When you get hurt at work, your first thought is to get medical attention and recover. It can take a great deal of effort to ensure you see the right doctors for your injury and that their bills are paid for by your employer. But as you are dealing with the physical and emotional consequences of getting hurt on the job, you suddenly encounter a second problem. You have normal, household bills to pay but you are out of work. If you anticipate being unable to work for weeks or months, you may be wondering how you will pay your mortgage and utility bills, groceries, and clothes or other things for the kids. North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system has anticipated this type of situation and allows for people who are temporarily disabled to recover a certain amount of wages until they can get back to work. For more information on weekly wage benefits, contact the experienced Charlotte workers compensation attorneys of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A.
Overview of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system, if you are hurt doing your job, you receive medical benefits, financial help to make up for your lost wages, and rehabilitative services. A family can receive death benefits if a worker is killed. Your job covers all of these costs. But in trade, you are not allowed to sue your employer for damages related to your injuries.
All of these benefits are meant to help a worker like you get better and back to work as soon as possible. However, the process can wrong at almost any point along the way. You may need an attorney to help you file a claim, have your workers’ compensation claim approved, and ensure you receive the necessary benefits moving forward.
Eligibility for Weekly Wage Benefits
If you are disabled for a period of time due to your injury, you are entitled to receive average weekly wage (AWW) replacement benefits, also known as temporary total disability (TTD). To qualify for weekly payments, you must miss at least seven days of work. After this, you will start to receive benefits. However, you will only be paid for the first seven days missed if you are out of work for more than 21 days.
Maximum Amount of Weekly Wage Benefits
Your AWW benefit is not simply the same paycheck you would have received from the place where you got hurt. You may receive two-thirds of your average pre-injury weekly income. The North Carolina Industrial Commission only looks at wages from the job where you were hurt.
This amount cannot exceed $944 per work, according to the Industrial Commission’s maximum weekly rates as of 2016. The weekly maximum in 2017 will be $978.
How Weekly Income Is Determined
A number of cases have gone through North Carolina courts regarding how to calculate a worker’s AWW. Your AWW is determined by looking at the average gross pay you earned at the job where you got hurt in the previous 52 weeks before the injury. You will need to calculate the total gross pay you received from the past 52 weeks of pay stubs and then divide it by 52 for the AWW. If you were at that job for less than 52 weeks, add up the total amount of gross pay you received the entire time you worked there and divide it by the total number of weeks you worked up to your injury.
To be clear, gross pay is the amount of income you are paid prior to taxes and other deductions. It includes overtime, bonuses, commissions, and other allowances like housing or per day payments.
In either case, the math is not finished. You are entitled to two-thirds, or 66.67 percent, of your average weekly wage. You will need to multiply your AWW by .6667 to get your compensation rate.
Duration of Weekly Wage Benefits
Some work-related injuries only take someone away from work for a few weeks. However, a serious injury can keep a person out of work for months. Employees are entitled to weekly wage benefits for up to 500 weeks, unless they qualify for an extension.
It is important to realize the law says “when a worker is able to return,” not “when the worker returns,” to work. You may have a disagreement with your employer as to when you are capable of coming back to work. You may not feel strong or enough or ready, but your employer may use various evidence to claim you could come back to work but choose not to. In this scenario, you will need to work with an attorney and your physician to show you are not capable of returning to your pre-injury position or another position within the company.
Why AWW Calculations Matter
It is crucial to have your AWW calculated properly. You need to have as much of your income replaced as possible while you are hurt. You already have to do without one-third of your income, and this could be a significant amount for your household. Living without it can make paying your bills and putting food on the table difficult.
If You Do Not Receive Your Weekly Compensation
There are numerous reasons why you might not get your TTD when you should. It may simply be an administrative error that can be fixed right away. It might be a bigger problem. If your employer fails to pay you your weekly benefit, you can file a motion with the Executive Secretary’s Office at the industrial commission and ask for a 10 percent late penalty.
Call a Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help
If you are having trouble receiving weekly TTD payments, call the skilled worker comp lawyers in Charlotte of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A right away. In addition to our legal expertise. Ted A. Greve is a licensed physician. His legal team’s medical knowledge is thorough, allowing them to better understand the complexities of your case. We also understand how crucial it is for you to receive weekly wages to keep your family fed, clothed, and in your home. We know how financially devastating an injury at work can be, and we will do whatever we can to ensure you receive the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to.