It is necessary to establish the average weekly wage (AWW) for the year prior to any particular injury. In the simplest form, the AWW is the average weekly wage an injured worker earned for the year prior to the date of injury in the workers’ compensation claim.
If the injured worker has been employed for 52 weeks preceding the injury, the calculation is straight forward. The total wages earned for the 52 weeks will be tallied and then divided by 52 weeks. The resulting AWW figure is then used to determine the rate at which various forms of workers’ compensation benefits may be paid.
However, we find that in many situations, the injured worker may not have worked for a full 52 weeks prior to the date of the injury. In these situations, a case-by-case analysis must be undertaken to determine whether certain weeks of non-work can be excluded from the calculation. By describing the exact activities of the injured over those weeks of non-work, we can try to maximize the AWW figure.
The reasons for weeks of non-work take many forms. Prior to the injury, the injured worker may have been unemployed but looking for employment. In other situations, we find that family demands (e.g., caring for a sick relative or child) resulted in a loss of wages. In other situations, very young workers may have been working reduced hours and attending school. Each of these situations may explain weeks of non-work prior to the injury and may be used to justify a change in the normal AWW calculation method. By understanding our client’s situation during the year prior to the injury and by securing necessary evidence (usually in the form of a client affidavit), we can maximize the AWW and secure a higher rate of compensation under the claim.
If you have questions regarding the rate at which the BWC is paying compensation, it may be prudent to consider checking the AWW figure assigned to the claim to see if an adjustment can be made to increase the compensation rate.