Indiana Work Injury Claims - Recent Decision From The Indiana Court of Appeals Involving Calculating The Average Weekly Wage
In the Indiana Worker's Compensation system, an injured worker who is entitled to temporary total disability benefits (wage replacement benefits) will undoubtedly need to have an average weekly wage calculation performed. The worker's compensation insurance company typically contacts the employer and asks for verification regarding the injured worker's wages for the last 52 weeks of employment. Then, the 52 weeks of wages is averaged out to come up with the injured worker's average weekly wage.
Recently, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided the case Midwest Equipment & Supply Co. v. Garwood, 87 N.E.3d 22 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017) which involved a dispute between the injured worker and the worker's compensation insurance company regarding the proper way to calculate the injured worker's average weekly wage.
The injured worker maintained that the average weekly wage calculation should include bonuses that he had received. One bonus was based on the company's overall profit while the second bonus was based upon the injured worker's performance. The worker's compensation insurance company maintained that neither bonus should be included in the average weekly wage calculation.
The Indiana Worker's Compensation Board had decided that the bonuses should be included in the average weekly wage calculation. The worker's compensation insurance company disagreed and appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
The Indiana Court of Appeals noted that the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act, Indiana Code Section 22-3-1, et. seq. does not define what constitutes "earnings". Rather, the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act provides that the calculation be based upon the earnings of the injured worker during the period of 52 weeks immediately before the work-related injury. As a result, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the bonuses were properly included in the calculation of the injured worker's average weekly wage.
The take away from this case is that most of the times injured workers simply defer to the worker's compensation company's calculation of the average weekly wage, however, sometimes that calculation can be incorrect resulting in the injured worker receiving significantly less that he or she is otherwise entitled to under the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act.
If you are an injured worker and have questions about whether your average weekly wage was calculated properly, contact an Indiana Work Injury Lawyer. Fort Wayne Injury Lawyer Nathaniel Hubley handles Indiana Worker's Compensation claims and provides free consultations.