Thursday, May 19, 2011

What can be included in my average monthly wage?

As we have discussed previously, any compensation that is paid to a worker injured on the job in Arizona is based on a percentage of that worker’s “average monthly wage” at the time of his or her industrial injury.  In previous blog posts, I have discussed how the average monthly wage is calculated.  This post will deal with what kinds of benefits, other than salary, can be included in the calculation of the average monthly wage. 

I had an interesting case today where a potential client was given a vehicle for his personal use, in addition to his salary.  The carrier calculated his average monthly wage using only his salary.  Because I consider the personal vehicle an additional item to which a monetary value can be attached, I am of the opinion that the value of that personal vehicle can be included in the calculation of this man’s average monthly wage.  Another very typical scenario is the example of where an apartment maintenance worker is given a free apartment in addition to his salary.  In those cases, it is very clear that the value of the rent of that apartment can be included in the calculation of the wage.  At the same time, however, if the employer continues to provide the additional benefit such as vehicle or housing after the industrial injury, the insurance carrier can take a credit for the cash value of that item as long as it continues to be provided by the employer. 

As I have also discussed previously, earnings from other jobs apart from the employer where the worker was injured, can also be included in the average monthly wage calculation.  These are called concurrent earnings.  In order to be considered concurrent earnings, those wages have to be earned for an employer who is covered under the worker’s compensation act. 

Because the average monthly wage dictates the amount of compensation that you will receive for the rest of your claim, it is very important that it be calculated correctly.  I always advise injured workers to seek the counsel of an experienced worker’s compensation attorney with any questions about their claims. Contact us at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley today.

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