Top View Man Filling up A Work Injury Claim Form with Stethoscope

Common Misconceptions About
Workers’ Compensation

Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC Aug. 8, 2022

Every state has adopted laws that require most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. This insurance protects workers if they’re injured on the job by covering medical expenses as well as replacing lost wages due to time off work. It also benefits employers by protecting them from lawsuits their employees may file against them. 

There remain many common misconceptions about workers’ compensation that every employee should understand. At the Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC in Anchorage, Alaska, we specialize in workers’ compensation cases and can help clients throughout the state including in Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, and Palmer.

Workers’ Compensation in Alaska

Workers’ compensation in Alaska is required for employers with one or more employees, and the employer is responsible for paying 100% of this cost. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including some agricultural employees, workers in commercial fishing, real estate agents, and independent contractors. The insurance covers your medical expenses, lost wages (up to 80% of your spendable weekly earnings), and some death benefits.

Common Misconceptions

My employer might fire me if I file a claim.

Employers are legally barred from retaliation against employees who file workers’ compensation claims. When at all possible, your employer must accommodate you when you return to work if you’ve experienced a change in your capabilities due to the injury. 

I can only file a claim if my injury occurred at the job site.

This will depend on the details of your injury. In general, if you weren’t on the job site but you were performing your job duties, you will often be able to file a claim. This could happen if you were attending a training, working from home, traveling between two work sites, traveling for business, or even running an errand related to work. 

I won’t qualify for benefits if the accident was my fault.

Qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits is fairly straightforward since it’s a no-fault system. This means you can still seek compensation for an injury even if you were responsible for the injury occurring. There are some noteworthy exceptions to this rule. If the employee was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the accident occurred, they will not be able to file a claim. Additionally, some “self-inflicted” injuries will not be eligible for workers’ comp.

Injuries that occur over time aren’t eligible for workers’ comp.

Some injuries sustained at work are acute (meaning they happen immediately after an accident), but others can take some time to show up. These are usually repetitive motion injuries that can take months or even years to develop, and they are also covered under your workers’ comp insurance. 

I can only see the doctor that’s appointed to me.

When you’re first injured, you should seek medical care immediately, and it doesn’t matter who the doctor is. However, once a claim has been made, your employer may request that you see a workers’ compensation doctor, and you’ll have to comply with this. In some cases, you may be able to have a doctor of your choice approved. 

If my claim is denied, there is nothing I can do about it.

If you’re facing a denied workers’ compensation claim, you have every right to appeal this decision, and an experienced attorney can help you do this. In some cases, it could be a lack of evidence or documentation, and your denial letter should provide an explanation for the decision.

You don’t need a lawyer to file a claim.

Some people won’t need a workers’ compensation attorney to file a claim, but in other cases, it can be immensely helpful, especially if your injuries are severe or if they’re expected to last a long time. If you have any reason to believe your claim will be denied or that your employer is not looking out for your best interests, you should contact an attorney right away.

Helping You Fight for What Is Fair

Workers in Anchorage, Alaska, and throughout the state rely on the safeguards that workers’ compensation brings them, but it only works when you receive fair and adequate compensation for your injuries. If you have questions about filing a claim, reach out to us at the Law Office of Justin S. Eppler, LLC to schedule a consultation.