by The Bainbridge Firm, LLC | Mar 21, 2017 | Temporary Total Disability Compensation
Often we are asked by clients, “how much compensation will I receive?” The answer to that question almost always depends on the injured worker’s average weekly wage and full weekly wage. For that reason, it is extremely important to understand what your average and full weekly wages are, how they differ, and how they are calculated.
Average Weekly Wage (AWW)
As its name eludes, the average weekly wage is meant to represent the total amount of money an injured worker would make in a typical work week. In general, to calculate the average weekly wage, the injured worker’s total earnings for the year prior to the date of injury are divided by 52, the number of weeks in a year. For example, take an individual who earned $28,500.00 in the year prior to their injury, that individual would have an AWW of $548.07, $28,500.00 divided by 52.
However, the standard calculation is not the only method of determining the AWW. Certain “special circumstances” warrant the AWW to be calculated using a different formula. Some injured workers may not have worked for a full 52 weeks prior to their injury due to a variety of circumstances. If there is a period of unemployment in the year prior to the date of the injury that was caused by circumstances beyond the injured workers’ control those periods can be excluded from the calculation.
Take for example an individual who gives birth to a child in January. That individual, being without the ability to get daycare for their newborn takes off work through April to care for the child. On the first of May, they go back to work and work until the end of December when they get injured on the job. In that period between May and December, they earn a total of $14,250 in wages. Because the individual was not able to work for four months due to circumstances beyond their control, the AWW calculation would be altered. In this case, the proper calculation would be to take the total wages of $14,250 and divide that by 36 for an AWW of $395.83. The 16 weeks from January through April where the individual was off caring for their child would not be included in the calculation.
Any time that an altered calculation is being requested there must be evidence to substantiate that request. The underlying goal when determining the AWW is to reach an amount that does substantial justice to the injured worker by reaching a number that adequately represents what is earned in a normal week.
Full Weekly Wage (FWW)
The Full Weekly Wage (FWW) is used to determine the injured worker’s rate of pay for the first twelve weeks of temporary total compensation. There are two basic ways the FWW can be calculated:
- Gross wages (plus any overtime) earned over the six weeks prior to the injury divided by six.
- Gross wages (excluding any overtime) earned over the seven days prior to the injury.
Whichever one of these calculations results in a higher amount then that is the calculation used to set the FWW.
The AWW and FWW are extremely important figures in the workers’ compensation system as they set the baseline for compensation paid out in a claim. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that the AWW and FWW calculations are done properly as to provide substantial justice to the injured worker. If you feel as though you have not received an AWW or FWW that truly represents the wages you earned prior to a workplace injury do not hesitate to contact the Bainbridge Firm so that we may help you obtain a proper calculation. We want to do everything we can to help you obtain all the compensation you deserve.
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