In Georgia, if you have been involved in a compensable workers’ compensation claim, you are entitled to two types of benefits – income benefits and medical treatment. When discussing income benefits, it is important to understand what is meant by the term “average weekly wage” and how the average weekly wage is calculated.
By law, there are three (3) methods through which your average weekly wage can be calculated:
- Thirteen (13) Weeks of Employee’s Earnings: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-260 (1), the preferred method of calculating an injured worker’s average weekly wage is by reviewing the worker’s wages from the thirteen (13) weeks preceding the date of the accident and then taking the average of those thirteen (13) weeks of earning. For example, if the injured worker earned $13,000.00 during the thirteen (13) week preceding his accident, then he would have an average weekly wage of $1,000.00.
- Thirteen (13) Weeks of Similarly Situated Employee’s Earnings: If the injured worker has not worked “substantially the whole” of the thirteen (13) weeks preceding the injury, then the injured workers’ average weekly wage must be calculated by using the wages of a similarly situated employee. Pursuant to O.C.G.A § 34-9-260 (2) a similarly situated employee is a person who performs a similar type of job for the same employer. If a similarly situated employee can be found, then the injured workers’ average weekly wage will be calculated based upon the same metrics above, only the wages will be those of the similarly situated employee.
- Contracted Rate of Hire: If neither of the first two methods can be utilized in determining the injured worker’s average weekly wage, then the third method of determining the injured worker’s average weekly wage is to take the injured worker’s contracted rate of hire (or their hourly wage) and multiplying that rate by the number of hours they are contracted to work. For instance, if the injured worker earns $10.00 per hour and is contracted to work 40 hours per week, then the injured work would have an average weekly wage of $400.00
Accurately determining your average weekly wage is significant in that it serves as the basis for determining what your weekly compensation rate will be. An injured worker is entitled to receive 2/3 of their average weekly wage as their weekly workers’ compensation payment — up to a maximum of $575.00 per week. Using the example above, if the injured worker has an average weekly wage of $400.00, then the corresponding compensation rate would be $266.67.
Have you or a loved one been involved in a workplace accident? It is important that you contact an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation in order to ensure that your rights are adequately represented. Contact the attorneys at Dan Chapman & Associates. We offer free case evaluations and collect no fees unless you win!