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Superior Court, District Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court judges get picked by the Governor and then the run for retention in the general elections.

When a bench opens up, interested attorneys send their name into the Alaska Judicial Council. The Council sends out a questionnaire to the members of the bar and the attorneys grade the applicants and make comments.  The highest graded applicants are then interviewed by the Judicial Council and the Council then sends a list of names to the Governor.  There is an opportunity for public comment before the names are sent up. The Governor can pick a name from the list or reject the entire list but s/he cannot appoint someone is not on the list.

(Magistrates and Masters, however, are state employees.  They apply for the job and go through the same process any other employee would.)

Periodically, the judges run for retention.  In my 30 years, I've never heard of a judge who lost the election after the Judicial Council recommended retention.  However, from time to time, judges do lose the election and that's because, usually, that judge has made a lot of people mad.  Mad enough to make sure everyone knows to vote against the judge.  In addition, there are people who may be following the Council's recommendation.  Attached is this year's recommendation:

http://www.ajc.state.ak.us/retention/retent2014/pr1recommend.pdf

 

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When you are looking for an attorney to help you with your workers compensation case, there are a few things you need to know:

 

First, some attorneys require payment for review of your case.  It is ethical for an attorney to charge up to $300 as an on-time-only charge if the attorney does not enter the case.

 

Second, it is illegal for an attorney to require a retainer (up front money) to secure payment of his fees.  An attorney can, however, ask the client to front costs.  Most attorneys do this on a case-by-case basis.

 

Third, when you are considering attorneys to hire, look at their track record.  Have they been practicing Workers Compensation for a number of years?  Have they always represented Employees or have they been an Employer’s attorney.  If the attorney previously was an Employer’s attorney, you would be right to believe that s/he would have insight into that mind set.  However, you have to ask yourself, why did this person change who s/he is working for?  Was it a cataclysmic change in a belief system?  Or are you in danger of hiring someone with an attitude that most Employees don’t deserve benefits.

 

Fourth, ask whether the attorney has had experience in a case similar to yours.  Is the insurance company is claiming you didn’t notify them of the injury timely or is the insurance company claiming that your injury is not work-related?  Is it a shoulder case, knee case, back or neck case, or hearing loss, carpal tunnel or some other degenerative injury?  Is the attorney comfortable dealing with the issues that may be raised depending on your particular injury?

 

Keenan Powell has practiced Workers Compensation law in the State of Alaska for nearly 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans for the past 9 years handling hundreds of cases.  A sample of verdicts she has obtained for Employees is found at  http://www.keenanpowell.com/settlements_wc.html.

 

There is absolutely no fee for a consultation, all consultations are free.  If you want to set up a meeting, use the contact form on this website or call:  907 258 7663.

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What do you do if the health care provider’s office doesn’t or won’t bill the Workers Compensation insurance claim, or does and the insurance company doesn’t pay the bill and the provider’s office is billing you, calling you, for the money?

 

It’s illegal for a health care provider to charge an injured worker.  AS 23.30.097(f) states unequivocally:  “An employee may not be required to pay a fee or charge for medical treatment or service provided under this chapter.”

 

So what? What happens to a health care provider who continues to charge an employee for treatment as the result of a workers compensation injury? So you report the provider to the State of Alaska Consumer Protection Unit, http://www.law.state.ak.us/consumer/.At its website, the State of Alaska provides a complaint form for you to fill out and mail or fax to the Attorney General’s Office.  http://www.law.state.ak.us/department/civil/consumer/cp_complaint.html. There are instructions on how to do fill out the form and where to send it.

 

What will the Attorney General’s Office do?  They’ll send a copy to the offending provider and ask for a response.  At that point, the provider may realize what he is doing is illegal and will agree to stop hounding you for the bill.  If not, the Attorney General may proceed with a prosecution against him which means he will incur not only legal fees but may be fined.

 

The problem isn’t the doctor, it’s the biller. Any more, most doctors hire outside billing agencies who don’t understand and don’t want to learn Alaska law. In the event you hire an attorney to pursue a Workers Compensation Claim on your behalf, your attorney should deal with these issues for you.

 

If you have questions about your workers compensation claim, call my office.  I have more than 30 years experience fighting for the rights of injured Alaskans. Consultations are FREE.  Call 258-7663.

 

 

 

bigstock-Silhouette-1113353The Alaska legislature passed a body of laws named the Alaska Workers Compensation Act upon statehood, which has been modified from time to time.  The purpose of the Act is to provide the "quick, efficient, fair and predictable" delivery of benefits to the injured workers at a reasonable cost to the employers. AS 23.30.001.  Workers Compensation claims differ from a personal injury insomuch as in Workers Compensation, the injured worker does not have to prove that someone was negligent and caused his or her injuries.  In fact, an injured worker can draw benefits even if he caused the injuries to himself.

Workers Compensation and personal injury differ also in what kind of benefits you can obtain.  In personal injury cases, you are entitled to lost wages (calculated at your net), past and future medical costs, and past and future pain and suffering.  In Workers Compensation, you don't receive compensation for pain and suffering. Ever.  But you do receive compensation for you lost wages (calculated according to tables on the Alaska Workers' Compensation Board website), medical benefits for as long as you need them which are reasonable and necessary to treat your injury (which sometimes may be for the rest of your life), possibly a permanent partial impairment rating and possibly retraining benefits.

If you are injured at work as the result of someone else's negligence, you may be able to draw both Workers Compensation benefits and pursue a personal injury claim.  You cannot pursue a personal injury claim against your employer or any co-workers but you can pursue the claim against persons who caused your injury who are not your employers or co-workers.  This is frequently the case if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident while working.

The Law Office of Keenan Powell provides free consultations for Workers Compensation claims regardless of whether or not you have been controverted.  Consultations for personal injury cases are free as well.  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.

Frequently, an employer thinks he can avoid a Workers Compensation claim by refusing to provide the injured employee with the name of his insurance company and the appropriate forms to fill out.  But that won't work.

All employers are required to carry workers compensation insurance.  And if they fail to do so, a fund has been established by the State of Alaska to pay benefits to injured workers.

If you want to know if your employer carries workers compensation insurance, you can check that out on the Alaska Workers Compensation Board's website:  http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/home.htm.  

On the right of the home page is a menu. Click the link that states "Online Employer Coverage Verification Service" and follow the prompts.  You will be provided with the name of the insurer responsible on your date of injury and contact information for that company.

If your employer has failed, or refused, to provide you with a Report of Injury form, you may obtain that on the same website.  On the home page, click on the "Forms" link and pull up the Employee Report of Injury to Employer, Form 7-6100.  Or you can print use the attached form, EE ROI Form 6100.

You need to fill the form out, give a copy to your employer, a copy to the insurance company and you should file a copy with the Alaska Workers Compensation Board, 3301 Eagle St Ste 304, Anchorage, Alaska.  If you live near Fairbanks or Juneau instead, the local AWCB office addresses are posted on its website.

As always, you should keep a copy of the Report of Injury for your files.  You should keep a copy of everything that has anything to do with your injury in your files: any and all correspondence from the insurance company and the Workers Compensation Board, and all bills from your treating health care providers.

bigstock-Silhouette-1113353Sometimes the insurance company will deny a claim on the grounds that the injured employee did not timely report the injury to his employer.  Failing to report the injury does not mean its barred.  It means the insurance company doesn't want to pay your benefits and you will have to file a Claim with the Alaska Workers Compensation Board to obtain your benefits.

The Board will order the insurance company to pay benefits even if the injury is not reported within 30 days in a number of circumstances.  One reason, discussed earlier in this blog, is if the Board finds that the insurance company and employer were not prejudiced by the late notice.

Another reason the Board will excuse late notice is called the "discovery rule". Sometimes a worker can be seriously injured, especially common in back injuries, and not feel anything painful at the time of the injury.  As his back starts to hurt, he hopes that its just a strain and it'll go away by itself.  But ,the nature of serious back injuries is that they tend to get worse over time so after weeks have passed, he realizes that there is something very wrong and he goes to the doctor.  And the doctor tells him he has a slipped disc or a herniated disc or an annular tear.  He reports it to his employer, who reports it to the insurance company, who denies the claim because it was not timely filed.

This fact pattern comes up regularly in workers compensation.  And regularly the Board sides with the injured worker.

If this has happened to you, you need to hire an experienced Workers Compensation attorney.

If you have any questions regarding your case, 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.

 

bigstock-Silhouette-1113353Alaska law requires an injured employee to report his injury to his employer within 30 days.  AS 23.30.100.  If the employee fails to report his injury timely, his failure to do so can bar his claim.  That means that he won't get any benefits.  That is the general rule.

There are exceptions.  The first exception is when the Alaska Workers Compensation Board determines that the employer was not prejudiced by a delay in reporting the injury. AS 23.30.100 (d)(1).  This means you have to go to a hearing and get a ruling.

When is the employer prejudiced by late notice?  If he is unable to investigate the circumstances of the injury because of the delay, if he is unable to investigate prior medical conditions of the employee because of the delay, if evidence is lost or witnesses disappear.

If the insurance company refuses to pay your claim because it says that you failed to give notice, that isn't the end of your claim.  It's the beginning of your fight.  Meet with an attorney and explain the reasons why you gave late notice.   "Lack of prejudice" is just one of a number of reasons for which the Board will excuse failure to give timely notice.

For more information, see http://keenanpowell.com/faq-wc.html.

Keenan Powell has more than 30 years experience representing injured Alaskans.  For a free consultation, call the Law Office of Keenan Powell: 907 258 7663.

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Can you pursue a personal injury claim when you get hurt at work?  The answer is: sometimes.

As a general rule, you do not have a personal injury claim against your employer or a co-worker.   Nor do you have a choice as to whether to pursue a personal injury claim instead of a workers compensation claim.  The Alaska Legislature passed a law taking that right away from you.  It's reasoning is that it's better for everyone, the employees and employers alike, to provide workers compensation rights instead of personal injury rights.  Its better for the employee because you can collect benefits even if the injury is your fault, even if you can't prove how the injury happened, even if no one was negligent.  In all those circumstances, you would lose a personal injury claim.  Workers Compensation is also better for the employee because the process is much faster and dependable.  It's better for the employer because he will have insurance to cover the employee's benefits and because he knows he won't be hit with a huge verdict that could bankrupt him and put him out of the business.

But that is just the general rule.  There are many exceptions.  One common exception is if you are in a car accident that is someone else's fault and that someone is not a co-employee.  In that case you can collect workers compensation AND pursue a personal injury claim.

You have the same rights if you were injured on someone else's premises (not owned by your employer), such as slipping and falling on ice.  Even if you slipped at fell at your workplace, if someone other than your employer owns the building, then you can collect workers compensation AND pursue a personal injury claim.

If you have any questions regarding your case, 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.

 

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Some insurance companies provide an "prescription card" to the injured worker to facilitate the filling of prescriptions.  The injured worker is then required to go to one of the pharmacies which accept the card, present it and, in theory, the prescription would be filled immediately.

It doesn't always work.   Frequently the pharmacist will tell the injured worker that the prescription must be "pre-approved" by the insurance company and that it called for authorization. This means waiting 3 days or more to get the prescription filled.

Then the injured worker calls the insurance company to complain and is told that the insurance company does not have a duty to pre-approve prescriptions and if the injured worker is having difficulty with the card, he can pay for the medications himself and submit a request for  reimbursement and wait 30 days for the reimbursement.

Two obvious problems with the insurance companies' instructions: first, the injured worker probably can't afford the prescriptions. Second, and most importantly, that is not the law.

Recently I won a case before the Board, King v UTI, in which the Board said that the prescription must be filled "promptly" and "promptly" means when the prescription is presented to the pharmacy.

The Alaska Supreme Court agreed last week in the decision of Harris v M-K Rivers. In that case, a man who was rendered paraplegic needed a special kind of bed for his bedsores.  The insurance company refused to pre-authorize it so he didn't get it.  The Supreme Court held that because the insurance company did not have a good faith basis to controvert the bed, and failing to pre-authorize the bed essentially prevented him from getting it and because of that penalties should be assessed against the insurance company.

If you're having problems with your prescriptions or any other questions or concerns regarding your workers compensation claim, call me, Keenan Powell.   I have more than 30 years experience fighting for the rights of injured Alaskans. Consultations are FREE.  Call 258-7663.

 

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After you’re injured at work, you can expect to receive a letter from the insurance company with several releases.   Do you have to sign them?

Maybe. It depends on what they are asking for.

Medical Release:  The insurance company is entitled to all of the medical records relating to treatment of you work injury.  Also, as a general rule, the insurance company is entitled to all of your medical records relating to the body part that was injured from two years prior to the date of injury.  There is a form on the Alaska Workers Compensation Board’s website which has been drafted by the Board.  Release of Medical Information

If the insurance company’s form looks like the Board’s form and is limited to the body part injured at work and from two years prior to your date of injury, it’s appropriate.  Additionally, certain providers (like Alaska Regional and Providence) insist on their own forms.  As long as these forms are limited to the body part injured at work and from two years prior to your date of injury, they are appropriate.

Employment Records Release: The insurance company is entitled to a list of your employers during the preceding ten years and an employment records release allowing them to speak with your prior employers IF you are applying for reemployment benefits.  As a general rule, they are not entitled to this information unless you are applying for reemployment benefits.

If you have questions about your workers compensation claim, call my office.  I have more than 30 years experience fighting for the rights of injured Alaskans. Consultations are FREE.  Call 258-7663.