You are paid temporary total disability benefits when the greater weight of the medical evidence establishes that you are totally unable to work and you have not returned to work or the doctor has not placed you at maximum medical improvement (your condition is as good or bad as it is ever going to be). Temporary total disability benefits should be paid to you based on 2/3rd's of
your average weekly wage for the 52 week period preceding the date of your injury. These benefits are paid from the date that the doctor takes you off work until you either: a) return to work or b) reach maximum medical improvement.
You are paid temporary partial disability benefits when the doctor places restrictions on your activity such that you are able to return to work before you have reached maximum medical improvement but you are unable to perform your normal job and are receiving a lesser wage. Temporary partial disability benefits should be paid to you in an amount equal to 2/3rd's of the difference between your average weekly wage before the date of injury and your average weekly wage after you return to work under the doctor's restrictions. This would be paid to you until the restrictions were lifted or you reached maximum medical improvement.
You may be entitled to an award of permanent partial disability benefits if you have permanent restrictions or permanent anatomical disability that limit your ability to work. An award of permanent total disability would be appropriate where an injury has left you with permanent injury or restrictions that prevent you from ever returning to work, based on your age, education, vocational training and certain other factors.
Whether you are entitled to temporary total, temporary partial, permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits, your weekly rate of compensation is based on your average weekly wage for the 52 weeks (1 year) preceding the date of your injury.
When a worker is injured on the job, he or she should carefully check the amount of wages that he/she has received during the 52 weeks preceding the date of the accident. If an employer purposefully or negligently includes the wages of a week when you were off work and made less than normal wages for a given week, that 'lesser' week's wages could drive the amount of the average weekly wage down and, consequently, the amount of your weekly workers comp rate.
If the worker did not work for an entire week and earned no wages, he or she should make sure that the employer did not include a $0.00 figure in the averaging calculations. Further, the wages from any week that is clearly not a normal work week in terms of hours worked and wages earned should not be included in the average weekly wage calculations.
Let me give you an example. Let's say that "Joe" is injured on 1/1/2012. He earned $46,512 during the 52 weeks before 1/1/2012. Further, a review of his payroll records indicate that he did not work and was not paid for a 2 week plant wide layoff in July of 2011 and was then off for a personal illness for one week in September, 2011. His average weekly wage should then be $46,512 divided by 49 weeks worked (52 minus the three weeks he did not work and was not paid) equals $949.22. 2/3rd's of $949.22 (.6667 x $949.22) equals $632.84. In this example, the worker should insist on being paid weekly benefits of $632.84
Always make sure that you are being paid the correct amount of weekly benefits when you are injured on the job. If you have any questions about the amount you are being paid under a workers compensation claim, please call the office and let us make sure that you are being paid properly. As always, the call and the initial consultation will be free of charge. If you need representation, remember that you will not be charged a fee unless you get a great settlement. Count on it.