When you travel for treatment as the result of your work-related injury, you are entitled to the same mileage a state worker receives.  In order to obtain these benefits, you need to send a travel log to the insurance adjuster documenting: the date of travel, from (address), to (address) and the round trip mileage. I always attach a google map showing the directions between the two destinations to document the distance.  This is a sample of what a travel log would look like if I received benefits for mileage from my office to the Alaska Workers Compensation Board: Travel Log sample

Here is the google map showing the distance: 750 W 2nd Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501 to 3301 Eagle St, Anchorage, AK 99503 - Google Maps

The amount of the travel benefits depends on what year the travel was made. Link to Bulletin 17-01 from the Alaska Workers Compensation Board to find that information, http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/bulletins/17-01.pdf.

As always, when you turn in documentation that you are entitled to benefits, the insurance company has a duty to pay it or controvert it within a specific time period. That time period commences when you turn in the documentation. So you need to save proof of the date that you turned it in. If you faxed it, save the fax confirmation page. If you emailed it, save the email. If you went in person and handed it to someone, make a second copy of the log for yourself (which you should have anyway) and ask the receptionist to date-stamp your copy. That will prove when you were in there. If you mail it, mail it certified. If the benefits are not timely paid, you will be entitled to a 25% penalty plus interest.

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.

All consultations are free.  To make an appointment, use the contact form on this website or call:  907 258 7663.

 

  1. Employers don’t like to file Reports of Injury. On the job injuries raises the Employer’s insurance rates and can disqualify them from bidding for federal contracts.
  2. Employers must file Reports of Injury. Whether they like it or not, they must fill out the Workers Compensation Report of Injury form and file it with the Board 10 days after the injury is reported to them.
  3. Employers will owe the Injured Worker a penalty if it fails to report the injury timely. The amount of the penalty is based upon the benefits paid to the Injured Worker.  It is 20% of the benefits that were unpaid when due.
  4.  Insurance companies don’t like Workers Compensation claims. Claims eat into their profits.
  5.  The “Nurse Case Manager” is hired by the insurance company to keep an eye on the Injured Worker and to “coordinate” medical treatment. That means she tells the doctor what the insurance company will and will not pay for thereby directing treatment. She is an insurance company spy.
  6. It’s against the law for the insurance company to direct medical treatment. The insurance company is not allowed to tell the doctor what he can or cannot do.  Your treatment is a decision between you and your doctor, alone.
  7. It is against the law for the insurance company to deny or refuse to pay for treatment that your doctor ordered unless they can prove they have a “good faith” basis for the refusal. Some insurance companies drag their feet without formally controverting benefits. Meanwhile the Injured Worker can’t get the treatment he or she needs and can’t get back to work.
  8. A “good faith” basis for the refusal usually means the insurance company’s doctor (so-called “IME”) says the treatment your doctor recommended is not reasonable or necessary or not related to your work injuries. The doctor’s opinion must be a “responsible medical opinion”. A “responsible medical opinion” should be based on scientific principles widely accepted in the medical community, review of the employee's medical records, and the specialized knowledge and training of the physician.
  9. There is no such thing as an “Independent Medical Evaluation”.The insurance companies regularly employ doctors who will say what they want to hear, that is, give them a reason to deny your treatment.
  10. You can fight the insurance company. You can file a Claim with the Alaska Workers Compensation Board.  You can hire an attorney.

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.

All consultations are free.  To make an appointment, use the contact form on this website or call:  907 258 7663.

 

 

 

You are entitled to a Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) rating when your injury has become "medically stable". "Medical stability means the date after which further objectively measurable improvement...is not reasonably expected to result from additional medical care..." As 23.30.095(27).

In other words, if your injury isn't expected to improve, then you are medically stable. If you are receiving Temporary Total Disability (TTD), those checks stop when you are medically stable. You are paid PPI and that is the end of the checks you receive unless you are in the reemployment process, or unless something else happens on account of which you cannot work such as you need a second surgery.

Who determines when you are medically stable and what your PPI rating is?

Your doctor may determine that you are medically stable. He may send you to another clinic to perform the PPI rating or if there is someone in his clinic that does them, they will perform the rating there.

Sometimes the insurance company will send you to their doctor (Employer Independent Medical Evaluation) and that doctor will opine whether you are medically stable and what your PPI rating is.

When you are referred for a PPI rating, the doctor will review your medical records, perhaps examine you, perhaps review a Physical Capacity Evaluation, and then refer to the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (6th edition) which lists nearly every kind of injury that can occur to a person and instructs the doctor how to evaluate the injury.  The Alaska Workers Compensation Board mandates the use of the AMA Guidelines, there is no getting around it.  However the doctor does have some discretion in classifying your injury based upon many factors, one of which is the amount of pain created by the injury.  Therefor it is important for the doctor to have all of your medical records, including your MRIs and x-rays, as well as a full knowledge of how the injury has impacted your life.

If you disagree with the insurance doctor's PPI rating, you can ask your own physician to review it and to refer you to someone who will do a PPI rating on your behalf.

If it has been some time since your injury and you are no longer being treated, or your treatment is only for pain and isn't going to improve your underlying condition, and you haven't been referred for a PPI rating yet, ask your doctor to do so.

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.

www.keenanpowell.com/faq-wc.htl

Sometimes a worker is injured as the result of an event that also gives rise to a personal injury claim. The most common example is a driver of some sort: parts store runner, pizza delivery guy, or taxi driver. If the driver is involved in an accident while he is working, he is entitled to workers compensation benefits. If the accident was caused by the negligence of a third person, he is also entitled to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.

Problems can come up when its time to settle his personal injury claim. He must obtain the consent of his employer or the workers compensation insurance company before he accepts the personal injury settlement. If he does not obtain his employer or the workers compensation insurance company’s consent, then he will have lost all of his workers compensation benefits.

This came up in the case of Atkins v Inlet Transportation & Taxi Service, AWCAC Appeal No 14-011 decided September 26, 2016. Tracy Atkins, a taxi driver, was seriously injured in a head on collision in 2009. He filed a claim for workers compensation benefits. At the time of the accident, his employer was not insured so the workers compensation claim was being pursued against the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Benefits Guaranty Fund.

Neither Mr. Atkins nor his attorney knew about the Alaska statute, AS 23.30.015(h) which required him to obtain written consent prior to settling the claim. In 2011, his personal injury attorney settled his personal injury case without the written approval of the employer.

When the Fund found out he had settled his PI case without written consent, it filed a petition to dismiss his workers compensation claim. The Board dismissed the case. He appealed to the Commission. The Commission agreed with the Board even though the Employer had never participated in the Workers Compensation case and had failed to respond to Mr. Atkins’ attorney attempts to contact them about insurance coverage.

Mr. Atkins could have avoided the outcome had he first sought his employer’s permission to settle the case and then when the employer failed to respond, or he refused to do so, he could have filed a petition to the Board asking the Board to approve the settlement.

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.

All consultations are free.  To make an appointment, use the contact form on this website or call:  907 258 7663.

 

 

 

If you settle your workers compensation case, your agreement will be sent to the Board for approval. Unless you agree that the insurance company will have an extension, it must pay your benefits within 14 days of the approval of the agreement. AS 23.30.155(f). If the payment is not postmarked by the 14th day after the agreement is approved, the insurance company owes you another 25% on top of what it agreed to pay you. It used to be the insurance company would voluntarily include that payment when the first check is mailed, as it required under the law. But now you must fight for it.

Also if you win an award from the Board after a hearing, it’s the same thing. The insurance company must mail the payment by day 14. If it doesn’t, then it owes you another 25%.

There are no excuses. Either the insurance company mailed the payment on time or it did not.

To get the additional 25%, you will need to file a Claim with the Board. An attorney would be happy to help you.

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.

All consultations are free.  To make an appointment, use the contact form on this website or call:  907 258 7663.

When the insurance company owes you money arising from a Workers Compensation case, the checks have to be mailed on time or it owes you a 25% penalty.

The first installment of temporary total disability is due 14 days after the employer has knowledge of the injury or death. The subsequent installments are due every 14 days. AS 23.30.155(c).

If compensation without an award is not paid with 7 days it became due, then there is a 25% penalty.

If compensation with an award is not paid within 14 days of it becoming due, then there is a 25% penalty.

Sometimes, the insurance company will cut a check and the check will show the date it is cut, but they don't mail it until a day or several days later. They "pay" when they mail the check, not when they cut the check.

So it's critical that you save the envelope to see what date the check was mailed. It could be worth a lot of money to you.

Keenan Powell has practiced law in Alaska for more than 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans.

All consultations are free.  If you want to set up a meeting, use the contact form on www.keenanpowell.com or call:  907 258 7663.

When injured workers call me and ask me why the insurance company did something, I tell them I can’t explain it logically. That’s the short answer.

I’ve never worked inside an insurance company and I don’t know how they organize their tasks (if they do), but having observed their behavior for 35 years, I have drawn some conclusions.

Greed makes the greedy paranoid and then they behave insanely. When you’re broke, you think having money would make you feel secure. It doesn’t make you feel secure; it makes you afraid of running out of money. So you need more. The more you get, the more you need.

Insurance companies are a profit industry. The workers compensation insurance carriers who operate in Alaska make between 45 and 100 million dollars per year profit.

Insurance companies are a profit industry. The workers compensation insurance carriers who operate in Alaska make between 45 and 100 million dollars per year profit.

One way for insurance companies, or any greedy employer, can improve their profits is by hiring less people to do more work. Then they give them the minimal amount of training to do the work. Then very little supervision and guidance. And they pay the adjusters poorly so the adjusters quickly develop the opinion that the injured worker, who may be receiving more money on workers compensation than the adjuster makes, is bilking the system.

Add to that a corporate philosophy that the injured workers are trying to “get away with something”, and you have an adjuster who doesn’t really care if the injured worker gets his comp check on time or if his surgery is preauthorized. You are just another file to them.

So don’t waste your time trying to rationalize their behavior. It’s impossible. Instead, talk to an experienced attorney who will tell you what your rights are and how to enforce them.

Keenan Powell has practiced law in Alaska for more than 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans.

All consultations are free.  If you want to set up a meeting, use the contact form on www.keenanpowell.com or call:  907 258 7663.

 

 

 

 

Collect all the medical records from every provider that has seen you since the date of injury. Also collect all the correspondence from the insurance company and its attorney, all claims, answers, petitions, and prehearing conference summaries and notices that were filed with or by the Alaska Workers Compensation Board.

When you start looking for an attorney to handle your workers compensation claim, you will quickly find out that attorneys will ask you to pull together a number of records to review. At the very least, he or she will want to see all of your medical records since your date of injury, the report of the insurance doctor (EIME), if one exists, and the controversion notice, if one exists. Depending on the circumstances, the attorney may want to request more documents in order to review your case.

There are two basic reasons why attorneys ask for the file before deciding whether to accept the case: first, in order to evaluate the case properly, and second, it is a test.

Ab attorney cannot determine whether he or she can help the claimant without reviewing the entire file. Workers Compensation law is complicated and each case is unique.

The second reason for asking claimants to gather the records: it is a test. If a claimant does not have enough motivation to collect the files, then he or she probably doesn’t have enough motivation to see the case through. If he or she cannot or does not follow directions, then he or she will be a difficult client to work with.

So if you are serious about your workers compensation claim, collect the records which are asked of you. All of them.

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.

The Employee won her case in Lena v Fred Meyer Stores, Decision and Order 16-0135 issued on December 30, 2016.

http://appeals.dol.alaska.gov/docs/workerscomp/2016/16-0135.pdf.

In Lena, Fred Meyers lost both defenses it claimed. First it claimed that the Employee had not timely report her injury. The Board determined that she had reported the injury.

Fred Meyers then claimed that the condition, an aggravation of foot condition that required surgery, was not work-related. It relied upon the opinion of a doctor it hired, Dr. Scot Youngblood, an "independent medical examiner", in which he stated what the Employer hired him to write. The Board discounted his opinion because he didn't understand Alaska’s legal standard.

Under the Alaska Workers Compensation Act, if a work event aggravates, accelerates or combined with a pre-existing condition to create a disability or need for medical treatment, then it is workers compensation injury.

Most importantly, there is no distinction between aggravation of symptoms and aggravation of an underlying condition.  If a work event, even chronic overuse, aggravates symptoms creating a disability or need for treatment, then the injury is workers compensation. The Employee is entitled to have her medical treatment paid for by the Employer and to be compensated for her lost wages.

Keenan Powell has practiced law in Alaska for more than 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans.

All consultations are free.  If you want to set up a meeting, use the contact form on www.keenanpowell.com or call:  907 258 7663.

 

 

 

The 2015 Annual Report from the State of Alaska Division or Workers Compensation shows what a big business workers compensation claims are and insurance companies’ trends to improve their profits. The full report is accessible on the Division’s website at: http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/forms/2015AR.pdf

In 2015, Reports of Injury increased 6.5% from to 19,909 reported injuries. Insurance companies controverted 3,682 claims and after cases were filed with the Board, the insurance companies controverted 2,645 claims.

And the insurance companies are often wrong. 1,200 claims were filed in the Division (cases filed after the insurance companies controverted the claim). 614 cases settled after the insurance company controveted benefits and the Employee filed a claim. That’s more than one-half.  Another 164 cases went to hearing.

The point is: when insurance companies controvert benefits, the controversion is not always fair. According to these numbers, in more than half of the cases the insurance companies initially controverted, they later paid out settlements. They would not have done so if they thought they could win the case.

If you have been controverted, you need to find out whether you are being treated fairly. Call an experienced Workers Compensation attorney.

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.

All consultations are free.  To make an appointment, use the contact form on this website or call:  907 258 7663.