The correct check amount is called the compensation rate (or CR), and it should be two-thirds of your average weekly wage. The average weekly wage (or AWW) is the key number in your case. It is calculated by taking your gross pay in the job of your injury for the 52 weeks prior to the date of your injury and averaging that gross pay by the number of weeks you worked during that 52-week period.
If you have worked less than 52 weeks, then the average is determined by using the lesser number of weeks that you worked. If you have received bonuses, commissions or overtime pay during that period, then that additional income is also included in the calculation. If you have worked at the job of injury for less than approximately three months, then there might be another way to calculate your average weekly wage, depending on the exact circumstances of your case. If you recently got a promotion or a big raise, there might be another way to calculate your wages as well.
There are also special rules for calculating the average weekly wage of school teachers and other school employees who have the summer off, and for people who work in one occupation but for multiple employers over the course of the year. These special rules come into play with people who work for temporary agencies and for people such as airline mechanics who might work for a variety of different contractor companies over the course of the year.
The rules of calculating the average weekly wage can get pretty complicated and you can rest assured that the workers’ compensation insurance company will use the calculation method that reduces your compensation rate the most. If you want to make sure you are being paid fairly, then you need to be familiar with the calculation rules and you need to have evidence of your income for the 52-week period prior to your injury. If you cannot get the average weekly wage calculation worked out fairly with the insurance company on your own, then you will need to hire a lawyer to help you with that legal issue.
Once the average weekly wage is calculated correctly, simply multiply it times .6667 to obtain the compensation rate. That amount will be actually paid to you by the insurance company each week while you are disabled from working. If you ultimately resolve your case with a permanent partial disability rating, that compensation rate is also the amount that is plugged into the mathematical formula to determine how much you get for your rating. If you think that your average weekly wage and compensation rate have been calculated incorrectly by the insurance company or your employer, please contact us for a free consultation. We may be able to help you get that straightened out and put more money in your pocket.
Bob Bollinger recently won a case at the Full Commission involving a miscalculated Average Weekly Wage for a truck driver. The employer had miscalculated the wages, apparently on purpose, to undercut the driver’s compensation rate. The Commission found that the employer was not credible – in other words, that the boss was not worthy of belief – and Bob was able to get the truck driver’s AWW established as the average of his actual earnings, including a good deal of overtime pay, during the period of November to February prior to his injury. He had not worked for the company for 52 weeks, but the Commission agreed with Bob that ignoring the employer, and using the driver’s actual wages, was the proper way to calculate his benefits.
We proudly offer a free initial consultation and strategy session for anyone with a workers’ compensation claim. Call us in Charlotte at 704-377-7677 or contact the firm online to schedule an appointment with a skilled attorney.