Gilbert Fisher: When you get injured at work, aside from the injury itself, probably the next most critical issue is lost time from work and financial issues that arise from that. Workers' compensation is designed to provide an injured worker who is off work as a result of an injury with a benefit called temporary disability. And that temporary disability is supposed to pay every two weeks, a check, that represents two-thirds of the injured worker's average weekly wage.
So, in some cases, that can be pretty simple, you know, if you have a straight hourly wage, and you work 40 hours a week, you just take two-thirds of that. You're making $300 a week, you get $200. If you're making $600 a week, you get $400, etc. There's a statutory minimum and maximum to that benefit, but within those limits it's pretty simple. But for a lot of people it can be a fairly complex calculation. Sometimes people work a lot of overtime, and their hours vary from week to week. So what the law says in that regard is that you're supposed to look at the 52 weeks prior to the injury and take an average.
If an employer, for example, reports to the insurance company that you make whatever, $12 an hour and you work 40 hours a week, the insurance company is probably going to calculate two-thirds of that and send you that check. You'll find that it's not very much money because you were working 50 hours a week, or 55 hours a week and getting overtime and sometimes double time, and that can be pretty stressful to have what is a significant cut in pay. Well, the insurance company is actually supposed to pay two-thirds of the average weekly wage, which would include all of that overtime. So, if the insurance company is not paying you correct, you have to gather that information for the one year prior, and show them, "I was making more money."
Other people have other scenarios that also present issues. For example, sometimes people work two jobs, and so you get hurt at work and you're unable to work either job, and again your employer reports how much you were making and the insurance company starts paying benefits, but they don't know that you were also working four hours each evening at another job. So you have to get together that information and provide it to them, and they are required to pay you for your two-thirds of your average weekly wage, including other jobs. A lot of people don't realize that.
Other cases, people who work on commission, sometimes people who have for example, maybe they're a farm laborer and the farmer provides them with a house. That house has some market value, and they might be, it's a case-by-case basis, there are some specific facts that apply, but they might be able to include the value of the housing provided by the employer in the calculation of the average weekly wage. So, whenever someone gets injured, it's always a good idea to consult with an attorney, go over your situation, what your earnings are and allow someone who has experience and knows the rules to make sure that you're getting every penny that the law says you're entitled to when you're off work for a work injury.
Narrator: If you or a loved one need help with a workers' compensation issue, call our office today.