The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is the worker’s compensation system for injured longshoremen, shipyard workers, and harbor workers in the United States. The Longshore Act is referred to as the LHWCA or US L&H.
Some injured Longshoremen and injured shipyard workers believe they don’t need a Longshore Act lawyer, they figure they can save money if they don’t have to pay Longshore Act attorney fees. These folks might want to reconsider.
Average Weekly Wage is perhaps the most heavily disputed issue for Longshore Act litigation. Longshore Act Average weekly wage (AWW) is an area where you can really lose money by being taken advantage of by the L&H insurance claims adjuster. Here is an example of what can happen if you don’t hire a good Longshore Act Lawyer for your Longshore Act claim:
Suppose you have earnings of $68,456.78 for the 52 weeks prior to your injury. Lets also suppose you are a five day a week worker and you worked 245 days the year before your injury.
Remember, under the LHWCA, the 52 weeks before your injury is always the time period from which AWW is calculated.
Most Longshore adjusters will calculate your AWW with the following basic math:
$68,456.78 divided by 52 weeks = $1,316.48
$1,316.48 x 2/3 = $877.65
The adjuster’s “simple math method” gives you an AWW of $1,316.48 and a compensation rate of $877.65.
Not exactly, if you calculate your average weekly wage by this method you might very well be leaving your family’s money with the LHWCA insurance carrier. Who do you think needs the money more – your family or the insurance company? That’s what I thought, you don’t want to be that person.
What am I talking about?
The foregoing was not the correct way to determine US L&H average weekly wage in all circumstances. Let me show you one method the US Department of Labor uses to train their Longshore Act Claim Examiners to determine AWW under the LHWCA.
First, you need to determine how many days you worked in the 52 weeks prior to your injury. For this example, you worked 245 total days the year before you were injured.
Take your total earnings for that 52 week period, in this case – $68,456.78.
Divide $68,456.78 by the 245 days actual worked.
This results in an Average Daily Wage of $279.42.
Multiple that figure by 260 days (52 weeks x 5 days a week).
$279.42 x 260 (because you are a five day a week worker) = $72,649.20.
Then divide by 52 weeks – – this results in an average weekly wage of $1,397.10.
$1,397.10 x 2/3 = $931.40.
The Department of Labor’s method gives you an AWW of $1,397.10 and a compensation rate of $931.40.
Remember if you had calculated AWW the way the L&H insurance adjuster says: you would have a Compensation Rate of $877.65 per week.
However, if you used the method that the Department of Labor recommends: you would have a compensation rate of $931.40 per week.
The resulting difference is $53.75 per week. That’s approximately $215.00 per month in lost temporary total disability monies.
For a 45 year old shipyard worker with an unscheduled disability that prevents them from returning to their usual and customary work as a shipyard welder- – – the difference can be tens of thousands of dollars in permanent disability monies and temporary total disability monies.
This average weekly wage analysis is intended to demonstrate how you can be taken advantage of by the Longshore Act insurance claims adjuster. There are more rules and circumstances which apply to average weekly wage analysis under the LHWCA. The important thing for you to take away from this article is not to rely on the Longshore Act claims adjuster for your legal advice. Because if you do – – you will usually lose money. Simple, but true.