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 does a 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 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 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 an injured worker’s own representation, 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.