In Georgia, workers’ compensation wages are calculated based on state law. In simplest terms, your benefit payment will be the average of your weekly salary over a 13-week period. The law clearly states how the weekly benefit rate is calculated.
There are two terms that are important to define when discussing weekly benefits in workers’ compensation claims.
AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGEThe average weekly wage is the gross wages upon which the weekly benefit rate will be calculated.
COMPENSATION RATEThe compensation rate is the actual weekly benefit received by the injured worker.
The compensation rate is two-thirds of the calculated average weekly wage. There is a maximum benefit of $675.00 per week for accidents after July 1, 2019. The maximum rate is lower for dates of an accident prior to July 1, 2019.
How is average weekly wage calculated?
State law (O.C.G.A. Section 34-9-260) defines how the average weekly wage is calculated. One of the key factors is the length of time an employee has been with the company.
- If an injured worker worked for the employer for the majority of the 13 weeks before the accident date, the average weekly wage is calculated as one-thirteenth of the total amount of the wages earned on the job during the 13 weeks. Some disputes may arise if the employee did not work full weeks during that time.
- If the employee did not work the full 13 weeks prior to the accident, then the average weekly wage will be calculated based upon the 13 weeks of wages of a “similarly situated employee.” A similarly situated employee is an employee in the same job function who worked the majority of the 13 weeks prior to the injury.
- If neither of these methods can be fairly used, the full-time weekly wage of the injured employee is used. Working with an expert attorney ensures you receive every penny you are entitled to under the law.
What is the Role of a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
The calculation of the average weekly wage can lead to a debate between counsel for the injured worker and the insurance company. Our job is to fight for the highest possible average weekly wage for our client, while the insurance adjuster wants the lowest payment. Often, average weekly wage issues can lead to litigation. At Sadow & Froy, we are ready, willing, and able to fight for your rights for fair and equitable compensation!
The average weekly wage isn’t just based on salary. Bonuses, commissions, and fringe benefits are also used to calculate benefits. Further, if an injured worker has more than one job, the wages from the second job can be considered. The work must be of the same nature as the work performed for the employer where the injury occurred. Again, this can give rise to significant disagreement over the correct amount of weekly benefit payments.
Once the average weekly wage is determined, the compensation benefit is then set at two-thirds of the average weekly wage. The weekly benefit payments, once started, are paid within the pay period. If payments are not timely, penalties can be assessed to the employer.
How worker’s compensation wages are calculated can be complex, but it is a very important step in the handling of a workers’ compensation claim. It is critical to speak to an expert in the area of workers’ compensation to determine if you are being paid properly under the law. The average weekly wage is utilized in every calculation in the claim, therefore, its accuracy is vital to ensure that the injured worker receives the maximum benefit under the law.
Sadow & Froy is dedicated solely to representing injured workers in workers’ compensations cases. The lead attorneys are both highly respected in the field, having received many awards and been named to several “Best of” lists including Atlanta Magazine’s Super Lawyer lists. To see if your case qualifies for workers’ compensation, visit our website for a free evaluation.