What happens if you get injured on the job and can't work? Sixty years ago you may have been forced to forfeit your wages and employment so an able-bodied worker could take your place. Today, though, companies are required by law to offer employees some sort of financial compensation for injuries sustained at or because of work, in exchange for waiving your rights to sue the company for damages. Calculating the benefits to which you are entitled is key to ensuring you receive everything your company—and the law—provides.
Calculating Compensation Benefits
Determine average weekly earnings. The average weekly earnings is the average of total earnings for the 52 weeks prior to the date of injury. Add together gross earnings from the year's paychecks and divide by 52 to determine the average earnings per week.
Determine weekly benefit rate. Individual states have laws that dictate how much weekly pay a person can claim through workman's compensation, usually expressed as a percentage of average weekly salary. For example, Alabama law states that injured workers are entitled to two-thirds of their weekly salary for the duration of their absence from work.
Divide average weekly earnings by the percentage dictated by your state's law. Using the Alabama example, an employee who earned an average of $300 per week for the 52 weeks prior to his injury would be entitled to $200 a week—two-thirds of his normal pay—in compensation benefits.
Add up total medical expenses paid out-of-pocket in connection to your injury. Under some state or company workers' compensation plans, medical expenses are reimbursed either through an insurance claim or payroll.
File your claim, and any necessary supporting documents, with your employer, insurance company, and/or state workman's compensation agency.
If you have not worked for the employer for 52 weeks, it is possible that your rate may be based on the earnings of someone in your position who has worked for 52 weeks.
Your employer may contest your workers' compensation claim if your numbers seem inflated, which may lead to a legal battle. Familiarize yourself with your state's workman's compensation laws as well as your employer's policy to make sure your calculations are in keeping with their provisions.