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Weekly wage may average 2 wages for workers' compensation amount

When a worker in New York City is injured at work, the injuries suffered must be covered by workers' compensation benefits, which is a basic principle of coverage applicable in all states. What happens when the worker has two jobs and is injured when off duty for his or her main job? It depends on the facts, but every worker must be covered for workers' compensation benefits by each employer for whom he or she works.

This means that when an injury occurs, for example, to a full-time employee of a municipality, but the employee was at a lesser-paying second job at the time of the injury, then the municipality generally has no liability to cover the accident. It is the second employer's insurance that must pay the employee's workers' compensation benefits. This issue arose recently in another state where a veteran fire department firefighter was injured in an "off-duty accident.

The news reports do not clearly state what they mean by an off-duty injury, but the firefighter was apparently working a lesser paying part-time job for another employer at the time  of the injury. He was employed to perform routine maintenance on a billboard, and was performing those tasks when he came into contact with high-voltage power lines. He suffered second-degree burns and a severe spinal cord injury.

The serious nature of the injuries indicates the possibility that the firefighter will never be able to return to his main job as a firefighter. A serious problem would occur if he is limited to collecting based on the lower paying outside job only. Due to that inequity, most states have a policy that allows adding the wages of the two jobs to compute the average weekly wage.

In this way, an employee in New York City may be able to collect workers' compensation benefits based on  a higher wage amount. The actual payments will be the responsibility of the second employer in most instances. The best way to determine what benefits and rights are available to a seriously injured worker is to get a free consultation with an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

Source: wacotrib.com, "Waco firefighter hurt in off-duty work accident", Kristin Hoppa, May 11, 2017

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