Workers’ compensation has existed in the U.S. in different forms for more than 100 years, but many employees don’t understand what workers’ compensation provides and whether they are covered. In Alaska, our workforce is tough and dedicated, and workers may hesitate to apply for benefits through the system for a variety of reasons. Often, a lack of information can prevent injured workers and their families from receiving what they deserve. Here, find out more about Alaska workers’ compensation and what it might mean for you.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system of benefits that operates much like health insurance. Most of Alaska’s employers are required to carry this insurance to cover their workers. When an employee suffers a job-related injury or illness, these benefits provide medical care and lost wage benefits. If an employee dies due to a work accident, injury, or illness, workers’ compensation can also provide survivor benefits to the worker’s dependent family members.
Why Would Alaska Provide Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
While each state operates its own workers’ compensation system, federal law does require that a system be in place to protect both employees and employers. Prior to the rise of workers’ compensation, work injuries were dangerous and costly for everyone. Workers faced difficult work conditions, and an injury could result in serious financial and personal hardship. For their part, employers were often faced with time-consuming and costly legal action when an employee suffered an injury. Workers’ compensation offers a mutually beneficial arrangement—workers are able to obtain medical care and compensation for lost wages and other expenses, while employers are typically shielded from litigation.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?
The workers’ compensation system provides two main benefits after a work-related injury:
- Medical care. Employers are required to cover all approved medical expenses related to a work injury. This can include doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgery, medication, rehabilitation, adaptive equipment, and much more.
- Compensation. Many times, employees are forced to miss work after an injury, resulting in lost wages. Compensation provided through the workers’ compensation system can cover lost wages, funeral expenses, disability, impairment, and more. Compensation can take many different forms, depending on the nature and severity of the injury.
Who Is Eligible for Benefits in Alaska?
Alaska’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits to nearly all the state’s workers. Some limited exceptions include federal workers, volunteers, part-time babysitters, and some other workers. Even if you aren’t sure if you are eligible, it’s worth investigating. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights quickly and often at no cost to you.
Alaska’s Fishermen’s Fund
The main exception to workers’ compensation in Alaska comes in the form in one of the state’s biggest industries. Injured fishermen would pursue benefits form the Fishermen’s Fund rather than the workers’ compensation system. While similar, the Fishermen’s Fund is a separate entity. An attorney can also help injured fishermen navigate that system to obtain the necessary benefits for as complete a recovery as possible.
How to Obtain Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Many injured workers and their families find the workers’ compensation system daunting. Often, they have little experience with the system or worry their injuries do not warrant benefits. Physical pain and financial strain can affect a worker and his family for years, however, so it’s important to take action to protect your future. If you’ve suffered an injury on the job, seek medical care as soon as possible. Your health is of the utmost importance.
Next, notify your employer of the injury. In Alaska, employees are required to provide written notice of an injury or illness within 30 of the injury or when they think they may have a job-related illness.
Finally, call an experienced attorney who can help you ensure that your rights are fully protected. While workers’ compensation is outside the legal system, the decisions made by the state board are legally binding, and they can have a significant impact on your future.
At The Law Office of Ben Crittenden, attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many injured workers obtain the care and compensation they need to be successful after an injury. He is here to help you understand your rights and pursue the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.