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It is the position of most insurance companies that they do not have a duty to pay medical benefits, that the only duty they have is to reimburse the Employee for medical expenses 30 days after the Insurer received notice of the Employee’s expenditures, and that, just to be nice, the Insurer’s arrange to pay some of the medical benefits directly to the providers.

 That’s not what the law says.  The law says the insurance companies have a duty to pay medical benefits immediately on demand.  In other words, “now” means “now”. The case which said interpreted the law to hold that the benefits are due immediately is Harris v. M-K Rivers, 325 P.3d 510 ( Alaska, 2014)  decided in March of 2014 by the Alaska Supreme Court. “To determine when an employer's payments for medical care are due under the Workers' Compensation Act, for purposes of determining whether the employer is subject to a penalty for failing to timely pay amount due, payments due are more appropriately characterized as payable immediately or on claimant's demand, rather than owed as a debt.”  Id, 519. Harris v MK

So if the insurance company is dragging its feet in pre-authorizing surgery, some other medical benefit, it will owe penalties and interests and is flirting with the possibility of being referred to the Division of Insurance for an investigation.

Keenan Powell has practiced Workers Compensation law in the State of Alaska for more than 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans.  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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The question is:  Do an injured employee get workers compensation benefits when he or she is assaulted in the workplace?

The answer is: sometimes.

The Alaska Workers Compensation Act is meant providers benefits to workers injured in the course and scope of their employment.  If an assault or sexual assault is reasonably foreseeable and incidental to the employment, then the employee is entitled to workers compensation benefits.  Obvious examples of an occupation where an assault is reasonably foreseeable and incidental to the employment include jail employees, hospital employees, police, security employees.

If the employment provided a unique opportunity which led to the assault, then workers compensation should apply.  In Temple v Denali Lodge, 21 P 3rd 813 (Alaska, 2001), the Supreme Court cited a North Carolina case where a cocktail waitress stopped to help a stranded motorist who she recognized as a customer.  He kidnapped and sexually assaulted her and she sustained serious injuries escaping.

If the employment creates a special risk, then subsequent injuries should be covered by workers compensation.  The Supreme Court also cited a California case of a woman whose job required her to do home visits.  Her husband posed as a customer under an assumed name and shot and killed her when she came to his apartment.

It is unlikely however that an employer would be responsible merely for failing to protect his employees from assault.

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.  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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Workers Compensation insurance companies can, and do, spend a lot of money on private investigators following injured employees around and videotaping them.

 

Then, the private investigator will provide the insurance company with confidential reports which are not automatically produced to the injured employee (nor are the videotapes) because the insurance company wants to blind side the injured employee with the report and videotapes at a hearing and use the report and videotapes to influence its doctors.  If the injured employee doesn’t know about the surveillance, reports and videotapes, there is nothing s/he can do.

 

In a recent case before the Juneau board, Cornielson v Rappe Excavating, the insurance company’s attorney introduced the report and edited video.  The Board demanded to see the entire video, unedited, and when it saw the entire video, unedited, the Board came down hard on the insurance company.

 

In the first place, the private investigator’s report didn’t match the unedited videotape and in the second place, the video was edited to cut out all of the scenes showing the injured worker was in real pain, not knowing that he was being videotaped.

 

Word to the wise: if you’re in a Workers Compensation case and you think you’re being followed, you are.  Even if you don’t think you’re being followed, you may be.  You need to demand all surveillance videos and reports.

 

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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A Second Independent Medical Evaluation (SIME) is ordered by the Alaska Workers Compensation Board. It can be ordered for three different reasons.  First, SIMEs are most commonly ordered when there is a dispute between the injured Employee's treating physician and the the Employer's expert doctor.

A SIME can also be ordered if, second, there is a gap in evidence or, third,  if the Board wants an evaluation for the purpose of developing the evidence before a hearing.  A gap in the evidence occurs when there is not a clear cut dispute between the treating physician and Employer's physician but there is some evidence of a dispute.

When the Board orders a SIME, it sends the injured Employee to a physician on its list. See: SIME list Bulletin 13-06. The physicians on this list were approved by a committee but it does not mean that the physicians on the list are neutral. If you are facing a SIME, it is important to review cases in which that physician has been involved to determine whether s/he is fair.  All decisions issued by the Board are available to the public and can be accessed on the Board's website: http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/legaldir.htm.  

There are two ways to obtain a Board order for a SIME: the first is to obtain the agreement of the Employer's attorney.  The second way is to file a Petition for SIME and go to hearing on the Petition.  The forms for requesting a SIME are on the Board's site as well.  You will need a Petition, form 07-6111, and a SIME form, form 07-6147.

Once a SIME is ordered, a Board employee will pick the physician(s) unless the injured Worker and Employer have stipulated to a particular physician and will send a letter out to the injured Employee and the Employer informing them of the date and time of the appointment and the name and location of the examination. The Employer is responsible for arranging, and paying for, transportation, hotel and meals for the Employee.

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.

 

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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.