Earlier this year, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) reached a decision in the case of Cory Sather, Applicant v. Trion Solutions, Inc.,—a dispute over the proper calculation of average weekly wages for workers’ compensation benefits. The WCAB concluded that the employer/insurer should have included a worker’s impending raise when calculating workers’ compensation benefits. Here, our Sacramento workers’ compensation defense attorney provides an in-depth analysis of the decision.
WCAB Case Review: Cory Sather, Applicant v. Trion Solutions, Inc.,
In California, an employee who is forced to miss time on the job due to a work-related injury or illness has the right to seek temporary disability benefits. These are effectively wage replacement benefits. Employers/insurers have a duty to ensure that they are calculating temporary disability benefits properly. Temporary disability benefits are calculated at two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly wage up to a state-mandated maximum available benefit.
There are sometimes disputes over the proper calculation of a worker’s average weekly wage. In the case at issue before the WCAB, a worker named Cory Sather sustained an eye injury, hearing damage, and a psychological injury while operating heavy machinery for the employer. A workers’ compensation claim was filed, and a stipulation was reached to provide the applicant with $533.60 per week in temporary disability benefits.
A workers’ compensation dispute arose because the employer/insurance company did not consider the applicant’s impending raise when calculating the average weekly wage. According to court records, Mr. Sather was set to receive a 10% raise shortly after the date of the injury. The claim contends that, even though a stipulation was reached, the employer/insurer had a proactive duty to ensure that the average weekly wage calculation was accurate and reflected the future raise.
On review, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) ruled in favor of the applicant. The WCAB determined that the employer had a proactive duty to ensure that the impending raise was accounted for in the average weekly wage calculation. Even though an erroneous stipulation was agreed to by the parties, the WCAB noted that the employer knew or should have known about the proper wage calculation and therefore, could be held responsible for paying that amount in temporary disability benefits.
The Takeaway: Employers, claims administration professionals, and insurance providers should take care to properly calculate a worker’s average weekly wage when calculating their workers’ compensation benefits.
Speak to a Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyer in Central California
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our California workers’ compensation defense attorney is a diligent, effective, and solutions-driven advocate for clients. If you have questions about how average weekly wages are calculated, we are here to help. Contact our law firm now to set up a completely confidential, no obligation appointment with an attorney. We provide workers’ compensation defense representation in Sacramento, Sacramento County, and throughout the whole region of Central California.