When you file a claim or petition before the Alaska Workers Compensation Board, you are entitled to a hearing and you are entitled to a decision.
Generally the Board will send out a prehearing notice following the filing of a claim or petition. The purpose of the prehearing is to determine that everyone understands on what the dispute is and how to go forward. Frequently the insurance defense attorney will show up and argue that you are wrong and not entitled to what you asked for. If the issue is a protective order that you requested regarding a discovery dispute, you need to explain the reasons why you think you are entitled to the protective order. The Board designee will make a decision and issue that decision in written form in the body of the prehearing conference summary which will be mailed to you.
If you disagree with the designee’s decision, you can file for a hearing. The procedure should be explained in the prehearing conference summary.
On all other matters, you are entitled to a hearing in front of the Board. Take note of what the insurance attorney is saying. Sometimes they will give you their entire case at the prehearing, which gives you an idea of what evidence you need to collect to prove your case and disprove their defense.
Twenty days after you file a claim or petition, you can file an affidavit of readiness for hearing (assuming you are ready). A prehearing will be set so that the Board, the insurance defense attorney and you can agree upon a date for the hearing. In the prehearing conference summary, there will be a schedule telling you when to file and serve your hearing brief, witness list, and evidence.
At the hearing, the Board may keep the record open for additional evidence or briefing. Otherwise the record closes at the hearing.
Thirty days after the record closes, the Board is supposed to issue a decision. The decision will be mailed to you and posted on the Board’s website. So what if the Board doesn’t issue a decision on time? What can you do?
You can remove the case to Superior Court. The first step in removing the case is filing a notice with the Board informing them of your intent to do so pursuant to AS 44.62.305. You must file this notice 30 days before you file the action in Superior Court. The requirements set out in the statute need to be met in the notice. If you are handling the case yourself, you can access the statutes and regulations at the courthouse library or on-line at the court’s website.
Keenan Powell has practiced Workers Compensation law in the State of Alaska for over 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans handling hundreds of cases. www.keenanpowell.com.
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