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About Athens Administrators
Athens Administrators is a TPA for workers’ compensation and liability claims. We have successfully administered claims for more than 30 years. Our clients include public agencies, regional businesses, insurance companies and Fortune 500 companies. We provide workers’ compensation and liability claim administration services.
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• Established 1976
The Duncan Case
What you Should Know
In November 2009 the 6th District Court of Appeal handed down a decision on the (Duncan v. WCAB) case. The end result of this decision, if it stands, will be that the claims that are already the most severe and overall costly will become increasingly severe and costly. These are the Total Permanent Disability & Life Pension claims.
Why this is Important
Claim costs continue to rise, fueled in part by regulated escalating benefit rates that are largely driven by automatic annual increases and Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). The Duncan case specifically impacts the Cost of Living Adjustments for Total Permanent Disability & Life Pension claims.
The Labor Code states that the benefit payments should be "increased annually commencing on January 1, 2004, and each January 1 thereafter." This COLA is applied each year based on the increase in the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW). When applied reasonably compounded adjustments can result in significant (but appropriate) benefit increases over the lifetime of an injured worker. The Duncan case set out to interpret the legislative intent of the code and contemplated three possible interpretations:
Ultimately, the Court of Appeal interpreted the Labor Code according to scenario number one and decided that COLA should be applied beginning 1/1/04 regardless of the date of loss. This means that all claims will be subject to prior COLA’s retroactive to 1/1/04 regardless of the date of injury.
How the Controversial Decision Will Impact Your Claims:
On March 24, 2010 the California Supreme Court rejected the Appeals Board decision and voted to grant a review of the Duncan decision. No date has been set for oral arguments, and a final decision is not expected until 2011.
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