The correct calculation of an injured workers Average Weekly Wage (AWW) is one of the most critical issues in a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation case. First, the AWW, multiplied by 2/3’s is the “comp rate” which is the amount paid weekly to a totally disabled worker. Second, the comp rate forms the basis for a determination of how much an injured workers Permanent Partial Disability rating is worth. Finally, the average weekly wage is the baseline for determining whether an injured worker has sustained a decreased earning capacity for purposes of Temporary Partial Disability.
NC Gen Stat 97-2(5) is the law that controls the determination of Average Weekly Wage in NC workers’ comp. Under that statute, there are four methods for determining Average Weekly Wage, which the courts have directed must be followed in order. First, if the injured worker has been in the job for more than a year, the Average Weekly Wage is the total amount of money earned during the 52 weeks prior to the injury divided by the number of weeks worked (excluding any periods of 7 or more days not worked). Second, if the employment was for less than 52 weeks, the AWWage is the total amount of money earned during the employment divided by the number of weeks worked. Third, if the employment is so short that it is not fair to apply the second method, then look to the wages of a similar employee. Finally, if none of the prior methods would be fair, then the AWW is the amount of money that would most closely approximate the amount of money the employee would be earning but for the injury.
Average Weekly Wage is determined based only on the employment the worker was engaged in when they were injured. Average weekly wage calculations should include all overtime and bonuses, as well as non-wage allowances such as per-diems and housing.
There are many exceptions and special rules in calculating Average Weekly Wage. If you have questions about whether your employer has properly calculated your Average Weekly Wage contact me for your free consultation with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney.