This post explains your Average Weekly Wage, how to calculate it, and what I need you to do now. Your average weekly wage is very important in workers’ comp cases because all of your monetary benefits are based on it.
If you are reading this, the workers’ comp insurer probably sent us a document called a wage statement that sets your average weekly wage.
It is critical that this document is accurate. You have to make sure it is using your own records. It is probably right, but you really have to double check.
Average Weekly Wage
Your average weekly wage is the average of your gross (pre-tax) weekly wages for the 14 weeks prior to the week that included the date of the accident. Remember that is your pre-tax wage, not your take home wage.
It is critical we get this right. All monetary benefits in workers’ comp cases are based on the employee’s average weekly wage. For example, your temporary total disability payments (the money you receive to replace your wages when you are totally unable to work) is 2/3 of your average weekly wage.
Obviously, if your average weekly wage is too low – you get less money!
When we first met and I filed your workers’ compensation claim, we set your average weekly wage to the best of our ability. But because most of my clients don’t actually have the last 14 weeks of their paystubs, I sometimes have to guess at the average weekly wage.
I make a good faith reasonable effort, but if I don’t have all the information, we are just estimating. The law clearly provides that you must be paid according to the actual average weekly wage – not what I put on the claim form.
Your employer is obviously in possession of your actual wage information. This is why the Workers’ Comp Commission allows them to file a wage statement with your exact payment information.
But I want you to double check it and make sure it is accurate.
If I sent you a wage statement, look at it carefully. Look at the weekly wages and the total at the bottom. Make sure they are correct. Check it against your own pay stubs.
Take the total at the bottom (total of all 14 weeks), and divide by 14, and you come up with the average weekly wage you see on the wage statement. (If you worked less than 14 weeks before your injury, they will divide by the number of weeks you did work, or they will use a “like employee.” If either of those events happens, I will be calling you to discuss it so we get this right.)
If we do not challenge their claim, this number will stand as your average weekly wage.
If you wish to challenge their claims about your average weekly wage, please find pay stubs or other documentation showing you were paid a different amount. If you were paid tips or stipends or car reimbursement, also let me know about that. That can count.
Get me whatever documentation you have, and call me to discuss.
If I do not hear from you, I will assume the insurer’s assertion is correct and your average weekly wage is as shown on the wage statement.
To be honest, the average weekly wage and wage statements are usually correct. It is a math problem and the insurer rarely tries to undercut you on this matter. But mistakes do happen – so make sure your wage statement is accurate.
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