In the Minnesota workers’ compensation system the date of an injured employee’s injury is a controlling event. Because the work comp laws have changed from year to year, the courts look at the law in effect at the time of the injury. Therefore, the law in effect at the time of the injury affects the amount and type of benefits available to the injured employee. Thus, an injured employee’s average weekly wage is determined by what he or she was earning at the time of the injury.
An employee’s average weekly wage is calculated by averaging an employee’s gross weekly pay for the 26 weeks preceding the date of injury. Adjusters and insurance companies frequently miscalculate this amount and therefore, employees may not be receiving the full amount of wage loss benefits he or she is owed.
Common insurance company and employer mistakes in calculating an injured employee’s average weekly wage include:
(1) Not including overtime pay—if an employee frequently or regularly worked overtime then overtime pay should be included.
(2) Not taking into account an employee’s second job—if an employee worked multiple jobs at the time of the injury then the average weekly wage includes wages earned from the other employers.
Unfortunately for many workers who were injured years before and are now unable to continue working as much or in the same capacity as a result of his or her injury, the average weekly wage does not account for wage increases the employee may receive or did receive subsequent to the injury. So while you may be earning substantially more now, because the law is based on the date of the injury, your compensation rate may be much lower. Minnesota Statute 176.645 provides for adjustments based on the fact that the cost of living increases over time. This adjustment may be relatively minimal.
At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we request wage records on behalf of our clients and do our own calculations in order to ensure that the employee is not being underpaid as a result of an adjuster or insurance company’s error. We may also request that you provide paystubs from other employers if you were working two jobs or tax documentation so that we may request formal wage information from them, if necessary.
Employment situations where we commonly see issues with average weekly wages include:
• Seasonal workers
• Employees who switched from part time to full time work
• Construction workers
For some employees who work irregular schedules or hours, the AWW calculation is different and is based on an “average daily wage.” The total amount of gross earnings, including vacation and holiday pay, for the 26 weeks is added together. Then the employee calculates the total number of days actually worked during that same period, including paid vacation and holidays. The total gross earnings is divided by the actual number of days worked to find the Average Daily Wage. The total number of days worked during that 26 week period preceding the injury is then divided by the number of weeks the employee worked during the time period to find the average number of days worked each week. The Average Daily Wage is multiplied by the average number of days worked each week to find the Average Weekly Wage.
If you believe that your employer has miscalculated your wage loss benefits or simply want to double check, contact an attorney at Meuser Law Office, P.A. today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle Minnesota workers’ compensation cases on a daily basis and are very familiar with the most current laws and calculations to determine your average wage. We will ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled.