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Frequently I'm asked by clients what they should say. What should they tell the adjuster? What should they tell opposing counsel in a deposition? What should they say in a hearing?

My answer is always the same: tell the truth. I shouldn't have to explain why but I will anyway.  Tell the truth because your testimony is the most important evidence in the case. If the other side thinks you're lying, they're going to go out of their way to destroy your case.  If the Workers Compensation Board thinks you're lying, you'll lose.

If your attorney finds out you lied or are lying, he or she will probably withdraw from your case and you'll be on your own.

And, last if not least, insurance fraud is a crime. Telling a lie in order to obtain benefits can land you in jail just like Amancio Zamora Agcaoili, Jr. who got a 30 month sentence in the federal pen. See: http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/postal-worker-gets-prison-time-365k-bill-for-fraudulent-workers-comp/32867922.

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.

 

 

 

medical stuffWhy does it seem the insurance company is in a hurry to get the doctor to release you to light duty? Because if the doctor releases you to light duty and your employer is willing to give you a light duty job, then the insurance company doesn't have to pay you temporary total disability (TTD benefits) anymore.

But that's only if the light duty is full-time work. If the doctor says you can work part-time and if your employer agrees to give you a part-time job, then you are entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) which compensates yo for the the wages you're missing out on.

And, most especially, the insurance company is entitled to cut off your TTD if and only if your employer is willing to accommodate the limitations set by your physician.  If your employer let you go when you got injured, you don't have to go out and find a part-time light duty job, you are still entitled to TTD even if the doctor gave you light duty.

If the doctor does prescribes light duty and the employer is willing to accommodate the restrictions, that's always better for the injured worker than sitting at home collecting TTD.  Getting back into the labor force sooner is better for the worker's self esteem and state of mind.  The worker will earn more money at work than TTD or TPD pays. And being in the work force builds a better work history for future employment.

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.

 

gavel-booksWhen the insurance company launches an investigation, they don't just hire a private detective to follow you around, they dig into everything they can find.

They hire someone called a "Social Media Analyst" who will crawl through your Facebook posts, your friends' Facebook posts, your Twitters and any other social media to get the goods on you.

They will go on a computer database that lists all of your addresses, current and previous, the names of your neighbors and the names of other people living in your home. They will look for old court cases in which you were involved. They'll look for any property that is in your name.

They will do everything they can do to find everything there is out in the public domain about you.

So remember, if you're putting anything out on social media, you can expect it to come back and bite you someday. Once you post, you can't unpost it.

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.

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You’ve been injured at work. The insurance doctor says either your injury wasn’t work-related or that you don’t need treatment.  Then you see a nondescript man wearing a baseball cap in a nondescript pick up truck in front of your house, at the grocery store, at the gas station.  And you think you’re being followed.

You’re not paranoid. You are being followed. And videotaped.

Insurance companies routinely hire local private detectives to follow around injured workers.  In the 2012 yellow pages, there were seventeen (17) detective agencies in Anchorage alone.  There’s at least a half dozen with websites, easy enough to find on google. All of these people are earning a living following honest, hard working people around.

Guess what? They need the work. And because they need the work, they look for what the insurance companies want to see. They’ll falsify their reports.  They’ll edit the videotapes they provide, all in an effort to make it look like the employee isn’t really injured.

The Workers Compensation Board is on to these investigators.  In my case, Guinard vs Liberty Mutual/Liberty Northwest, AWCB Decision 13-0017 (2/26/2013), Liberty Mutual introduced a report from an investigator stating my client walked around, not looking injured. I forced the insurance company to produce the video which clearly showed that my client was limping, and the investigator was lying.  We won. The insurance company lost.

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.

 

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Wage loss benefits (temporary total disability, temporary partial disability and permanent total disability are calculated pursuant to AS 23.30.220. There are 10 different formulas.

The most common formula is used when an employee’s earnings are calculated by the day, hour of output.  In that case, the amount is determined by looking at the best of the previous two years and dividing the gross wages by 50.  So if the employee’s best earning was $35,000 in one of the two years preceding the injury, his gross weekly wage is $35,000 divided by 50 equaling $700 per week.

The employee would not receive $700 for the wages lost while he is unable to work because of his injury.  Once the gross weekly wage is computed, then you need to go to the Alaska Workers Compensation Board website and plug that into the Benefit Calculator: http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/benefitcalculator.htm.

The amount of the benefits is dependent upon the year in which the employee was injured.  If he was injured on 1/1/14 and had a “spendable weekly wage” of $700, then he would be entitled to $454.44 per week if he is filing taxes as single with 1 dependent.  If he was injured on 1/1/15 instead, he would receive $454.79 per week.

Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) would be applied of the employee lives out of the state of Alaska which could increase or decrease the amount of money he receives.

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.

 

 

 

medical stuffWhat if you enter into a settlement agreement with the insurance company by which the insurance company agrees to pay your medical bills but it doesn't pay them? And the medical providers are calling you to collect the money.

You have grounds to file a new claim. You can ask the Board to enforce the settlement agreement and to order penalties against the insurance company for failing to pay the medical providers timely.

What if the settlement agreement doesn't promise to pay the medical bills but has "hold harmless" language? After that, when you call, the insurance company will tell you it will reimburse you for any bills you paid.

That is not the law.  The law says the insurance company has to pay any and all medical costs which are reasonable, necessary and work-related within 30 days of the billing.  You need to file a new Claim and ask the Board to order the insurance company to pay the bills.

If you feel like you're getting jacked around, you are.  Call an attorney. Find out what your rights are.

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 www.keenanpowell.com or call 258-7663.

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Nothing gives me a shot of adrenalin faster than to find out the doctor said something important to my client and I didn't know about it.  If you see your doctor, call your attorney's office right after you leave and tell them what was said.  It's critical for us to  keep our files up to date.  Your attorney will love you for it.

And don't be afraid to call for a status on your case.  The attorney works for you.  It's your case.  You're entitled to know what is going on.

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 www.keenanpowell.com or call 258-7663.

toolsIf you're hurt at work and cannot go back to work for more than 90 days, then the insurance company is supposed to notify the Reemployment Benefits Administrator (RBA) which triggers a reemployment investigation.  The RBA appoints a private employment counselor to talk with you, collect information from the Employer and your doctors and prepares a report to the RBA answering the questions: 1. will you sustain a permanent partial impairment rating, 2. can you go back to work in the job you were doing, 3. can you go back to work in any job you performed in the past 10 years, and 4. have you had reemployment training before.

Depending on the answers, the RBA may find you eligible for reemployment benefits.  You then elect whether you want job dislocation benefits (a pay-off) or whether you want to go through retraining.  If you elect retraining, you can select your own employment counselor to develop a plan. (The RBA will give you a list of counselors.)  The plan is then submitted to the RBA.  When the RBA approves the plan, the Insurance Company starts paying you "41k" benefits (a bi-weekly stipend) and it will pay for your books and tuition.  You have two years from the date of the plan approval to complete the plan.

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 www.keenanpowell.com or call 258-7663.

 

gavel-booksTwo points I want to make:  Don't go to work high. Don't use marijuana for pain unless your doctor prescribes it.

1.  Don't go to work high. You might think you can do your job high (and maybe you can). You might not feel that high and you may not have toked just before you went to work.  But one thing that you can be guaranteed: if there is an accident and your test positive for THC (or any other drugs or alcohol), you will be blamed. That means losing your job.  It means if your injured, you will be denied workers compensation benefits. And it'll be on you to prove that the accident was not caused by your intoxication in order to get your benefits back, which would be hard to do if you aren't making money and can't afford a toxicology expert to testify for you.

2. Don't use pot for pain (unless prescribed).  If you are being treated for pain and being prescribed pain meds, most doctors will require you to sign a Pain Contract.  The pain contract says you won't get prescriptions from another doctor and you won't use illegal substances.  The reason the doctors do urine analysis is to make sure you aren't violating the pain contract.  If you do, the doctor will refuse to treat you.  Not only you can't get prescription pain meds anymore, you'll be tagged with "drug seeking behavior" which is code for "addict and liar".  It's not a label you want.

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.

USPS priority mail envelopeWhen you send any documents to the insurance company, you need to have proof they got it. There are two ways to do that:

1.  You can fax the document to them.  Keep a copy of the fax and a copy of the fax confirmation sheet showing they received it.

2.  You can mail it priority mail.  A bar code number will be assigned to the letter and you can track delivery on USPS.com.

It's important to prove when you sent the documents because the insurance company doesn't owe you money until they receive them.  They don't owe you TTD (temporary total disability)  until they receive a doctor's note taking you off work.  They don't owe you travel benefits until they receive your travel log.  They can cut off your benefits if they don't get releases you requested.  If whatever you are sending to the insurance company is important enough to send, its important enough to prove that you sent it.

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.