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The SD Supreme Court recently issued a decision in Patricia Wheeler v. Cinna Bakers LLC d/b/a Cinnabon and Hartford Casualty Insurance Company 2015 S.D. 25.
On May 6, 2015, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the above-referenced matter. The following issue was addressed: When calculating average weekly wage, do you consider wages from other jobs?
In this result-oriented decision, the Court held that a claimant is allowed to include earnings from other jobs when calculating AWW. The Court interpreted the definition of "earnings" used to calculate AWW in Claimant’s favor, finding that "earnings" were the sum of all wages from all of claimant’s employments no matter the type. As you can imagine, the effect of this will likely require an employer to pay higher rates to cover an employee’s other job or lost income-earning ability. The Court acknowledged this fact, but found that it is more appropriate for the employer/insurer to bear this burden rather than the claimant.
The Court did not address two prior cases expressly holding wages could not be combined. In doing so, the Court called his an issue of first impression instead of overruling the older cases. This likely means the case will be applied retroactively to all open files.
If you questions regarding this case, please contact Charlie Larson at 605-336-2424 firstname.lastname@example.org