“Preexisting conditions” is an excuse that the insurance companies like to use to deny benefits. Frequently they will hire their own doctor ("IME") to say that an Employee’s need for medical treatment or his disability is not because the Employee was injured at work, but instead due to preexisting conditions, usually degenerative disc disease.

The law is clear: work-related injuries which aggravate, accelerate or combine with pre-existing conditions to cause a disability or need for medical treatment is still a Workers Compensation injury.

In 2011, 3,550 employee injuries were controverted but only one-third of those, 1,224, filed claims with the Alaska Workers Compensation Board and employers paid their attorneys $9.4 million in 2011 to defeat employee's claims.   Source: Alaska Workers Compensation 2011 Annual Report.

All Employers are required by law to carry Workers Compensation insurance, yet many do not.  When that happens, the Employees think they have no right to benefits but that is not true.

All Alaska employees are insured in case they are injured at work.  The State of Alaska has a Guarantee Fund which pays the same benefits to injured workers which they would get if their Employer carried insurance.  In order to collect these benefits, the Employee must file a Claim with the Alaska Workers Compensation Board.

In Workers Compensation cases, the amount of money which the Employee receives while off work (Temporary Total Disability, Temporary Partial Disability) is usually determined by looking at earnings during the previous two years, which is often unfair if the Employee had a much lower income in that time period.  In those cases, the Employee can file a Claim with the Board asking for an adjustment of the compensation rate.

The majority of car accidents that I see occur when my client is minding his or her own business, stopped at a red light or stop sign, and then slammed into by someone who wasn't paying attention.  Because the negligent driver has a duty to keep a proper lookout and to refrain from crashing into people, these cases are very strong whether the injuries are minor or serious.  If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should report the accident to the police, your insurance company and the negligent driver's insurance company.  Be sure to seek appropriate medical treatment and talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to find out what your rights are.

In Workers Compensation cases, an injured worker is free to leave Alaska while he is drawing benefits.  However his compensation rate (how much he is paid for temporary total disability) will be adjusted for cost of living.   To check the exact adjustment, go to the Workers Compensation Board's website, http://labor.state.ak.us/wc/home.htm.  In the right hand side there is a menu.  Go to "Bulletins".  In the Bulletins section, look for the most recent bulletin regarding "Cost of Living Adjustment for Recipients Residing Outside of the State of Alaska".  Currently that is Bulletin No 11-02.  Your rate will be determined by the city which you live in or to which you are closest.

Effective January 1, 2013, the rate for reimbursement for workers compensation travel to medical appointments has been increased to 0.565 per mile.  When you request reimbursement for travel from the insurance company, you need to accumulate $100 worth of reimbursements and you need to prepare a log showing the date of travel, the places traveled from and and to and the distance.

If you were injured at work, and you think someone is following you around, you're not paranoid. Insurance companies routinely hire private investigators to follow injured workers around, videotape and photographing them. In the cases I've handled, I've discovered photos and video of my clients going to doctors visits, going to the grocery store, pumping gas, hardly suspicious activity. So talk to your friends and neighbors and if you see someone sitting in a car in your neighborhood, go up to them, introduce yourself, ask their names and call a lawyer. The insurance company is preparing to controvert your claim.

What's the point of $420K judgment? The point is that when the woman is released from jail and tries to get a drivers license, she won't be able to get one until she pays it off. She won't pay it off. She won't get a drivers license. And as soon as the police catch her driving, they can stop her and she'll end up going back to jail before she hurts someone else.

KTUU News: Woman Ordered to Pay $420k in Boy's Death