When a Georgia employee is missing time from work because of his or her work injury, the injured Georgia employee may be entitled to weekly income benefits. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation law provides that these weekly income benefits be paid at a certain rate. (O.C.G.A. 34-9-260 and 261.) Essentially, the amount of workers’ compensation benefits depends on the injured worker’s “average weekly wage (AWW)” and the date of the injury. Generally, the AWW is the average of wages earned during the 13 weeks prior to the occupational injury. Once the AWW is calculated, the injured employee must take two-thirds of AWW to find the compensation rate. Unfortunately, as of May 2016, the maximum compensation rate cannot be more than $550 provided that the injury occurred after July 1, 2015.
If the injured GA employee did not work 13 weeks prior to the injury, the parties may consider a “similar employee’s” wages and substitute the similar employee’s wages for her own. If there is no similar employee, the parties may simply take the injured worker’s full-time wages as the AWW. (See, OCGA 34-9-260.)
It is important to have documentation of the injured employee’s wages. Generally, wages can be verified through W-2’s or check stubs. In some cases such as valets or restaurant waiters or waitresses, many of the wages come in the form of “tips.” As some of the “tips” are paid in cash, verification of those wages can be difficult.
Insurance companies are required to file a board form with the Georgia State Board outlining its calculations for determining the injured worker’s AWW if it is less than the maximum provided by law. However, many insurance companies ignore this rule and simply pay the injured employee’s whatever it wants.
At times it will take a Georgia workers’ comp attorney to get your weekly disability benefits commenced.
If you have any questions about your weekly income benefits, please contact Ramos & Law for your free consultation.