Wednesday, November 18, 2015
If you get hurt at work badly enough to miss time, you may eventually run across the term “average weekly wage” or “AWW.” What is it and why does it matter? It is a kind of “index” of your earnings in the time frame that is considered relevant under the law for measuring the loss of earnings that you deserve under the applicable workers’ compensation system. Once you calculate “AWW,” your weekly wage replacement check from the workers’ compensation insurance company will be based on AWW. In most systems your weekly wage replacement (also called “indemnity”) check will be 66-2/3% of AWW. If you have a job where your earnings are the same week in and week out, you can just think of it like this: “If I get hurt at work and can’t work, the insurance company should pay me 2/3 of my normal pay.”
If you have a job where your earnings go up and down, AWW creates an average by looking backward from your date of injury at your previous paychecks. Usually you look back 6 months, or one year, average all those paychecks, and there’s AWW. Sometimes you leave out low weeks, or zero weeks, and sometimes you don’t. Calculating AWW can be its own special art form in a complicated case.
“Concurrent earnings,” or what you might call “working more than job,” is just like “normal” AWW–you just calculate AWW from all of your jobs combined. (Look here for more on Concurrent Earnings.) The effect is to “boost” your AWW so that it reflects earnings from all jobs, not just the one you were working in when you got hurt. Higher AWW means higher indemnity payments. And because other things in workers’ comp are based on AWW, it may mean higher compensation for permanent impairment (look here for an explanation of permanent impairment) and perhaps other benefits too.
Bottom line: If you are hurt at work and miss work time from your injuries, be sure that you tell your lawyer about ALL jobs you worked at the time you got hurt, even if you weren’t scheduled to work your second (or third or fourth) job on the day you got hurt.