Anchorage Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Serving Injured Workers in Anchorage, The North Slope, & Throughout Alaska
Alaska is home to many natural wonders and abundant resources. Every day, Alaskans work hard both harvesting those resources and sharing the beauty of the state with visitors from all over the world. Whether you are an oil worker on the North Slope, a sightseeing guide on the Inside Passage, a tour pilot flying over the state, or any employee providing vital services across Alaska, our workers face unique risks and challenges. The danger of suffering an on-the-job injury is real. Private industry employers in Alaska reported more than 7,000 work injuries in 2016 and 35 work-related deaths.
Getting injured or falling ill on the job can be a frustrating and stressful experience. When hard-working employees get injured, the consequences can be serious and long-lasting. Physical pain and financial pressure can feel overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know how to find the help you need. While the workers’ compensation system exists to help support injured workers, employers and insurance companies do not always play fair, and injured workers may need an experienced advocate to ensure they are able to obtain all the benefits they deserve.
At the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, Anchorage workers’ compensation attorney Ben Crittenden represents injured employees all over Alaska. Dedicated to providing personal, effective legal guidance, Ben can help you understand your rights and help you obtain all the compensation you deserve after a work-related injury.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system adopted by every state nationwide to help protect both employees and employers when a worker is injured or falls ill on the job. It provides medical care and wage replacement compensation for injured workers regardless of fault, and it shields employers from expensive and time-consuming litigation. This means injured workers are able to obtain the medical treatment they need and continue to receive some income, while employers can avoid personal injury lawsuits, with certain exceptions.
Common Causes of Work Injuries in Alaska
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to employees whose injuries are caused by the work performed for the employer, as well as to surviving family members of an employee who dies as the result of a work-related injury or illness. This can include injuries that occur at the office, on a jobsite, traveling on business, and more. Often, these injuries are caused by a single traumatic event, but they can also result from physical stress over time.
Some of the most common work injuries are caused by:
- Slips and trips
- Vehicle accidents
- Repetitive motions
- Machine entanglement
- Exposure to harmful substances
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 Alaska Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical expenses and provide wage replacement. Medical expenses can include any care related to the work injury, including medications, hospital stays, rehabilitation, travel to appointments, and more. Wage replacement benefits are divided into specific categories based on the nature of the injury.
They typically pay a percentage of the employee’s pre-injury salary and are divided into five main categories:
- 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.
What Jobs Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Any employer with more than one employee is required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees or self-insure, with a few key exceptions. This encompasses most employers and offers protection for the majority of Alaska’s workers.
It can be possible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained doing many types of work, though some of the most common jobs that cause injuries include:
- Oil exploration
Alaska Fishermen’s Fund & Fishing Injuries
That list of risky occupations is missing one major industry in Alaska—fishing. Commercial fishing tops the list of the most dangerous occupations every year, and the fishing industry in Alaska is no exception. According to state data, Alaska fisheries account for half of the total U.S. harvest volume, and the seafood industry is the largest private-sector employer in the state.
At work, fishermen face unique challenges. Unpredictable weather conditions, slippery surfaces, sharp equipment, long hours, and more create risks and often cause serious injuries. Injured fishermen, however, are exempt from state workers’ compensation and are instead covered by the Fishermen’s Fund. This fund provides for care of work-related injuries for fishermen in Alaska and Alaskan waters who hold a valid commercial fishing license or limited entry permit. Like workers’ compensation, certain steps must be taken to obtain these benefits, and an experienced attorney can help navigate the process.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Seasonal, Temporary, & Part-Time Workers
Workers’ compensation benefits are not just for full-time workers. Any employee who is injured in the course of employment can be eligible for benefits. This includes workers who perform seasonal jobs and those who may only work in Alaska temporarily before returning to their home state.
Work injuries can have a significant, long-lasting impact on injured workers and their families. Workers’ compensation benefits can help ensure that workers are able to make as complete a recovery as possible and remain financially stable. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury or illness on the job, contact The Law Office of Ben Crittenden to learn more about your rights and how Ben may be able to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
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 will 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 & 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 & 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.
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.