The purpose of the Hawaii Workers’ Compensation Act, HRS Chapter 386, is to provide compensation and medical care to employees who suffer an injury or disease “arising out of and in the course of employment.”

All Hawaii employers with employees must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. Employers can provide coverage by either obtaining workers’ compensation insurance through an insurance carrier or obtaining approval for self-insured status.

Claims for compensation must be filed in writing within two years after the effects of the injury become manifest and within five years from the date of the accident.  An injury is compensable under the workers’ compensation law if:  (1) The injury arose out of employment, and (2) The injury was sustained in the course of employment.

Within seven working days after an employer has knowledge of an injury which causes an absence for more than one day or requires medical attention beyond first aid, the employer must report the injury on a WC-1 Report of Industrial Injury Form.

Unless rebutted by substantial contrary evidence, it is presumed under Hawaii law that:  (1) The employee’s claim is for a covered work injury; (2) Sufficient notice of the injury was given to the employer; (3) The injury was not caused by the intoxication of the injured employee; and (4) The injury was not caused by the willful intention of the injured employee to injure her or himself.

In order to overcome or rebut the presumptions, the employer is required to offer up substantial evidence that the claim is not for a work-related injury.

Four types of benefits are available to employees who suffer occupational injuries or diseases:  (a) indemnity benefits; (b) medical benefits, (c) vocational rehabilitation benefits; and (d) death benefits.  If there is a dispute whether compensation is due or the amount that is due, either party may request a hearing.  Hearings are scheduled before a hearing officer.

Within 60 days after a hearing, the hearings officer will issue a determination including findings of fact, decision and order.  Within 20 days after the mailing of the award, a party may appeal the decision to the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board for a de novo review of the award.  Either party may appeal a final decision by the Appeals Board to the Intermediate Court of Appeals within 30 days.

Generally, recovery under Hawaii’s workers’ compensation law is an employee’s exclusive remedy for work-related injuries or diseases.  However, an employee generally cannot sue his or her employer or a co-worker for damages resulting from occupational injuries caused by the employer’s or co-worker’s negligence.  This does not necessarily preclude injuries resulting from intentional acts, for example.

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