Can I Get Workers Comp If I Have More Than One Job?
It is not uncommon for U.S. workers to hold more than one job. In fact, according to the U.S. Census, around 13 million people today are working at least two jobs. It’s not surprising then that workers would be curious about how workers’ comp benefits work when they have more than one job.
With one job, it is simple: you simply file your claim and get the medical and wage replacement benefits you need based on the extent of your injuries and how long you will be out of work. However, it becomes more complicated when you hold more than one job as there are multiple scenarios that will determine the indemnity benefits (wage replacement) you will receive.
So, the simple answer to the question above is, yes, you can get workers’ compensation if you have more than one job. The amount of benefits you receive will just depend on your individual situation.
Determining Indemnity Benefits When You Have Multiple Jobs
When an injured worker has one job, the indemnity benefits they receive are calculated based on their average weekly wage from the four weeks prior to the accident. Furthermore, the amount of that average they can receive is based on the type of injury or disability they are suffering from. For example, you could receive 66 ⅔% of your average weekly wages for up to 150 weeks for the loss of a hand.
The complication that arises in calculating your benefits when you have multiple jobs is that just because you were injured at one job does not mean your other employers should be responsible for compensating you for that injury as well. There are generally two scenarios that are possible which will determine the amount of benefits you will receive:
Your Injury Keeps You From Working One Job But Not The Others
If you are injured while working one job, and your injury keeps you from one of your jobs but not the others, your benefits will be based on the income you are still receiving. For example, if you injure your foot you may still be able to work a desk job, but you might not be able to work a job that requires you to be on your feet all day. The benefits you receive will take into consideration your average weekly wages from all jobs but will be reduced based on the amount of income you are still able to earn.
Your Injury Keeps You From Working All Jobs
If your injury keeps you from working at all of your jobs, then you should be eligible to receive full benefits that take into consideration the average income of all of your jobs combined. To determine this amount, you will:
- Total up the average hours you worked for each job in the four weeks prior to the accident.
- Then you will divide the total number of hours by four to get the average for each individual week.
- Last, you will multiply that number by your hourly rate at the job where the injury occurred.
Keep in mind that only the employer for the job where you were injured is responsible for paying these benefits. You will not receive benefits from all of your other employers. Additionally, when you total up the hours, if they average out to more than 40 hours, you will only be allowed to receive benefits up to 40 hours.
It’s also important to note that wages from other jobs will only be eligible for use in the calculations if you have workers’ compensation coverage for those other jobs as well. So even though your other employers are not responsible for paying the benefits, your wages from those jobs can still be used to determine the amount you will receive, but only if they carry workers’ comp insurance coverage. If you work freelance or as a contractor for another job that doesn’t carry workers’ comp insurance, those wages will not be used to calculate your benefit amount.
Can I Be Fired From My Other Jobs if I Can’t Work?
Another issue that comes into play when you are injured at one job but not the others is job security. While the workers’ compensation coverage at the job where you were injured does protect you from being fired while you are recovering, it does not protect you from losing your other jobs. Even if your other employers hold workers’ comp coverage, they can fire you if the injury keeps you from doing your job.
Of course, it all depends on the individual employer and the situation. If they can temporarily cover your work while you are gone, then they might not fire you. You may be too valuable to them, and it is possible that they will allow you to take the time off you need even though you weren’t injured at that job. They do, however, have the right to let you go if they decide that the position needs to be filled by someone else.
Even though the thought of losing one of your jobs can be scary, you should never force yourself to work out of fear of losing that income. Doing so may result in the forfeiture of your workers’ comp benefits from the job where you were injured. If your employer or anyone involved in the workers’ comp case finds out you are still working at another job that requires the same or similar physical effort and activities, they may decide that you are well enough to return to the position where you were injured and thus can deny your benefits.
Connect with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Claiming workers’ compensation for one job can come with its challenges on occasion, so when you are trying to collect benefits while holding more than one job, it can complicate things even further. To avoid confusion and ensure you receive the full amount of benefits you are entitled to, it’s important to work with an experienced workers’ comp attorney. They can guide you through the process and help you properly calculate your wages to get you the benefits you deserve.
For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Mississippi or Louisiana, contact Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC. After-hours visits are available.