by Kelly D. Murphy, Esq.
As an injured worker, you may be entitled to receive lost wage payments to help offset reduced income while on “no work” or “light duty” status as a result of a workplace accident. The amount you are due is controlled by Section 440.14 of the Florida Statutes and is based on your Average Weekly Wage (AWW).
The primary method of determining your AWW is by taking an average of your weekly gross income for the thirteen weeks immediately before your work accident. If you worked two jobs during the thirteen week period, gross wages from both jobs are added together. The value of employer-paid fringe benefits, such as health insurance, will also be included in the AWW if your employer stops providing the benefit. This means your lost wage check should increase after your employer stops paying toward your health insurance.
If you didn’t work for the same employer for thirteen weeks before the accident (or if you worked significantly less hours than was customary for you), your pay rate may be based on the thirteen week wage average of a “similar employee” in the same employment. If there is no “similar employee” then your AWW may be based on your contract of hire—the stated pay rate multiplied by the amount of hours you were hired to work. Seasonal workers can often expand the thirteen week period to fifty-two weeks in order for the court to account for wages that vary greatly over the year.
The answers to the questions below may lead you to a higher AWW and increased lost wage payments:
- Before your injury, had you recently received, or been promised, a pay raise?
- Was your employer providing fringe benefits, such as health care or housing?
- Were you working two jobs before the injury, and do you have pay stubs for the second job?
- Were you injured on the job before you worked there for thirteen weeks?
- Did you work less than 75% of the total customary hours you were hired to work in the thirteen weeks before the accident?
- Are you a seasonal worker?
- Are you under 22 years of age?
You should know that the amount of lost wages owed is frequently miscalculated by the insurance company, and many injured workers find that they are owed additional past wages. If so, you may be entitled to an additional 20% penalty plus interest on late payments. Your attorney should review the payout history in your case to ensure you are receiving the amount you are rightfully due. You can help in this process by providing pay stubs for the thirteen weeks before the accident.
A $40 increase in your lost wage checks may not mean anything to the insurance companies, but it can make all the difference when bills are due and you are unable to work. Let one of our Worker’s Compensation attorneys determine whether you are receiving all the money you are entitled to.