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Tampa Workers' Compensation Attorney / Blog / Workers Compensation / Determining the AWW in a Workers’ Compensation Matter

Determining the AWW in a Workers’ Compensation Matter


In 1973, the Average Weekly Wage in America was $132. By 2024, the AWW had increased to $960. Obviously, individual wages among injured workers vary significantly. Additionally, the composition of the AWW varies significantly. Wage income is not always the same thing as cash income. More on that below.

Maximum lost wage replacement benefits begin not with polished courtroom arguments, but with a calculator. AWW undercalculation is one of the main reasons lost wage replacement benefits have dropped significantly since 1973, even though the wages themselves have increased. AWW miscalculation is also one of the best reasons to have a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer in your corner. Unless victims have a legal advocate, the AWW is whatever the insurance company says it is.

Current AWW Calculation

Most of us know how to determine an average figure. We add five numbers together, divide by five, and ta-da, there’s the average.

This method is sound, even in workers’ compensation wage replacement matters. The problem is that the figure, specifically the net pay at the bottom of each paystub, is often misleading. This method fails to account for non-cash compensation, such as:

  • Housing allowance,
  • Tuition reimbursement,
  • Per diem allowances,
  • Expense reimbursement, and
  • Service discounts (e.g. free medical care if the victim worked at a hospital).

Some of these items, especially discounted services, appear nowhere on a paystub. So, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer must painstakingly reconstruct these benefits and add them to the AWW calculation.

Additionally, most insurance companies use random figures to begin the calculation. Some companies use the last six or eight paychecks while others use the last ten or twelve.

Either method could result in an inaccurate figure. Most people change jobs frequently. The money a victim earned at a previous job often has little to do with the money earned at the current job. Therefore, this money is irrelevant for AWW calculation purposes, even if the prior paychecks were very recent.

Future Income Bumps

Income varies from job to job, and at the same job as well. NFL players earn almost nothing during minicamps and training camps. They earn substantially more, to put it mildly, once the games begin.

Many job injury victims are in the same boat. Frequently, they get hurt at the end of a probationary period. So, the prior lost income doesn’t reflect future lost income. Or, the injury may come at an inopportune time and cause the victim to miss a scheduled end-of-the-year salary increase.

The AWW must account for these changes, as well as future irregular income bumps, such as lost overtime opportunities or missed performance bonus milestones.

Future income is difficult to determine in long-term permanent or partial disability matters. So, a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer often works with accountants and other outside professionals in these situations.

On a related note, the medical bill payment benefit must account for possible future medical expenses. Usually, settlements are final. If the settlement doesn’t include money for future medical expenses, the victim is usually financially responsible for these bills.

 Contact a Dedicated Hillsborough County Attorney

Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. We routinely handle matters throughout the Tampa Bay area.



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