Advice from your workers comp attorney: How much wage loss can I collect in Michigan?

Games insurance companies play and what your wage loss benefits really should be

Our workers comp attorneys frequently run into individuals who have no idea how much they’re supposed to be collecting in wage loss benefits after they’ve been injured at work.  Many times, they just assume that they are receiving the correct workers’ compensation rate from the insurance company and employers. But insurance companies often make mistakes – and those mistakes are never in your favor.

Beware.

Your average weekly wage is calculated by taking the highest 39 weeks of the 52 weeks before your work injury.  Your comp rate is generally 80 percent of your after-tax average weekly wage. Wage loss benefits are not subject to state or federal income taxes. This is because your workers’ compensation rate is already based upon the after-tax value of your average weekly wage.

Insurance companies in Michigan often fail to include overtime, premium pay, tips, bonus payments and the value of  fringe benefits in your average weekly wage. Health insurance is considered a fringe benefit.  Other errors that insurance companies make are failing to include all of your dependents and using the wrong tax filing status.  These errors can dramatically affect the amount of wage loss benefits that you receive.

You can also increase your wage loss benefits if you were working a second job and now cannot because of your injury.  Insurance companies will never tell you about this provision of the law.

Your Michigan workers compensation rate

Your workers’ compensation rate is fixed at the time of your injury.  It stays the same even if the economy changes, your job is eliminated or your employer files bankruptcy.  You are entitled to wage loss benefits for as long as you are disabled from work.

If you want to calculate your own workers’ compensation rate, you must obtain a copy of your wage records.   You have a right to these records,  so don’t let the insurance company or your employer tell you otherwise.  Add up the highest 39 weeks before your injury and divide this number by 39.  This is your average weekly wage.  Plug this number into the tables published by the State of Michigan and compute your workers’ compensation rate.  See the following link for the 2010 weekly workers compensation benefit tables.

Many times the insurance company or your employer will fight you on the correct workers’ compensation rate.  It is in their best interest to pay you as little as possible.  Because of a recent  Michigan Supreme Court decision called Stokes v. Chrysler, some insurance companies and employers are reducing the workers’ compensation rate based upon a hypothetical ability to earn wages in other employment.

We believe this is an incorrect interpretation of the law and you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately if this occurs.

How an experienced workers compensation attorney can help you with your lost wages

If obtaining your wage records and figuring out your own workers comp wage loss rate, seems overwhelming, take a deep breath.

An experienced workers compensation lawyer can do this all for you  – to ensure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to under the law.

Keep in mind, there’s no charge to review your wage records and ensure you’re receiving the correct workers compensation rate. To speak with one of our workers compensation attorneys, call (855) 221-2667.

Alex Berman is founder of the law firm. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain their wage loss benefits in workers compensation cases.

Related information:

What is workers compensation?

What are the Michigan workers compensation benefits?

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Anil Mohabir

01/01/2011
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