Legal Simplified - Lawyers Verified

Fighting for Alaska's Injured
With Honesty and Integrity

As AV rated Alaska Personal Injury Attorneys, we have practiced personal injury and wrongful death law across Alaska since 1952 – and we're good at it. Our values are:

  • Serving our clients
  • Enjoying our work
  • Getting paid – in that order

We fight hard and are very selective about whom we represent. We only represent people we like and trust. We don’t need you and you don’t need us. Alaska has plenty of good clients, and plenty of good lawyers. The key for us is genuinely liking/trusting the people we represent, and having them like/trust us.

As skilled Alaska Personal Injury Attorneys, we have extensive trial and settlement experience. We specialize in Injury and Death claims arising from car wrecks, and airplane crashes. We are honest, hard-working and ethical Alaskans. Call us if you need superb legal representation in any of the following matters:

  • Wrongful Death
  • Personal Injury
  • Auto Accidents
  • Airplane Crashes
  • Commercial Trucking Wrecks

We are extremely computerized, using state-of-the-art computer systems and programs. Our office is next to the Fairbanks courthouse. Attorney Ward Merdes lectures nationally on trial presentation skills for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America/National College of Advocacy. We have the best paralegal and support staff in the state.

BOTTOM LINE: We like what we do and we’re good at it. We will work hard for you, and if there is no recovery in your case, there will also be no fee.

If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced Alaska Personal Injury Attorney, call Merdes Law Office, P.C. today at 866-725-0384, or complete the contact form provided on this site to schedule your free consultation.

Practice Areas and Legal Definitions

Injury & Death Claims

Negligence: Alaska law allows claims for personal injury and wrongful death. These claims normally arise because of a person's negligence. A person is negligent when he/she failed to act reasonably, and as a result, is a "substantial factor" in causing a victim's injury or death. A good example of typical "negligence" is driving too fast for road conditions, and running into another car. Negligence can also arise for other reasons, such as an airplane crash, a doctor ignoring symptoms, or a property owner leaving premises unsafe, to name a few.

It is very important to note that negligence does not mean that a person intended to cause injury or death - only that he/she was a substantial factor in causing the injury or death. Being negligent does not make a person "bad." It does not result in a person going to jail. Rather, being negligent normally means that a person just wasn't paying close attention, and caused harm to another person. Negligence arises by simply failing to avoid an accident that common sense says should have been avoided.

Negligence Is Not A Crime
: Think about it: If a person intended to hurt or kill another person, the law would not seek monetary punishment. Rather, it would put that person in jail, where he/she belongs. The key difference between an "accident" (negligence) and "trying to hurt somebody" (a crime) is the state of mind. We don't need to put good-meaning, but negligent, people in jail because they are not a risk to society. When a person is "negligent" he/she can still be a good person, not a criminal. A negligent person just caused an accident, and must be held accountable.

Justice Equals Money: Alaska 's injury/death law is very pragmatic. Alaskan justice requires a negligent person to help the victim (or his/her family). Money equals justice in Alaska. In fact, money is the only justice that Alaskan law allows when somebody negligently injures or kills another. An injury/death claim is either: (1) settled by agreement before a jury is involved; or (2) resolved by a jury verdict after a trial. Jury trials only take place when: (1) a negligent person denies that he/she was negligent; or (2) a negligent person refuses to be accountable for all losses caused by the negligence. Realistically, the vast majority of injury/death claims are settled before a jury ever is involved. It is only when an insurance company refused to pay for all of the victim's losses that a lawsuit must be filed and a jury convened to render justice.

Social Utility: Alaska 's injury/death law serves public policy. It is only by ensuring that we are all accountable for our actions that society can continue to progress. Think about it: If we were not held accountable for driving too fast, what incentive would we have to slow down? Most folks would just buy bigger cars, and hope for the best. Or, if a doctor was not held accountable for doing the job right, what incentive would he/she have to stay current, learning more medicine? The law only asks that a negligent person fix all resulting damage so that he/she will have an incentive to be more careful in the future.

Type of Damages: Alaska allows injury/death claimants to be compensated for three basic types of loss: (1) medical bills; (2) lost income; and (3) pain/suffering.

Medical bills are normally easy for juries to calculate. Often, the parties will agree. Sometimes, the negligent person's insurance attorney will dispute chiropractic medical bills, suggesting that they are too high. Think about it, who actually goes to the doctor, just to run up medical bills? It might happen in a movie, but would an Alaskan ever do that? Would you do that?

Lost income arises from missing work, and for missing future opportunities to advance in a job. Juries normally calculate a fair amount of lost wages, past and future. Permanent injuries normally give rises to lost income for the rest of the victim's working life. Justice can require a very large verdict for lost wages.

Disability/lost enjoyment/pain/suffering are "human losses." Think about it: How much would you pay to avoid the injured person's pain for the rest of your life? In a smaller injury case, involving an automobile accident and a sprained neck or back, the "pain/suffering" component of justice may be small, as little as $10,000. At the same time, it may be larger if the suffering will last for years. It may even be hundreds of thousands of dollars if the injured person has more than 20 years of life expectancy, and significant pain. Of course, the problem is determining whether the injured person is genuinely hurting, or exaggerating. It is very important that jurors examine the injured person's medical records (usually chiropractic, showing an effort to get better) and testimony from the injured person's doctors and friends, explaining how the injury affects the injured person's life. By far and away, the largest part of any injury/death verdict is for "disability/lost enjoyment/pain/suffering." This part of justice can be many times the amount of justice required to compensate for medical bills and lost wages.

Insurance Protects: Insurance normally ensures that a victim (or his/her family) will receive justice. And, insurance is mandatory for all automobiles on Alaskan roads. However, some judges stop juries from hearing about a negligent person's insurance. These judges normally worked for insurance companies before becoming judges. They were trained to believe that if juries know about insurance, they may give the injured person a full cup of justice. A full cup of justice will cost the insurance companies money. For some reason, it is very important to some judges that they protect insurance companies. We think this is wrong. We think the focus should be on helping the injured person instead.

Deep pockets: Some people accuse lawyers of "only suing deep pockets." This means that only people with insurance or corporations get sued. This is normally 100% correct. Think about it, what kind of lawyer would advise his/her client, the victim of negligence, to sue somebody who has no money or insurance? Lawsuits are lengthy, expensive and difficult in Alaska. What kind of lawyer would tell his/her client to file a lawsuit that had no chance of rendering justice because the negligent party has no money and no insurance? Be assured, only deep pockets get sued in Alaska. More importantly, because Alaskan law requires insurance, nobody will get hurt by a lawsuit that results in a victim receiving full justice.

If you are ever asked to be a juror, be assured that the negligent party has insurance, you'll just never hear about it in court.


If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced Alaska Personal Injury Attorney, call Merdes Law Office, P.C. today at 866-725-0384, or complete the contact form provided on this site to schedule your free consultation.

Attorney Profile

Attorney Ward Merdes

EDUCATION:

  • ATLA/NCA Advanced Studies in Trial Advocacy, 2006
  • Trial Lawyers College (TLC), 2003
  • Cornell University - Johnson School of Management, MBA, 1990
  • Santa Clara University, J.D. (cum laude), 1988
  • Santa Clara University, B.S. in Economics, 1985

JURISDICTIONS LICENSED IN:

  • Alaska
  • Washington
  • California

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ACHIEVEMENTS:

  • Licensed to practice law in State and Federal Courts
  • Alaska and American Bar Associations
  • President's Club Member - Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA); Faculty - Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)
  • Former Director - San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association
  • Director - Alaska Academy of Trial Lawyers - (AKAJ)Alaska Association of Justice - former governor
  • Alaska State Coordinator, National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA)

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS:

  • Certified Specialist: National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA)
  • Certification: Advanced Studies in Trial Advocacy (ASTA) - National Level, Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)
  • Diplomate: Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)

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