Alaska is the largest state, containing pristine wilderness and bustling cities. Perhaps you had a hunting accident; it might have been a motorcycle injury. Maybe you are facing a new normal now, or maybe you're wanting to help out a family member or friend who needs a support system. If you or a loved one has had an accident and are bringing a personal injury suit in the state of Alaska, Enjuris has answers.
Alaska Personal Injury Cases & Accident Info
Alaska statutes online
This is where you'll find the state of Alaska's laws, which determine how long you have to bring a lawsuit, any caps on damages you can claim, and so on.
Alaska instituted tort reform in a 1997 statute that places a limit on non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering, mental anguish). According to AS 09.17.010, in personal injury or wrongful death cases, non-economic damages shall be limited to "pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and other nonpecuniary damage." Damages arising from a single injury cannot exceed $400,000 or the victim's life expectancy multiplied by $8,000, whichever is greater. There is a total cap of $1 million or the plaintiff's life expectancy multiplied by $25,000, whichever is greater.
In terms of punitive damages, or damages intended to punish a defendant, these cannot be leveled against an Alaskan municipality. See AS 09.50.280. In other cases, punitive damages are three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. See AS 09.17.020(f). However, if the wrongful act was motivated by financial gain and where "adverse consequences of the conduct were actually known by the defendant or the person responsible for making policy decisions on behalf of the defendant," then punitive damages are capped at four times the amount of compensatory damages, $7 million, or four times the aggregate amount of financial gain the defendant received. This type of reward is determined by a separate trial, and 50% of the punitive damage award will be given to the state's general fund. See AS 09.17.020(a), (e) and (j).
Punitive damages (to punish for malice or ill intent)
No punitive damages against a municipality. Otherwise, 3X the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. If act motivated by financial gain or with knowing intent, capped at $7 million, with 50% going to state in a separate trial.
Claims against a municipality, such as a town, city or county
No punitive damages against a municipality. Municipality or its employees cannot be sued if claim is based on performance or failure to perform discretionary function, even if the discretion is abused.
Northern Power & Eng'g Corp. v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., 623 P.2d 324 (Alaska 1981)); punitive and noneconomic damages limited (Sec. 09.17.020 and Sec. 09.17.010)
Hiring a lawyer in Alaska
Consultations for personal injury representation – at least the first meeting, during which you and the attorney are deciding upon an official relationship – are usually free of charge. After that, lawyers work on contingency. This means that their office will receive a third of whatever the client receives, plus office expenses.
If the case goes to trial, sometimes the number rises to 40% of the eventual reward or judgment. These numbers aren't set in stone, so don't be taken aback if your lawyer suggests something different. Do be taken aback if those numbers are very, very different.
Alaska becomes the first state to empower judges to take animals' well-being into consideration during custody cases (HB 147)
K.L. v. State of Alaska, 2012 WL 1141650: Prior to this decision, a transgender person in Alaska was allowed to change the sex designation on his or her license, but only after expensive and risky surgery that many transgender people do not want to undertake. K.L. managed to prove this practice unconstitutional and a violation of her right to privacy.
Sturgeon v. Frost, 768 F. 3d 1066 (2016): A moose hunter was detained by federal authorities while using his hovercraft in the national park system. The hunter claimed the federal government overstepped its authority, and the highest court in the land agreed. When you search for "Alaska's most important cases," links to news stories with various headlines like "U.S. top court sides with moose hunter in Alaska hovercraft case" are what comes up.
Law libraries in Alaska
The law libraries in Alaska operate within the Alaskan court system. That means no matter where you live or where your case is – Anchorage or Wrangell – you will have a library at your disposal. These are great resources, as law librarians are generally legally trained and eager to help. The library will also have expensive research programs like LexisNexis and Westlaw available for you to use.
Stats and data
Looking for some interesting info to drop at your next cocktail party? Look no further!