Section 10A: Assignments of cases; conferences; orders; appeals
Section 10A. (1) On referral from the division of administration of a claim for compensation or a complaint for modification or discontinuance of benefits, said claim or complaint shall be immediately assigned to an administrative judge. Except where events beyond the control of the department make such scheduling impracticable, the administrative judge assigned to any case referred to the division of dispute resolution shall retain exclusive jurisdiction over the matter and any subsequent claim or complaint related to the alleged injury shall be referred to the same administrative judge. The administrative judge shall require the parties to appear before him for a conference within twenty-eight days of receipt of the case by the division of dispute resolution. The administrative judge may require and receive reports of injury, signed statements of the employee and any witnesses, medical, hospital, and rehabilitation records, and other written and oral matter. At the conference, the parties shall identify the issues in dispute and they shall produce a summary of any anticipated testimony.
(2) Within seven days of the conclusion of the conference the administrative judge shall file:
(a) a written order requiring or denying that weekly compensation or other benefits be paid; or
(b) a written order modifying, terminating, or denying modification or termination of weekly compensation or other benefits.
Whenever the subject of the conference is a claim or complaint for which written offers have been filed pursuant to section ten, the order or arbitrator's award modifying, terminating, or denying modification or termination of weekly compensation benefits shall reflect the amount so filed by one or other of the parties, or by a conciliator on behalf of a party, and shall not require any payment, modification or termination which has not been proposed by either party unless the judge or arbitrator provides a detailed written explanation of why neither submitted amount could reasonably be believed to accurately compensate the employee for his earning capacity. Whenever, with respect to a case in which liability is not an issue, a claim for additional compensation or a complaint to discontinue or modify compensation is among the issues before the administrative judge or arbitrator, if written amounts have not been filed at conciliation as hereinbefore provided, or are unavailable on the date of the conference or arbitration for any other reason or if the judge or arbitrator determines that a party that has previously filed an amount with a conciliator in good faith has subsequently acquired new information regarding earning capacity not available at the time of conciliation, the administrative judge or arbitrator shall require or, in case of newly discovered information, allow such filings at the close of the conference or arbitration, and the order or award shall reflect one of the offers so filed and not substitute any other amount unless the judge or arbitrator provides a detailed written explanation of why neither submitted amount could reasonably be believed to accurately compensate the employee for his earning capacity.
Nothing in this section shall restrict the authority of an administrative judge to order weekly benefits or health care services for a closed period into the future or to order that such benefits or services be initiated, modified, or terminated at a particular date in the future.
(3) Any party aggrieved by an order of an administrative judge shall have fourteen days from the filing date of such order within which to file an appeal for a hearing pursuant to section eleven. Such hearing shall be held within twenty-eight days of the department's receipt of such appeal.
Failure to file a timely appeal or withdrawal of a timely appeal shall be deemed to be acceptance of the administrative judge's order and findings, except that a party who has by mistake, accident or other reasonable cause failed to appeal an order within the time limited herein may within one year of such filing petition the commissioner of the department who may permit such hearing if justice and equity require it, notwithstanding that a decree has previously been rendered on any order filed, pursuant to section twelve.