact an attorney regarding your injury. Insurance companies will do their best to pay out the least amount possible, and an experienced attorney can help with negotiations to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.

  • What are punitive damages in a personal injury case?

    computer keyboard with blue punitive damages keyPunitive damages are awarded to accident and injury victims in only a small percentage of legal cases. Typically, these cases are very serious, and the person responsible for the accident or injuries 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 pretty 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 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.

    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.

    Learn If Your Accident Case Could Involve Subrogation

    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 will my attorney determine the value of my car accident case?

    When you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, an experienced attorney can determine how much your car or motorcycle claim is worth.

    Types of Compensation

    When you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, you may be entitled to recover both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are intended to replace money you’ve lost due to the accident, while punitive damages are awarded to punish those responsible for your injuries. You may recover damages for:

    • Medical bills. You can be compensated for the treatment you’ve already received, and for anticipated future medical expenses. This may include hospitalization, diagnostic tests, surgery, medications, and physical therapy.
    • Property damage. The negligent driver is responsible for your vehicle repair or replacement costs, replacement costs for any other property that is damaged, towing expenses, and car rental fees.
    • Income loss. If you’ve missed work due to injuries sustained during your vehicle accident, or if you anticipate a loss of income in the future, you can recover compensation for your lost wages. You’re also entitled to reimbursement for any vacation and sick time you used while recovering from your injuries.
    • Pain and suffering. The injuries you’ve suffered in a vehicle accident may interfere with your ability to maintain a normal daily routine and engage in the activities you most enjoy. You may receive compensation for the physical and emotional pain you’ve already experienced, and might experience in the future.

    The Importance of Evidence

    After your vehicle accident, you’ll need to gather together as much evidence as possible. The more documentation you have of your injuries, the more likely you are to receive the compensation you deserve. Some of the evidence you may need to prove your case includes:

    • Police reports
    • Vehicle repair records
    • Medical bills and records
    • Proof of lost wages
    • Witness statements
    • Photographs of damage to your person and property

    You Need an Attorney

    Since your settlement range generally relies upon your medical condition, an experienced attorney will likely consider the extent and permanency of your injuries, the impact of those injuries on your life, and the amount and duration of any medical treatments that are required. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

  • Who is responsible for an accident caused by improperly maintained roads?

    Improperly designed, constructed, or maintained roads can lead to serious driving accidents and injuries. There are numerous defects that can make a road unsafe, including:

    • Improperly designed or maintained roads.
    • Inadequate lighting of the roadway.
    • Improperly graded curves and lack of a proper shoulder.
    • Potholes and harsh seams, ruts, or grooves in pavement.
    • Signage blocked by overgrown vegetation.
    • Insufficient guardrails or median barriers.
    • Lack of roadside warnings regarding known hazards.
    • Missing, poorly placed, or malfunctioning traffic signals.
    • Missing or broken guardrails.
    • Inadequate drainage that leads to water buildup on roads, creating a hydroplaning risk.

    Sovereign Immunity

    Under the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity, state and local governments are generally immune from civil lawsuits. There are exceptions, however. According to Alaska statute 09.50.250, if a governmental agency or employee has taken a lawful action that results in your being injured, that governmental agency may be held liable for your injuries. Damages resulting from a single injury or death are capped at $400,000, and punitive damages against the state are not allowed. However, if the action that ultimately results in your injury is unlawful, the governmental agency cannot be held liable. Only those individuals responsible for your injuries may be sued.

    You Need an Attorney

    If you’ve had an accident caused by poor road design or maintenance, you should report the accident to your own insurance company immediately. You can also pursue a claim against the government entity responsible for designing, building, or maintaining the road.

    Since claims against the government are frequently different from those asserted against private parties, victims of motor vehicle accidents caused by road defects need an attorney familiar with these types of claims. Other drivers, the local government, or the state government could be responsible for your injuries, and an experienced attorney can identify the proper parties to litigate against. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.


  • Will I have to testify in my personal injury case?

    If the defendant in your personal injury case denies liability, you may need to testify in order to establish the defendant’s negligence. You won’t necessarily have to testify in court, however. Most personal injury lawsuits that are filed are settled prior to trial.


    Provided that your case is resolved prior to going to trial, you will likely need to provide a deposition. This means that you will testify under oath, with a lawyer asking you a series of questions. Depositions are typically held at a law firm office with the attorneys, all parties to the lawsuit, and a court reporter in attendance. As with a courtroom trial, attorneys for both the plaintiff and defendant have the opportunity to conduct an examination, and object to any improper questioning. Since there is no judge present to rule on these objections, the objection is simply noted on the record.

    Depositions are used to gather information, including:

    • Learning about the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
    • Obtaining critical information about your case.
    • Assessing how an individual will testify at trial.

    Testifying at Trial

    Of course, some lawsuits don’t get settled. If there is a disagreement over who caused the accident or a dispute regarding the amount of compensation that is appropriate, there may be a jury trial.

    If you proceed to a jury trial, you may need to explain the injuries you have sustained to a jury. This is important, because if you fail to testify the jury will only hear the defendant’s side of the story. If there is insufficient evidence of the defendant’s negligence, the jury is unlikely to find in your favor. Thus, your testimony may be crucial to securing a favorable outcome for your case. No one can explain the pain and suffering you’ve experienced better than you can, so the jury needs to hear from you.

    You Need a Lawyer

    If you’ve been injured, you need the skilled representation of an experienced attorney. Whether you give a deposition or testify in court, your attorney can guide you through the process. Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.

  • What are contingency fees?

    Attorneys typically use several different methods to charge clients for their services. Sometimes lawyers charge a flat fee, a set price the client is required to pay. This is typical in the case of will preparation, for example. Other times, attorneys may charge an hourly rate, billing clients for each hour of work. Most personal injury lawyers use a third type of arrangement, known as the contingency fee.

    What Contingency Fees Are

    Attorneys and clients use a contingency fee arrangement in cases where the client has been injured, such as an automobile accident. The lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage of the client’s award, in lieu of being paid up front. This ensures that clients who otherwise could not afford access to the justice system can still receive representation.

    How Contingency Fees Work

    A contingency fee agreement will specify the conditions of payment, and spell out how much the attorney is owed. If you win your case, your lawyer’s fee is deducted from the money awarded to you. If you lose, you won’t have to pay your attorney for the work he has done on your case. A contingency fee agreement can motivate a lawyer to obtain the best possible settlement for his client, since his compensation is tied directly to the outcome of the case.

    Additional Expenses

    You may have extra legal expenses in addition to the fee you pay to your attorney. Some of these costs may include filing fees, hiring expert witnesses, service of papers, and paying for copies of medical records or police reports. These expenses typically aren’t high, but you’ll owe them regardless of the outcome of your case. Your attorney may cover these expenses upfront, in which case you’ll have to reimburse him.

    You Need an Accident Attorney

    If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t let concern over legal fees prevent you from pursuing the compensation you deserve. Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

  • If I’m injured in Alaska, how much time do I have to pursue my claim for damages?

    If you’re injured in Alaska, you generally must file a claim within two years from the date of injury. Should you fail to bring your case to court within this timeframe, you’ll likely be barred from filing it at all. This time limit on your right to pursue compensation is a consequence of Alaska’s civil statute of limitations.

    Purpose of the Statute of Limitations

    The statute of limitations was created to ensure that meritorious lawsuits are either filed within a reasonable period of time, or not at all. This way, evidence will be presented while it is relatively fresh, witnesses are still alive, and memories haven’t been clouded by time.

    “Tolling” the Statute of Limitations

    Under certain circumstances, fairness dictates that the statute of limitations must be delayed, or tolled, for a period of time. If the plaintiff is aware that an injury has occurred, but he is currently unable to pursue his case, the statute of limitations may be tolled. This typically occurs when the plaintiff is:

    • Under the age of 18.
    • Filing for bankruptcy protection.
    • Mentally incompetent when the injury occurs.

    The Discovery Rule

    Accidents sometimes lead to injuries that aren’t obvious right away, and it isn’t fair or reasonable to expect a plaintiff to file a lawsuit when he doesn’t know he’s been injured. The discovery rule mandates that the statute of limitations won’t begin until the plaintiff discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) the injury.

    You Need a Lawyer

    If you’ve been hurt in Alaska, you should seek compensation for your injuries right away. Calculating the precise amount of time remaining to pursue your claim can be complicated, since the law considers numerous factors and exceptions. Your attorney can help you determine if your case may still be filed within the applicable statute of limitations. To discover how these laws impact your case, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.


  • Should I contact an automobile accident attorney after a car accident?

    In many cases, you will benefit by retaining the services of a qualified car accident lawyer after being involved in an auto accident.

    Some insurance companies are advertising how quickly they respond to claims, suggesting that they are motivated by their goal of prompt customer service. This is not necessarily true. Insurance companies are in business to make money. They benefit by paying claims quickly so that the claimant will not hire an attorney and make the insurance company pay more in the long run. The unrepresented person is generally not familiar with personal injury law, has no experience negotiating the value of injuries, and therefore does not know what his car accident claim is worth. This all benefits insurance companies.

    In the event you and the insurance company cannot reach an agreement, the insurance company generally is not concerned unless a lawyer becomes involved. It is almost always a good idea to consult a lawyer—at least—before settling your car accident claim with the insurance company.

    Do you still have unanswered questions regarding your auto accident case in Alaska? Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Office of Ben Crittenden for a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options. Contact us!

  • Can I recover damages in an automobile accident case if the other driver didn’t have car insurance?

    Assuming the car you are driving in is insured, your auto insurance policy will most likely have an uninsured motorist provision, which means you may have a claim for uninsured motorist benefits under your own policy. Lawyers refer to this as a UM claim.

    If you make an uninsured motorist claim, your own insurance carrier has the right to use all defenses that the other at-fault driver may have had against you. An uninsured motorist claim therefore essentially creates an adversarial relationship between you and your own insurance carrier. This adversarial relationship with your own insurance company surprises many people and often creates the need for an attorney to become involved. Consequently, it may be wise to talk to a personal injury lawyer before making an uninsured motorist claim.

    Do you still have unanswered questions regarding your auto accident case in Alaska? Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Office of Ben Crittenden for a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options. Contact us!