In Minnesota, a person is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits if he or she suffers an injury on the job. An injured worker can receive wage loss benefits (money) if their injury forces them to work fewer hours.
Determining wage loss benefits is often straight forward. The controlling factor is the worker’s Average Weekly Wage (AWW). If the injured worker is off work completely due to the injury, they get 2/3 his or her AWW. If the injured worker is working fewer hours due to work restrictions, they get 2/3 the difference between the AWW and the amount they are earning while on work restrictions.
Determining the AWW
The AWW is generally found by averaging the employee’s wages during the 26 weeks prior to the injury. Pretty easy, right? Well, most of the time.
The reality is that an employee’s AWW can be a major issue on a workers’ compensation claim. This is particularly true for injured workers that just started working for their employer. This is because the “26 weeks prior” may not accurately reflect the wage loss the person may suffer as a result of the work injury, especially for new or recently hired employees.
What if the injured worker was hurt while receiving “orientation pay,” or injured during the “training period,” or before they were eligible to receive commissions for their work? The 26 weeks prior calculation may not be a fair reflection of the wages they were in fact going to receive. Often the insurers will attempt to calculate the AWW by using this simple equation:
The total pay to the employee in the 26 weeks immediately prior to the injury, divided by 26.
The unfortunate reality is that for new employees, this often short shrifts the injured worker from the amount of wage loss benefits they should actually be receiving.
If you are a new employee and get injured at work, be aware that the simple “26 weeks prior” average may not provide you with the wage loss benefits to which you are entitled. New employees that get injured are more often shortchanged regarding wage loss benefits.
In these situations, a skilled workers’ comp attorney can advocate for an appropriate AWW, to make sure you get the wage loss benefits you deserve.