Don't forget First Friday!  Artique will host First Friday on April 5 from 5-7 PM with new works from local artists on the theme of birds.  http://www.artiqueltd.com/.  Check out Linda Lyon's fabulous painting that will be in the exhibit on my FB:  https://www.facebook.com/keenanpowellak.

Artic Rose is featuring Alaska State Parks and Arts in the Parks program and is accepting submissions.

Comedy Improv, Fridays 8 PM.  Snowgoose.

Dead Man’s Cell Phone.  March 29 through April 21.  Thursdays to Saturdays 7 PM, Sundays 3 PM.  Cyrano’s.

The Circuitous Route of a Raven.  A lunch time talk given by Don Reardon, author of The Raven’s Gift, about his experiences in publishing.  April 4, 2013 11:30 AM  to 1 PM.  Kinley’s Restaurant.

April First Tap with Brett Dennen, folk/pop singer.  Bear Tooth.  Doors open at 8 PM.

Pirates of Penzance.  April 5 through April 7.  Friday through Saturday 8 PM, Sunday 4 PM.  PAC.

The Step Crew.  Irish step dancing.  April 13 at PAC.

Mosiacs workshop.  April 13-14.  Saturday 10-4, Sunday 12-2.  Museum.  If you like mosiacs, there are ongoing classes in the Valley: http://arcticmermaidmosaics.com/.

Anchorage Symphony Orchestra Season Finale.  April 20 8 PM.  PAC.

Montery Jazz Festival on Tour.  April 28 7:30 PM PAC.

For more information, see http://www.anchorage.net/events.

 

 

Snow: Pretty in a snowglobe.  Not so pretty when you’re trying to drive somewhere.

 

Because of Alaska’s unique climate, and all the snow, quite a bit of law has evolved since Statehood regarding who is responsible for clearing the snow, who is responsible for making the streets, sidewalks and parking lots safe to drive and walk on and when that person is liable if someone is injured because of snow or ice.

 

Snow and ice issues are found in landlord-tenant law, negligence claims against landowners, claims against drivers, claims against the State of Alaska for negligent highway maintenance as well as common in Workers Compensation claims.

 

A residential landlord is responsible for clearing snow and ice and for making the premises safe for his tenants.  Simply leaving a bucket of ice melt near the sidewalk is not good enough.  If someone slips and falls on his property, a tenant or a tenant’s guest, he will be liable for that person’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

 

Drivers must be more careful in snowy and icy conditions.  Even if they are driving the speed limit, the speed limit may be too high for the conditions.  Drivers need to slow down and be particularly careful in intersections.  If a driver causes an accident because he is driving too fast for the conditions and loses control of his car, slides into another lane, rear ends someone, he will be liable.

 

Business owners are responsible for maintaining their parking lots and sidewalks so that it is safe for their patrons to drive and walk on.  The first case in Alaska establishing this rule was a lawsuit against Carr’s.

 

The City is responsible for snow removal in Anchorage and would be liable if conditions were so bad that no one could drive safely or if the City left a berm which blocked line of sight at an intersection and the City’s actions were unreasonable.

 

So too is the State responsible for snow and ice removal on the highways.  Juries have held the State accountable when an accident was caused by the conditions regardless of how careful the drivers were.

 

In Workers Compensation, if you are injured for any reason at work, the Employer’s insurance company is liable for you benefits.  Generally the “coming and going” rule says that if you are hurt on your way to work or on the way home, then you are not entitled to Workers Compensation benefits but if you are required to park in the Employer’s parking lot and must walk in a designated area owned by the Employer to reach your work place and you slip and fall on an accumulation of ice and snow, then you will be entitled to Workers Compensation benefits.

 

The bottom line is:  if you are hurt because of the conditions, you will need to prove it.  Take pictures as soon as possible. Then contact an attorney.

 

For more information, see the FAQ page:  http://keenanpowell.com/faq-mva.html

 

To contact Keenan Powell, e-mail:  keenan@keeenanpowell.com.

 

 

 

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.

mailto:keenan@keenanpowell.com.

When the employer is determined to be "medically stable", then he or she is entitled to a Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) rating.

"Medically stable" means that there is no objective measurable improvement.  Medical stability is presumed in the absence of objectively measurable improvement for a period of 45 days however that presumption can be rebutted.

The PPI rating is determined by a physician who is specifically trained to conduct PPI ratings.  He examines the Employee and reviews medical records and then makes his determination based upon the American Medical Association Guidelines to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.

When the physician assesses a certain PPI rating, he will state that the Employee has a per centage of whole body disability.  The whole body figure used in Alaska in $177,000.  Thus if the physician says that the Employee has a 10% PPI rating, then the Employee should be paid 10% of $177,000 or $17,700.

There is a lot of room for disagreement in this process.   Frequently the insurance company will hire an doctor to perform an Employer Medical Evaluation (EME) and that doctor concludes that the Employee is medically stable but the treating physician say that he isn’t, that he needs more treatment to improve.

Another area of disagreement is when the Employee became medically table.  Sometimes the EME will conclude that the Employee was medically stable months before the evaluation but the treating physician assesses a different date.  The reason that is a problem is that if the Employee was drawing Temporary Total Disability during the period time after which the EME said that he is medically stable, the insurance company is going to want that money back.

The obvious area of disagreement is the PPI rating itself.  The EME will often conclude that the rating is very low, claiming that there is pre-existing degenerative changes and/or that the Employee was malingaring (faking) the extent of his disability.

When these disagreements come up, the Employee is entitled to a Second Independent Medical Evaluation (SIME).  A SIME is an evaluation by physician chosen by the Board.  The insurance company pays for the SIME and if the Employee needs to travel to the doctor, the insurance company is required to pay for the travel as well as time missed from work.

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

Contact Keenan Powell through the contact form or call: 258-7663.  Toll free: 888-368-5678.

The Anchorage School District Art Show, opens March 1 at the Anchorage Museum (First Friday event).  The annual Anchorage School District exhibition showcases artwork from the district’s most creative student artists, giving them the rare opportunity to display their art in a museum. This year’s theme is Flight of the Imagination, a nod to the museum’s Arctic Flight exhibition.  Works are chosen by teachers and include drawings, paintings and sculpture.  http://www.anchoragemuseum.org.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival featuring mountain themed cinema is Friday, March 1 beginning at 7 Pm at UAA Wendy Williamson auditorium.

March 5, 2013:  Alaska Youth Orchestra Winter Concert at the PAC performing Night on Bald Mountain and other selections.

St. Patricks Day Celebrations in Anchorage include:

Friday, March 15:   St. Patrick’s Dinner, Show and Dance at St. Patrick’s Parish (where else?).  Serving Corned Beef and Cabbage is followed by a musical review by Chaos. Marge Ford and the Alaska Polka Chips, along with the Alaska button Box Gang round out the evening.  $20 per person for the Dinner, Show and Dance. $9 per person for the Polka Dance Alone.  Because what else would you do on a St. Patrick’s Day weekend besides polka?

Saturday, March 16, meet at 8:30 AM for Bear Tooth & Skinny Raven Shamrock Shuffle 5K.  Race starts at 9:30 AM.  www.skinnyraven.com.  Free Mizuno t-shirt and free pint glass filled once with beer or soda on race day, and that night you can continue your celebration with:

Saturday, March 16 7:00p: St. Patrick’s Eve Celebration at the Snow Goose. Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with The Derry Aires, The Irish Dance Academy and the Northern Lights Celtic Dancers, Soloists Dawn Berg, Beth Margeson, Terri McCoy and Destany Hawley, the Band Wings to Fly.  Full beverage service available throughout the evening.

Or, if you prefer: Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the PAC on March 16 starting at 7:30 PM.

Whistling Swan is bringing Rickie Lee Jones to the PAC on March 24http://www.whistlingswan.net/

And at the end of the month, the Alaska Railroad Easter Train is Saturday March 30 starting at 10 AM.  Take a ride with the Easter Bunny from the Historic Anchorage Downtwon Depo down Turnagain Arm to Indian and back.  Search "special trains" on http://www.alaskarailroad.com/.

In Workers Compensation cases, the first question most attorneys ask when a prospective client calls is: "Have you been controverted?"

A controversion can be formal or informal.  If the insurance company is obeying the law, it will send you a Controversion Notice explaining why it is no longer paying your benefits.  The back side of the form sets out what your rights and obligations are if you wish to pursue a Claim before the Board.  That information is very important, so read it.  If you don’t understand it, you can go to the Board’s office and ask to speak to a legal tech.  Or you can call an attorney.

 Controversion Notice

An informal controversion is when the insurance company resists payment of benefits.  For instance, the insurance company may refuse to preauthorize your surgery.  Because it refuses to preauthorize your surgery, the doctor won’t perform the operation.  Suddenly you’re stuck not being able to get the surgery that you need and you can’t go back to work because your injury isn’t fixed.  Even if the insurance company is paying you temporary total disability or temporary partial disability, it’s not enough to live on.  And you fall farther and farther behind.

 Even if the insurance company has not formally controverted you, you are still entitled to file a Claim to recover your benefits and you can still find an attorney to help you, because once the insurance company has controverted you, or resisted payment of your benefits, and you are successful in obtaining benefits through the services of your attorney, the insurance company will have to pay your attorneys fees.

 See http://www.keenanpowell.com/faq-wc.html for more information.

The insurance companies pay their own attorneys and doctors substantially more than they are required to pay employees attorneys.  In 2011, they spent a total of $11 million ($9.4 million and another $1.6 in litigation costs) to defeat employee’s claims.  But they only paid employee attorneys a total of $4.4 million, less than half of what the spent on their own doctors and lawyers.    Source: Alaska Workers Compensation Board Annual Report, 2011:  http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/forms/2011AR.pdf.

Workers Compensation in Alaska is a multi-million dollar business.  A total of $260.7 million was paid in benefits in 2011 including $160.4 million on medical benefits and $55.1 million in indemnity (TTD, TPD, PPI and PTD) benefits.  These benefits include those paid to workers injured in prior years as well as 2011.

In 2011, over 21,000 workers were injured.  Most of these injuries were to fingers and backs.

Employers filed 4,655 controversions in 3,550 cases in 2011, an increase of 18.1%.  But only 1,224 claims were filed which means that there are well over 2,000 workers in 2011 alone who are not pursuing their rights under the Workers Compensation Act.

The Employers do not always file controversions which would alert the Employee to his rights when they treat Employees unfairly.  The Employers will not tell you if you have the right to challenge the compensation rate which they have calculated or that you are entitled to travel benefits for every trip to a doctor or therapist.  The Employers will not tell you that you have the right ask the Board to order the insurance company to pay for your surgery.  The Employers will not tell you when you have the right to seek a Second Independent Medical Evaluation from the Board when the insurance doctor disagrees with you treating physician.

Bottom Line:  There are many injured workers who are being controverted or treated unfairly that do not seek legal representation and the insurance companies spend are willing to pay hefty sums to keep from paying Employees.  For more information regarding Workers Compensation benefits, visit: http://www.keenanpowell.com/faq-wc.html. 

There were 7,136 automobile collisions in Anchorage in 2011.   http://www.muni.org/Departments/works/traffic/engineering.  Not surprisingly, the majority of those collisions occurred from Monday through Friday and during the winter months.   Of those 7,136 collisions, .25% resulted in fatalities and 29.92% were reported as injury accidents.  However, experience has shown us that many people do not realize that they are injured in a motor vehicle accidents until a few hours later and many of these latent injuries are often times serious.

In 2011, there were 192,733 passenger vehicles registered in Anchorage.  http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/research/curreg11.htm.    Assuming that there was an average of two cars in each of the 7,136 collisions, that means that 14,272 vehicles were involved in accidents in 2011.  In other words, seven per cent (7%) of cars registered in Anchorage were in accidents.  With odds like that, it is only a matter of time until everyone in Anchorage is involved in an accident and those odds increase if you drive to work Monday through Friday during the winter.

Thirty-one per cent (31%) of those collisions were rear end accidents.   It happens all of the time.  One driver stops at a stop sign or a stop light and the driver behind him is driving too fast or not paying attention and slams into him.  The innocent driver’s injuries can run the gamut from sprains and strains to herniated discs, rotator cuff injuries, wrist injuries and knee injuries.

Injuries from accidents can cause not only physical discomfort but the need for medical treatment, possibly surgery and time lost from work, all of which is unfair when all the injured driver was doing was driving to work in the winter, like most of us, and stopped at an intersection.  The problem is that thirteen per cent (13%) of Alaskan drivers are uninsured despite the fact that driving without insurance carries stiff penalties.  Not surprisingly, drivers who don’t obey the law and buy insurance also frequently don’t obey traffic laws. If that were not bad enough, there is a significant amount of hit and run accidents in Alaska as the result of drivers attempting to escape responsibility for their bad driving.  Many of them are unlicensed and uninsured as well.

The bottom line is that it’s important for your own protection to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage.  The minimum coverage available is $50,000/$100,000 but that is rarely enough to cover lost wages and medical costs in the event of any kind of surgery, much less in the event of a serious disabling injury.

Fore more information regarding insurance, visit my website:  http://www.keenanpowell.com/faq-mva.html.

 

"Rondy is a 77-year tradition in Anchorage and you are invited to join us for our 10-day celebration of life in Alaska!"  http://www.furrondy.net/.  Fur Rondy is a fun time for the whole family with events taking place all over Anchorage from February 22 through March 3.  There will be a parade on Saturday, Feb 23 on 5th and 6th Avenues starting at 10:30.  The carnival will be on 3rd and E St starting  on Feb 22 at 1 PM. The Victorian Tea at the Senior Center is on Saturday, Feb 24 from 2-4 PM (Must purchase tickets in advance.  Call 770-2000). The fur auction will be Sat. Feb 23 from 11 AM to 4 PM at 3rd and E St.   Snowshoe softball at Kosinski Field on Saturday, Feb 23 from 8:45 AM to 6 PM. Outhouse races on Sat Feb 23 at 4 PM on 4th Ave between E St and F St.  dog races, Blanket toss on the weekends from 2PM to 4Pm at 3rd and E St. Snowboarding demo (I saw that a couple of years ago.  Awesome!) is on 2d Ave downhill from the Carnival on Sat. Feb 23 from 5 PM to 6 PM.  The melodrama is again at the Snow Goose Theatre on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.   There will also be a juried art competition at the Senior Center, a hockey tournament, basketball, Runnning of the Reindeer, Frostbite Footrace on 5th Avenue starting at Egan Center skywalk (you can register on-line by going to the Fury Rondy website), snow sculptures on Ship Creek Avenue, Native arts market at Dimond Mall.   My favorite event: the fireworks display will be on Saturday, February 23 starting at 6:45 PM at the small boat harbor, Ship Creek Avenue.  Shake off cabin fever, get out and rondy!

The Anchorage Police Department no longer provides witness contact information to people involved in motor vehicle accidents.  So those people have no way of finding you if you give your name and contact information to the police.  If you want to do your civic duty and are willing to say what you saw, give your contact information to all of the drivers involved.  They will greatly appreciate it.