Workers' Compensation

Allows disputed claims for workers' compensation benefits to be
resolved by alternative dispute resolution and arbitration.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.53         
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  Section 386-86, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 2 amended to read as follows:
 3      "386-86  Proceedings upon claim.  (a)  If a claim for
 4 compensation is made, the director shall make such further
 5 investigation as may be deemed necessary and render a decision
 6 [within] not more than sixty days after the conclusion of the
 7 hearing awarding or denying compensation, stating the findings of
 8 fact and conclusions of law.  The director may extend the due
 9 date for decisions for good cause [provided] if all parties
10 agree[.] to the extension.  The decision shall be filed with the
11 record of the proceedings and a copy of the decision shall be
12 sent immediately to each party.
13      (b)  Where the parties voluntarily agree and submit a signed
14 stipulation with the director, the parties may choose to have a
15 decision rendered by alternative dispute resolution as provided
16 in subsection (c).  Any decision rendered by alternative dispute
17 resolution shall be deemed a decision of the director issued
18 pursuant to this section.  The decision shall be final and
19 conclusive between the parties unless either party appeals the

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 1 decision as provided in section 386-87(a).
 2      (c)  The director shall adopt rules authorizing and
 3 regulating the following means of alternative dispute resolution:
 4      (1)  Conventional arbitration in which a neutral third party
 5           hears and arbitrates any dispute regarding compensation
 6           between the parties;
 7      (2)  Final offer arbitration in which each party submits its
 8           last and final offer regarding any disputed issues and
 9           the arbitrator is empowered to select only one or the
10           other of the final offers; and
11      (3)  Mediation in which a neutral mediator attempts to
12           secure a voluntary settlement of all disputed issues
13           between the parties.
14      (d)  At the request of any party, there shall be mandatory
15 arbitration of the issues of compensability and termination of
16 temporary total disability benefits in accordance with the
17 following procedures:
18      (1)  The parties shall select an arbitrator by mutual
19           agreement not more than seventy-two hours after a
20           request for arbitration.  If the parties cannot agree
21           on an arbitrator, an arbitrator shall be appointed at
22           random from a list maintained by the director.  The
23           arbitrator shall convene the arbitration hearing not

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 1           more than thirty days after being appointed, and shall
 2           render a decision not more than seven days after the
 3           hearing and transmit it to the department.  There shall
 4           be no stay of the arbitrator's decision pending further
 5           review by the director;
 6      (2)  The arbitrator's decision shall be reviewed by the
 7           director at the request of any party not more than
 8           thirty days after the filing of a request for a review.
 9           The request for review shall be filed not more than ten
10           days after the date the arbitrator's decision is
11           issued.  The director, at the director's discretion,
12           shall either adopt the arbitrator's decision or set the
13           matter for hearing.  If neither party requests a review
14           of the arbitrator's decision or if the director does
15           not set the matter for hearing not more than ninety
16           days after a request for a review, the arbitrator's
17           decision shall automatically be deemed to be the
18           decision of the director;
19      (3)  No fees shall be charged for the arbitrator's services
20           under this subsection;
21      (4)  By mutual agreement of all parties, the time deadlines
22           stated in this subsection may be extended; and
23      (5)  The director shall adopt rules implementing the

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 1           mandatory arbitration procedure.
 2      (e)  The director, where jointly requested by the parties,
 3 may convene settlement conferences to promote the resolution of
 4 all or part of any disputed claim.  Participation in any such
 5 settlement conference shall be purely voluntary and no penalty or
 6 adverse inference shall attach to any party that declines to
 7 participate.
 8      (f)  The cost of arbitration or mediation shall be borne
 9 equally between the parties.  The fees and costs of the
10 arbitration or mediation shall be paid in the same manner as
11 compensation due and payable as a decision or judgment under
12 section 386-92.  The fees and costs of the arbitrator or mediator
13 shall be approved in the manner prescribed in section 386-94 and,
14 once so approved, shall constitute a lien upon compensation in
15 the manner and to the extent fixed by the director, the appellate
16 board, or a court.  The arbitrator or mediator may not assess the
17 arbitrator's own fees and costs against a party, notwithstanding
18 section 386-93(a) to the contrary."
19      SECTION 2.  This Act does not affect rights and duties that
20 matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were
21 begun, before its effective date.
22      SECTION 3.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed.
23 New statutory material is underscored.

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 1      SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
 3                           INTRODUCED BY:_________________________