One of the most important determinations in any PA workers’ compensation case is the Average Weekly Wages (AWW). As we have explained in prior blog posts, if an injured worker has been employed for over a year, and is not paid a fixed amount each pay period, the AWW is determined by dividing the year prior to the date of injury into four quarters. The top three of those quarters are then averaged. This is the AWW. The compensation rate is calculated from this figure.
For years, the Pennsylvania appellate courts have held that periods of lay off count within this calculation. The Courts have said that the “employment relationship” continues through the lay off. This often leads to a deflated AWW for an injured worker unfortunate enough to have undergone periods of lay off in the year before the injury (since those periods of lay off would be a zero for each pay period). Recently, a PA workers’ compensation insurance carrier tried to use this sword as a shield.
In Resources for Human Development, Inc. and Gallagher Bassett Services v. Sherry Dixon (Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board), the injured worker was employed by Resources for Human Development, Inc., as a home health aide. The injured worker suffered a “strain or tear” to her “multiple trunk” (their word usage, not ours) when a patient fell on her. Since the injured worker also was employed by Public Partnerships, LLP, she filed a Review Petition alleging that she had concurrent employment (so the AWW would be based on earnings from both of those jobs).