"Average Weekly Wage" (AWW) and "Compensation Rate" (CR) are two very important numbers in your NC Workers' Compensation case. The CR is 2/3 of the AWW and the CR is the amount of your weekly check. All of your benefits are based off of that check amount. The AWW is your average gross income for the 52 weeks prior to your injury, at the employment in which you were injured. These two numbers determine the amount of your disability benefits checks, whether it is TTD (temporary total disability), TPD (temporary partial disability), PPD (permanent partial disability) or PTD (permanent total disability). It is extremely important for these numbers to be calculated correctly, as soon as possible after your injury! If they aren't, you are leaving a lot of money on the table, that you should be getting!
I talked to a prospective new client yesterday whose AWW and CR had not been calculated correctly. He had worked for the employer for about 13 weeks before his injury, and instead of using his own earnings during that period, which included overtime pay, and averaging them for the AWW number, they used the hourly earnings of a "similar employee" who apparently earned the same hourly wage but had no overtime. Well, the overtime pay counts, too! As a result of the manipulation of these numbers, this fellow was not getting the entire TTD check that he should have been getting.
About all you can do yourself is to collect all of your pay stubs for the 52 week period preceding your injury date, add up the "gross income" shown on them before any deductions, divide it by the number of weeks of earnings represented on the pay stubs, and compare that number to the AWW the insurance company has established in your case. If your number is larger, then share all this information with the insurance adjuster, and ask that your AWW and CR be recalculated. Be nice about it, as an honest mistake may have occurred. But if being nice about it does not work, then you need to call us. This is the kind of problem that we solve for injured workers.
Last year I tried a work comp case for a truck driver whose employer had used a supposedly "similar employee" to also cheat him out of his overtime benefits on his AWW. By the time I got done with the employer representative in court, he was practically slobbering on himself. I loved it. That is what makes lawyering a lot of fun! The Deputy Commissioner found that the employer representative was "not credible" and ruled our way on the calculation, which had to include our client's actual earnings, including his overtime. This increased his CR and therefore his weekly check by more than $100. That was huge for him and his family.
So, if you cannot get it fixed yourself with your pay stubs, call us and let us help you get it right. And there are a whole bunch of other little rules that affect these calculations that I have not mentioned in this article. The bottom line is this -- if you think you are being underpaid, you are probably correct. If you cannot get it fixed yourself within a couple of weeks, you will need our help to get it accomplished. Call us then --- Your family will be grateful!