What is the Average Weekly Wage?
If you're injured at work and your employer has workers' compensation coverage, you become eligible to receive benefits. Of course, these benefits are subject to conditions and statute, but know that they exist to help you after the accident.
The most important category of benefits is called Income Benefits. Income Benefits make up for your lost wages, since you've taken time off of work. However, not everyone receives the same amount of Income Benefits. The amount your receive is based on a metric called your Average Weekly Wage. In this article we'll explain what the Average Weekly Wage is and how it works.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What exactly is the Average Weekly Wage used in Workers' Comp cases?
- How is the Average Weekly Wage calculated?
- How does my Average Weekly Wage impact my Workers' Comp coverage?
What "Average Weekly Wage" Is in Workers' Comp
As the name implies, your Average Weekly Wage is the amount that you typically earn in a week. In order to standardize how this amount is calculated, lawmakers built the formula into the law.
Sec. 408.041. AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE. (a) Except as otherwise provided by this subtitle, the average weekly wage of an employee who has worked for the employer for at least the 13 consecutive weeks immediately preceding an injury is computed by dividing the sum of the wages paid in the 13 consecutive weeks immediately preceding the date of the injury by 13.
We mentioned above that it is usually determined by the worker's last 13 weeks of pay. However, there are always exceptions, as not every injured worker has worked at their current job for 13 weeks.
- If an employee has been employed for 13 or more consecutive weeks, then his average weekly pay is calculated by adding up all of his pay for the 13 weeks preceding the injury and dividing it by 13. For example, if a person has made $6,500 total in the 13 weeks preceding his injury, his average weekly pay would be $6,500 divided by 13, or $500. But, you knew this part already.
- Now secondly, what if an employee hasn't been working there for the past 13 weeks, and say he's only worked for the past 10? The statute answers that question. See the quoted Texas Labor Code below:
(b) The average weekly wage of an employee whose wage at the time of the injury has been fixed or cannot be determined or who has worked for the employer for less than the 13 weeks immediately preceding the injury equals:
- the usual wage that the employer pays a similar employee for similar services; or
- if a similar employee does not exist, the usual wage paid in that vicinity for the same or similar services provided for remuneration.
In this case, the average weekly pay is calculated by determining what the employer pays an employee with a similar position. For example, if an employee is working as a construction laborer for 4 weeks before he is injured, his average wage would be determined by finding what other construction workers are paid within that same company. So if other construction workers are paid $400 a week, then that's what his weekly pay is considered to be.
Average Weekly Wage is Just a Part of Income Benefits Formula
Once your Average Weekly Wage is determined, your workers' comp insurance carrier should be able to calculate the compensation owed to you for your lost wages. However, like we mentioned above, the Average Weekly Wage is just a portion of the formula for determining your Income Benefits. For more info, read in depth here about Income Benefits.
And there's a catch...
If your Average Weekly Wage is too high, your compensation will be capped at what's called the State Average Weekly Wage. This is the weekly wage that the average Texan makes. You might be thinking that it's not very fair to be paid less than what you were making beforehand, but that's a whole other issue altogether. Just remember this, if you know the formulas, you'll know what you're supposed to be paid.
A Texas Workers' Comp Attorney Can Help your Get the Most Compensation
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you should contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney to discuss your case. Grossman Law Offices has helped many clients determine their rights under the law and have helped them receive the compensation that they deserve. Call today for a free consultation regarding your work injury claim at (855) 326-0000.
Other articles about worker's compensation that may be helpful to you:
- How Do Workers' Compensation Benefits Work for Part-Time Employees?
- Understanding the Self-Inflicted Injury Defense
- How Long Do I Have to File a Workers' Compensation Claim?