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Personal Injury Information Center

Frequently Asked Questions About:

Frequently Asked Questions About Injury Accidents in General

How do I know I have a claim?

A potential claim exists any time you believe you have been injured as a result of the mistake of someone else. Mistake is another word for what lawyers call negligence.

When should I contact a lawyer?

The answer to this question will change depending on the severity of the injuries you have suffered. As a general rule of thumb, the more catastrophic the injuries, the sooner you should contact a lawyer. In addition to determining whether an appropriate investigation of the accident is taking place, a lawyer will be able to discuss with you the various "safety nets" that potentially exist to pay for your medical care and any lost income.

What is a statute of limitation?

Under Alaska law, there is a 2 year statute of limitation. What this means is that a person has 2 years from the date of their accident in which to either file a lawsuit or resolve their claim through a settlement. Otherwise, he has forfeited his right to compensation. Under maritime law, this time period becomes 3 years.

You should be cautioned that there may be exceptions to this general rule depending on whether the injured person is a minor, whether the facts of the mistake were not discoverable or other reasons. You will need to consult a lawyer to determine whether an exception applies.

What information should I provide a lawyer?

It is helpful to bring documents pertaining to the facts of your accident and your losses to any lawyer. This will allow the lawyer to assess your case as efficiently as possible. Documents which I ask clients to provide in advance if possible include:

1. The police or accident report.

2. Witness statements regarding the accident.

3. Medical Records.

4. Your prior year's tax return.

What losses can I recover?

Most frequently, injured person recover medical expenses, lost wages, and what are called "non-economic losses." Most persons have heard "non-economic losses" described as "pain and suffering," "emotional distress," "inconvenience," and "loss of enjoyment of life."

Frequently Asked Questions About Work Injuries

Do I have a Workers' Compensation Claim?

Yes but my office does not handle workers' compensation claims.

How does a work injury change the assessment of my case?

Unless your employer does not carry workers' compensation insurance or has not intentionally caused your injury, Alaska law does not allow recovery for employer mistakes or negligence. In order to recover for your injuries, you will need to demonstrate a mistake by someone other than your employer or a co-employee. On large construction and oilfield projects, many co-employees are, in fact, outsourced independent contractors. Again, a lawyer can advise you as to whether the mistake which caused your injury is a mistake by your employer or co-employee for which there is no recovery or a mistake by a third party for which there is recovery.

What if my Employer does not have Insurance for my Workers' Compensation Claim.

Alaska law allows an injured employee of an employer who does not have worker's compensation insurance to sue his employer. It also provides other consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions in Maritime Claims

What is the vessel owner/employer's responsibilities when a crewman is injured while working?

When a crewmember is injured while in the service of the vessel, there are three things that the vessel owner or employer is required to pay. First, he must pay for medical care. This is called "Cure." Second, he must pay daily room and board until the injured seaman reaches "maximum cure." This is called "Maintenance." Third, he must also pay wages the injured crewmember would have earned during his employment contract had he not been injured. This is called "Unearned Wages." If you are not receiving any of these payments, you should consult a lawyer.

What happens if the vessel owner/employer does not pay these amounts?

Maritime law provides a number of options to encourage vessel owners/employers to pay these amounts. Potential options include a lien against the vessel, the arrest of the vessel, an order to pay attorney fees and possibly punitive damages. However, it is complicated and you should consult a lawyer.

Is Additional Compensation Available?

As with non-maritime claims, if you can point to a mistake or equipment failure that caused your injury, you may recover additional compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions in Motor Vehicle Accidents

It is most common for a person to seek legal advice regarding a motor vehicle accident. These are the most frequently-asked questions of me following a motor vehicle accident:

1. Who will pay for the repair of the motor vehicle?

If your insurance covers property damage to your vehicle, the quickest way to have your vehicle repaired is through an immediate claim to your insurer. If you do not have this insurance, the other driver's insurer may pay for the repair immediately if there is no dispute regarding responsibility for the accident.

2. If the motor vehicle is "totaled," how much should the insurer pay for the vehicle?

If a motor vehicle is determined to be a total loss, i.e., "totaled," there is frequently disagreement regarding the Fair Market Value. I encourage persons to present newspaper advertisements regarding motor vehicle sales and opinion letters from car dealerships to make certain they are paid the full value of their vehicle. If the parties are unable to agree, the remedy for the accident victim is to file a lawsuit for the value of their vehicle.

3. Is it possible to obtain a rental vehicle while a motor vehicle is being repaired?

Sometimes your insurance will pay for a rental vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired. On rare occasions, the other driver's insurance will pay. It does not hurt to make this request.

4. Who will pay for my medical treatment while my case is pending?

Your automobile insurance may have medical payments coverage that pays for medical treatment resulting from a motor vehicle accident. If your insurance does not provide this coverage and if you do not have health insurance, there have been rare instances where the other driver's insurance will pay the medical bills.

5. What compensation does the law recognize for motor vehicle accident injuries?

Under Alaska law, an injured person is entitled to recovery of their past and future medical expenses, past and future lost income, and any other economic loss. Additionally, they are entitled to an award of non-economic loss for the pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other consequences arising out of their injuries. Spouses, parents, and children may also have claims for their emotional distress of the impact of the accident on their home life.

6. What can the accident victim do to document injuries?

I recommend that accident victims take photographs of their injuries and the damage to their motor vehicles. I also recommend that accident victims seek prompt medical treatment for their injuries, tell their physician about all of their injuries, and follow their physicians' instructions closely.

7. What happens if the responsible party either is uninsured or does not have adequate insurance?

It is not uncommon for a driver to either not have insurance or to have insurance that is clearly inadequate to provide full compensation for a serious injuries. In those cases, your insurance may provide underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. This is a complicated area of the law and should be fully discussed with your lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Falls on Ice

Under Alaska law, if a person is injured as a result of a fall on ice that the landowner has not taken reasonable measures to make safe, the injured person is entitled to compensation. Because of Alaska's long winters, these can be difficult cases. The following are the questions I am most frequently asked when a person is injured as a result of a fall on ice.

1. Who will pay for my medical treatment while my case is pending?

Often times, a property owner has Medical Payments coverage that provides a small amount of money to pay for medical treatment regardless of fault. You should specifically ask if this is the case. If this is not the case, you, or your health insurer, will be responsible for your own medical bills.

2. What should I do to document the ice conditions?

If you have fallen on ice, immediately report the accident to the landowner. If possible, take an immediate photograph of the ice conditions.

3. What compensation does the law recognize for persons injured due to falls on ice?

Under Alaska law, an injured person is entitled to recovery of their past and future medical expenses, past and future lost income, and any other economic loss. Additionally, they are entitled to an award of non-economic loss for the pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other consequences arising out of their injuries. Spouses, parents, and children may also have claims for their emotional distress of the impact of the accident on their home life.

4. What should be done to document injuries?

I recommend that accident victims take photographs of their injuries. I also recommend that accident victims seek prompt medical treatment for their injuries, tell their physician about all of their injuries, and follow their physicians' instructions closely.

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