When a workers’ compensation claimant does not provide enough evidence to calculate his or her average weekly wage based on the statutory methods, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) may use a common sense approach. In William Stone v. All Seasons Painting and Decorating, Board No. 018409-08, a worker was seriously hurt when he fell from a ladder while applying exterior paint to a Springfield home. As a result of his workplace accident, the man sought workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. Although an ALJ found that the man’s injury merited total incapacity benefits, there was limited evidence available to determine his average weekly wage.
At a workers’ compensation hearing, the man established that he agreed to accept about $1,000 from his employer to paint the home. The employee also stated that he fell from the ladder after working on the project for less than two days. Following his injury, the employer terminated the man and paid him $500. The worker claimed that he earned $8,000 during the previous year painting homes and performing a variety of other jobs. As a result of the evidence offered at the hearing, the ALJ determined that the worker was engaged in seasonal work at the time of his accident. Since such a determination requires that an employee’s average weekly wage be calculated by dividing a worker’s earnings during the previous year by 52, the ALJ found that the man’s average weekly wage was about $150.