Who is “Workers Comp”?

Workers Compensation is a whole new world and if you’ve never dealt with it before, you might feel like you just fell into the Land of Oz.

Many Employees that I meet think that they have been dealing with the Workers Compensation Board when actually they have been talking to an adjuster for an insurance company. So when the adjuster tells them something like"Workers Compensation will not pay for that surgery", the Employee believes that it’s the law that is preventing them from getting the surgery whereas the truth is that it’s an insurance company trying to increase it’s profits by denying the Employee’s benefits.

So who is "Workers Compensation"?  The Division of Workers Compensation is a part of the State of Alaska’s Department of Labor.  http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/home.htm.   It has a director in Juneau and offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.   In each of the offices, there hearing officers who manage the files.  In the Anchorage office, there are legal technicians who are available to talk to injured Employees.  If a case goes to a hearing, it will be decided by Board members of which there are three: a hearing officer who is an employee of the Division, and two members of the public appointed by the governor.  One of the members is from labor and one is from management.   These are the people who decide what an Employee’s rights are.

There is usually an insurance company involved in your case because all employers in the State of Alaska are required to carry workers compensation insurance unless they are approved as self-insured employers.  If they are self-insured, they will hire an adjusting firm to handle the files.  The adjuster does not work for the State.  The five largest insurers in Alaska are: Alaska National, State of Alaska, Liberty Northwest, Commerce & Industry, and Liberty Insurance.  http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/forms/2011AR.pdf.

It is important to remember that when you are talking to someone from the insurance company, they do not speak for the Board.  They represent the insurance company who pays their salary and their job is to save the insurance company money.   The adjusters have orders from the supervisors on how to handle claims, they have very little discretion.  So there is no point in arguing with them.

If you have any questions regarding your case, you can go to the Workers Compensation office and talk to a legal technician and you can consult with an attorney.   The Law Office of Keenan Powell provides free consultations regardless of whether or not you have been controverted.   To contact Keenan Powell, use the contact form on this page or call 258-7663.

For more information about Workers Compensation, see:  http://www.keenanpowell.com/faq-wc.html.