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The Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act provides four types of income benefits for people who have a work-related injury or illness:

You can receive only one type of benefit at a time, but you may qualify for different types of benefits at different points in your claim.


You'll need to know your "average weekly wage" before you can  determine how much your Louisiana Workers Compensation income benefits should be. For most people, their average weekly wage equals their average gross wages during the four full weeks before their accident. But the basic calculation is subject to many adjustments and variations.

You will usually need to answer at least two questions to determine your "average weekly wage":

  • How much were your "gross wages?"
  • Which weeks were the "four full weeks before your accident"?

"Gross Wages": "Gross Wages" means the total amount of your pay, before deductions for taxes, social security, retirement plans, health insurance, etc. "Gross Wages" may also include taxable fringe benefits, such as the payment of some business expenses. If you're supposed to pay income taxes on it, or if it comes out of your income and goes into a pre-tax retirement account such as a 401(K), it should be counted as "Gross Wages" under Louisiana Workers Compensation law.

"Four Full Weeks Before Your Accident": Your average weekly wage is usually based upon your gross income in the "four full weeks" before your accident. If you were a full-time employee and usually worked at least 40 hours per week, the calculation may need to be adjusted if any of the following things happened in the four weeks immediately before your accident: 

  1. You had a full or partial vacation week.
  2. You worked less than 40 hours during a week due to holidays.
  3. You were laid off for part or all of a week.
  4. Your employer required you to work a reduced schedule.

If any of the items listed above affected your work schedule during the four weeks before your accident, the Louisiana Workers Compensation Act says you should be credited with a full 40-hours of income for that week when calculating your average weekly wage. While the Courts generally follow this rule, some Courts have instead excluded those weeks from the calculation. Excluding those weeks from the calculation can result in a very different "average weekly wage" calculation for your claim. This can result in very different benefit rates and a different settlement amount at the end of your case.

In most claims, you should not count the week in which the accident happened when calculating your average weekly wage because that week is usually not a "full week." Unfortunately, Louisiana Workers Compensation insurance companies often make this mistake. Including the week of the accident in the calculation usually results in a lower benefit rate, so it's important to verify that your average weekly wage was calculated correctly.

If you had more than one job at the time of your injury, your Louisiana Workers Compensation benefits are the responsibility of the employer you were working for at the time your injury happened. If your injury causes you to lose income from both jobs, your average weekly wage should be based upon your income from both jobs.

But the law contains an unfortunate surprise. If you were working two jobs at the time of your injury, your average weekly wage equals (1) the hourly rate you earned at the job in which you were injured, multiplied by (2) the total hours you worked each week in both jobs, or 40 hours per week, "whichever is less." Thus, if you were working in two jobs at the time of your injury, your average weekly wage is not necessarily based upon the higher paying job and it's only going to include a maximum of 40 hours per week. If you fall within this category, you should talk to a lawyer to see what your options are. You should also call your Louisiana State Representative and Senator and ask why the law penalizes people who work hard and have two jobs.

If you have a work-related illness (rather than an "injury"), the date of your "accident" is considered to be either the last day you worked for the employer, or the last date upon which you had a harmful exposure to the condition in your employment that cased your illness, whichever is later. You would then calculate your average weekly wage using that date as your "accident date."

Injured employees and insurance companies often disagree about the amount of the injured employee's average weekly wage. It's very common for the insurance company to want to delay paying benefits until they receive written verification of your wages from your employer. One of the most useful things you can do to get your Louisiana Workmens Compensation benefits started on time is to provide your attorney with copies of your check stubs showing your income for the weeks just before your disability began.

Even if you don't have check stubs, the insurance company is usually required to start your Louisiana Workmans Compensation benefits within fourteen days of the date your employer learns of your injury. It's important to try to fill out a written accident report so you will have evidence that shows when your employer learned about your injury. 

Next: Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD) 



David Buie, Louisiana Workers Compensation Attorney and Social Security Disability Attorney, 650 Poydras Street, Suite 1400, New Orleans, LA 70131, (800) 851-9405 / Fax: (866) 702-5297 Representing claimants in:
Alexandria Baton Rouge Bossier City Covington Gretna
Hammond Harahan Harvey Houma Kenner Lafayette Lake Charles
Laplace Marrero Metairie Monroe New Iberia New Orleans
Opelousas Ruston Shreveport Slidell Terrytown

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