142. General powers and duties of the workmen's compensation board. 1. The workmen's compensation board shall have power to hear and determine all claims for compensation or benefits or relating to special funds created under the provisions of this chapter, in the manner provided by this chapter; to require medical service for injured employees as provided by this chapter; to approve and fix attorney's fees and claims for medical service to the extent provided in this chapter; to excuse failure to give notice either of injury or death of an employee, to approve agreements, to modify or rescind awards, to make conclusions of fact and rulings of law, to certify questions to the appellate division of the supreme court, to enter orders in appealed cases, to determine the time for the payment of compensation, to order the reimbursement of employers for amounts advanced, to assess penalties, to commute awards, to compromise actions for the collection of awards, to require or permit employers to deposit the present value of awards in the aggregate trust fund of the state fund, to determine by rule the assignment of a minor's right to sue a third party, to require guardianship for minor dependents, to hear and determine claims under the occupational disease act, to order physical examinations, to take testimony by depositions; and to have and exercise all other powers and duties, exclusive of purely administrative functions, originally conferred or imposed upon the workmen's compensation commission by this chapter, or by any other statute, and by chapter six hundred and seventy-four of the laws of nineteen hundred fifteen conferred and imposed upon the industrial commission, and by chapter fifty of the laws of nineteen hundred twenty-one conferred and imposed upon the industrial board. For the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such duties, the workmen's compensation board shall be deemed to be a continuation of the industrial board provided for by the provisions of the labor law; and all proceedings under this chapter pending before such board are hereby transferred to the workmen's compensation board without prejudice to the rights of any party to such proceeding.
The workmen's compensation board, subject to the provisions of this chapter and of the provisions of the labor law as to the distribution of functions, shall succeed to all the rights, powers, duties and obligations of the department of labor, the industrial commissioner and the industrial board, in so far as they relate to workmen's compensation, as heretofore constituted, except such as are vested in the chairman of the board by this article and except with respect to article six of this chapter.
Whenever the term "industrial board" or the "chairman" or "vice-chairman" thereof appears in this chapter or in the provisions of the labor law after the time this article takes effect, it shall be construed to mean the workmen's compensation board or the chairman thereof, as created by the provisions of this chapter, as may be required by the context unless the contrary shall be indicated.
2. Any review, hearing, rehearing, inquiry or investigation required or authorized to be conducted or made by the workers' compensation board may be conducted or made by any panel of the board consisting of not less than three members thereof, and the order, decision or determination of a majority of the members of a panel shall be deemed the order, decision or determination of the board from the date of filing thereof with the secretary of the board, unless the board on its own motion, or on application by a party in interest for a full board review made in accordance with section twenty-three of this chapter, shall modify or rescind such order, decision or determination. Four panels shall be constituted at all times, and the chair shall assign the members to the panels upon which they shall serve. At least one member on each panel shall be an attorney and counsellor-at-law, but the absence of an attorney on any panel shall not invalidate the order, decision or determination of a majority of the members of the panel if at least two affirmative votes are cast in favor of such action. The panels shall be constituted so that the members of the board shall alternate in their periods of service together thereon. Whenever a number of proceedings remains pending before the board for a period in excess of thirty days, members of the board shall hold hearings and otherwise act in the discharge of their duties evenings and at other convenient times on all days of the week except Sundays, in addition to the times when they would perform such duties in the ordinary conduct of the business of the board, in order to expedite the disposal thereof. The chair may and shall, when directed by the governor, prescribe the hours and the times for such additional performance of duty by the members of the board and the period or periods for the continuance thereof.
Notwithstanding any provision in this section to the contrary, a member of the board may be designated by the chair to act individually in the hearing and determination of any claim under this chapter, or conduct any investigation, hearing or inquiry hereunder, or review and rescind any order, decision or determination upon any claim and restore such claim for further trial hearing and evidence or consideration except that such member may not conduct any appellate rehearing of any case or otherwise review any order, decision or determination upon any claim and reverse, modify or affirm such order, decision or determination which by the provisions of this section shall be reheard or reviewed by the board or a panel thereof.
3. The members of the workmen's compensation board, a referee or any other officer or employee of the board if duly authorized by the chairman, may administer oaths and take affidavits in matters relating to the provisions of this chapter.
The members of the workmen's compensation board, the referees and any other officer of the board designated by the chairman, shall have power:
a. To issue subpoenas for and compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, contracts, papers, documents and other evidence;
b. To hear testimony and take or cause to be taken depositions of witnesses residing within or without this state in the manner prescribed by law for like depositions in civil actions in the supreme court. Subpoenas and commissions to take testimony shall be issued under the seal of the board.
4. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, neither the industrial commissioner nor any board or other agency of the department of labor shall in any way direct, review, modify or reverse any decision or finding of the board nor shall the industrial commissioner or any board or other agency of the department of labor supervise or control the board or its members in the exercise of any powers or in the performance of any duties under this chapter.
5. The workers' compensation board shall keep an accurate record of all hearings held. Where the decision of a referee is affirmed by the board upon review, the board shall assess against each insurance carrier or employer seeking such review the sum of one hundred fifty dollars and may assess against any other party the sum of twenty dollars. The amount so secured from these assessments shall be paid into the state treasury.
6. The workers' compensation board shall not release any information acquired pursuant to section five hundred thirty-seven of the labor law and section one hundred seventy-one-a of the tax law unless the release of such information is required to further fraud control activities undertaken by the workers' compensation board pursuant to this chapter, in which case release of such information shall be subject to the restrictions contained in section five hundred thirty-seven of the labor law and section one hundred seventy-one-a of the tax law.
7. Where there has been a motor vehicle accident which caused personal injury and there is a dispute as to whether the injury occurred in the course of employment, the workers' compensation board shall, after notice to the no-fault carrier and the workers' compensation carrier, hold an expedited hearing on the issue of whether the accident occurred during the course of employment.
Last modified: February 3, 2019