When some gets hurt on the job, one of the very first questions that gets asked is How am I going to get paid? or I am now unable to earn a living, how am I going to pay my bills?
The answer in work injury settings is never a good one. The short answer is that the injured worker’s employer is responsible through it’s workers compensation insurance carrier to pay those lost wages. However, that is where the simplicity ends.
In the workers compensation setting, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has proscribed a series of regulations used to determine how much an injured worker gets paid while he or she is unable to work. It is not as simple as continuing to get your normal weekly pay check.
The general rule is that your workers comp wages are determined by taking two thirds of your average weekly wage. This begs the question, though, what is your average weekly wage? Your average weekly wage is calculated by looking at your last three quarters of earnings and determining what your average gross weekly salary was over that time. If you did not have three full quarters of working with your employer by the time of the work injury, then you get an average of your actual earnings.
Once your average weekly wage is determined, the second step of the regulations is utilized to determine your weekly workers compensation rate. Depending on what your actual average weekly wage was, you will get a certain amount in workers comp wages. The range of wages changes annually and is proscribed by the Commonwealth Department of Labor and Industry. If your average weekly wage is $1287.00 or more, then you workers comp wages are capped at $858. This is highest rate. If your average wage is less than $476 a week, then you get 90% of you average weekly wage. If you are anywhere in between, then you get two thirds of your average weekly wage.
The next problem is that your workers compensation rate is then fixed at the rate of pay you got on the day you were injured. As long as you continue to receive wage loss benefits, the wage rate will never increase for you. In fact, even if you are out of work for a period of time, go back, to work, receive a pay raise, and then go back out of work because of your injury, your workers comp rate is still set by your wages as of the date your were injured.
Thus, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to make sure your wages are being calculated properly.