One of the key factors in a workers’ compensation claim is accurately determining an employee’s average weekly wage (AWW), and in turn compensation rate. The AWW reflects not only the present earning capacity but the probable future earning loss for the employee.
According to the S.C. Code §42-1-40, when a worker has been employed over a year, the gross income earned four quarters preceding the quarter in which the injury occurred will be averaged within fifty-two (52) weeks. Bonuses and overtime hours must be included in determining the AWW. If an employee held several jobs at the time of the accident, the AWW also comprises the amount earned at each employment. It is the responsibility of the employee to notify the carrier (insurance company) of any provable financial loss.
Secondly, when an employee has worked for less than a year, there are two possible ways that the AWW can be computed. The carrier takes the total wages earned by the individual and divides the amount by the total weeks worked. If an employee has worked minimally, the employer can attribute to the injured employee the wages paid to a worker of the same grade and employment working in the same locality. The cases which might require this method include those wherein the employer made cash payments.
Once the AWW is determined, the compensation rate equals 66 ⅔% of the amount. However, the compensation rate cannot exceed the preceding fiscal year stated by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. For injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2014, the maximum compensation rate is $752.16.
In determining a future settlement, the compensation rate plays a major role in the formula. For this reason, an employee must pay close attention that the carrier takes into account all wages earned. The carrier produces a Form 20 which delineates the breakdown above-referenced.
For any further questions you might have, feel free to contact us via e-mail to [email protected] for workers’ compensation questions or call us directly to (864) 232-4273.