Chapter 05 - Workmen's Compensation-General Provisions and Administration

Chapter 05 - Workmen's Compensation-General Provisions and Administration

32.0501 Short title.


This chapter and Chapter 32.06 may be cited as the “Workmen’s Compensation Act”.

32.0502 Definitions.


As used in this chapter and Chapter 32.06, the following definitions apply:

(a) “American Samoa”, when used in a geographical sense, means the Territory of American Samoa, including the Territorial waters thereof.

(b) “Carrier” means any person or fund authorized under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 to insure under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 and includes self-insurers.

(c) “Child” means a person under 18 years of age, a person 18 years of age or over and physically or mentally incapable of self-support, or any person 18 years of age or over who is actually dependent, or any person between 18 and 25 years of age who is enrolled as a full-time student in any accredited educational institution. The term “child” includes a posthumous child, a child legally adopted or regarding whom adoption proceedings are pending at the time or death, an actually dependent child in relation to whom the deceased employee stood in the place of a parent for at least one year prior to the time of death, an actually dependent stepchild and an actually dependent acknowledged illegitimate child.

(d) “Commission” means the Workmen’s Compensation Commission.

(e) “Commissioner” means the head of the Workmen’s Compensation Commission.

(f) “Employees” means any individual in the service of an employer as defined in subsection (g). Every individual working with or without pay whose services are requested or volunteered, and who serves under the direction of a public official, shall be deemed to be an employee of the government for the purposes of this chapter and Chapter 32.06, and if injured in the course or such work, shall be entitled to the benefits of this chapter and Chapter 32.06.

(g) “Employer”, except when otherwise expressly stated, includes any person, the government, the legal representatives of a deceased employer, and the receiver or trustee of a person, partnership, association, or corporation.

(h) “Grandchild” means a child, as previously defined, of a child, except that as to the latter child, the limitations as to age in the above definitions do not apply.

(i) “Injury” means any harmful change in the human organism arising out of and in the course of employment, including damage to or loss ot a prosthetic appliance, but does not include any communicable disease unless the risk of contracting the disease is increased by the nature of the employment.

(j) “Person” means any individual, partnership, corporation or association.

32.0505 Commission-Members.


(a) The Workmen’s Compensation Commission, composed of 5 members, is created.

(b) It consists of a Commissioner, a medical officer, a law member, a fiscal member and an employee member, all to be appointed by the Governor.

(c) The Commission shall maintain and keep open, during reasonable business hours, an office for the transaction of business.

(d) If any member of the Commission is removed from office or for any reason ceases to act as a member, all of his official records and papers shall be transferred to his successor in office or to the Commission.

(e) No member or business associate of a member may appear as attorney in any proceedings under this chapter and Chapter 32.06. No member may act in any such case in which he is interested, or when he is employed by any party in interest or related to any party in interest by consanguinity or affinity within the third decree as determined by the common law.

(f) No member of the Commission shall receive compensation for services rendered under this chapter and Chapter 32.06, except for reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses incurred in the performance of duty.

32.0506 Commission-Powers.


Except as otherwise specifically provided, the Workmen’s Compensation Commission shall administer the provisions of this chapter, Chapter 32.06 and for such purposes as the Commission is authorized to:

(1) make rules and regulations in conformity with this chapter and Chapter 32.06;

(2) select such technical assistance, medical advisors and other officers and employees as may be necessary for the proper administration of this chapter and Chapter 32.06;

(3) make, from appropriated funds, such expenditures, including expenditures for personal services, rent, law books, books of reference, periodicals, printing, binding and other necessities, as may be necessary in the administration of this chapter and Chapter 32.06.

32.0507 Commission-Vocational rehabilitation of disabled employees.


(a) The Commission shall direct the vocational rehabilitation of permanently disabled employees and shall arrange with the appropriate public or private agencies for such education.

(b) The Commission may, in its discretion, furnish such prosthetic appliance or other apparatus made necessary by an injury upon which an award has been made under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 to render a disabled employee fit to engage in a remunerative occupation.

32.0508 Commission-Studies and investigations-Cooperation with other agencies.


(a) The Commission shall make studies and investigations with respect to safety provisions and the causes of injuries in employment covered by this chapter and Chapter 32.06 and shall from time to time make to the legislature and to employers and carriers such recommendations as it may deem proper as to the best means of preventing such injuries.

(b) In making such studies and investigations, the Commission is authorized to cooperate with any agency charged with the duty of enforcing any law, securing safety against injury in any employment covered by this chapter and Chapter 32.06, engaged in enforcing any law to assure safety for employees, and to permit any such agency to have access to the records of the Commission.

(c) In carrying out the provisions of this section, the Commission or any officer or employee of the Commission is authorized to enter at any reasonable time upon any premises, tracks, wharf or dock, or to enter any building, where an employment covered by this chapter is being carried on, and to examine any tools, appliances or machinery used in such employment.

32.0509 Commission-Annual report.


The Commission shall make to the American Samoa Legislature, at the beginning of each regular session, a report of the administration of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 for the preceding fiscal year, including a detailed statement of receipts of and expenditures from the funds established or authorized in 32.0515 and 32.0516, together with such recommendations as the Commission deems desirable.

32.0510 Powers of Commissioner.


The Commissioner has power to preserve and enforce order during any proceedings, issue subpoenas, administer oaths, compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, papers, documents and other evidence, compel the taking of depositions before any designated individual competent to administer oaths, examine witnesses, and to do all things conformable to law which may be necessary to enable him effectively to discharge the duties to his office.

32.0511 Special fund for payment of expenses in administering chapter.


(a) There is established in the treasury at American Samoa a special fund for the purpose of providing for the payment of all expenses respect of the administration of this chapter and Chapter 32.06.

(b) The fund shall be administered by the Commissioner.

(c) The Treasurer of American Samoa shall be the custodian of the fund, and all moneys and securities in the fund shall be held in trust by the Treasurer and are not the money or property of American Samoa.

(d) The Treasurer is authorized to disburse moneys from such fund only upon order of the commission.

(e) The Treasurer of American Samoa shall deposit any moneys paid into such fund into such depository banks as the commission may designate and may invest any portion of the funds which, in the opinion of the Commission, is not needed for current requirements, in bonus or notes of the United States or of any federal land bank.

(f) The account for such fund shall be subject to audit in accordance with established government auditing procedure, but the action at the Commission in making payments from such fund shall be final and not subject to review.

32.0515 Fund for payment of compensation to employees of territorial government.


(a) There is authorized to be established, out of any money in the Treasury of American Samoa not otherwise appropriated, a fund sufficient to secure compensation payments under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 in respect of employees of the government.

(b) The Treasurer of American Samoa shall be the custodian of the fund and is authorized to disburse moneys from it only upon order of the Commission.

(c) The Treasurer shall deposit any moneys appropriated or paid into the fund into such depository banks as the Commission may designate, and may invest any portion of the funds which in the opinion of the Commission is not needed for current requirements in bonds or notes of the United States or of any federal land bank.

(d) The account for such fund shall be subject to audit in accordance with established government auditing procedure, but the action of the Commission in making payments from such fund shall be final and are not subject to review

(e) With respect to government employees, the Commission may authorize direct compensation payments from such fund or, if it deems it desirable, insure and keep insured the payment of such compensation with any stock company or mutual company or association.

32.0516 Special fund for payment of compensation for injury increasing preexisting disability and for maintenance of those undergoing vocational rehabilitation.


(a) There is established a special fund for the purpose or making payments in accordance with the provisions of 32.0613 and 32.0615.

(b) The fund shall be administered by the Commission.

(c) The Treasurer of American Samoa shall be the custodian of the fund, and all moneys and securities in the fund shall be held in trust by the Treasurer and are not the money or property of the government,

(d) The Treasurer is authorized to disburse moneys from the fund only upon order of the Commission,

(e) Payments into the fund shall be made as follows:

(l) Each employer shall pay $1,000 as compensation for the death of an employee or such employer resulting from injury where the Commissioner determines that there is no person entitled, under this chapter or Chapter 32.06, to compensate for such death.

(2) All amounts collected as fines and penalties under the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 shall be paid into the fund.

(f) The Treasurer shall deposit any moneys paid into the fund into such depository banks as the Commission may designate and may invest any portion of the funds which, in the opinion of the Commission, is not needed for current requirements, in bonds or notes of the United States or of any federal land bank.

(g) Neither the government nor the Commission is liable for payments authorizes under 32.0613 and 32.0615 in an amount greater than the money or property deposited in or belonging to the fund,

(h) The account for the fund shall be subject to audit in accordance with established government auditing procedure, but the action of the Commission in making payments from such fund shall be final and not subject to review.

32.0517 Authorization of appropriations.


There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06.

32.0520 Liability of employer for compensation.


Every employer subject to this chapter and Chapter 32.06 shall be liable for compensation for injury to or death of his employees arising out of and in the course of employment without regard to fault as to cause of the injury or death.

32.0521 Liability for compensation-Exemptions.


(a) Liability for compensation does not apply where injury to the employee is occasioned solely by his intoxication or by his willful intention to injure or kill himself or another.

(b) Any person employing individuals for whom a rule of liability for injuries or death arising out of and in the course of employment is provided by the laws of the United States is not included under the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06.

(c) A “minor employer” means an employer who has 2 or fewer employees regularly employed. Minor employers are not subject to this chapter and Chapter 3106 except as follows:

(1) If any employee of a minor employer files with the Commission a written complaint that such employer is engaged in an occupation hazardous to employees, the Commission shall issue an order to show cause, returnable within 10 days thereafter, requiring such employer to appear and show cause why he should not be required to accept the provisions of this chanter or such order may be issued by the Commission upon its own motion.

(2) Upon hearing, the Commission shall determine whether or not such employer is engaged in an occupation hazardous to employees and such employer shall be conclusively presumed to have accepted the provisions of this title if the determination is in the affirmative.

(3) The Commission’s determination shall be conclusive and binding unless an appeal is taken within 30 days to the High Court of American Samoa. Such appeal may be taken by filing notice of appeal with the Commission, whereupon the Commission shall, under its certificate, forward to the court all documents and papers on file in the matter, together with a transcript of all the evidence, findings and decision. Upon appeal, no additional evidence shall be heard and in the absence of fraud, the findings of fact made by the Commission within its powers shall be conclusive and binding.

32.0522 Liability for compensation-Exclusiveness.


(a) The liability of an employer described in 32.0520 and 32.0521 shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability of such employer to the employee, his legal representative, husband or wife, parents. Dependents, next of kin, and anyone otherwise entitled to recover damages from such employer at law or in admiralty on account of such injury or death, except that if an employer fails to secure payment of compensation as required by this chapter or Chapter 32.06, an injured employee or his legal representative in case death results from the injury, may elect to claim compensation under this chapter or Chapter 32.06, and in addition, may maintain an action at law or in admiralty for damages on account of such injury or death. The amount of compensation shall be credited against the amount received in such action. If the amount of compensation is larger than the amount of damages received, the amount of damages less the employee’s legal fees and expenses shall be credited against the amount of compensation.

(b) In such action, the defendant may not plead as a defense that the injury was caused by the negligence of a fellow servant, nor that the employee assumed the risk of his employment, nor that the injury was due to the contributory negligence of the employee.

32.0523 Right to compensation.


Benefits prescribed in this chapter and Chapter 32.06 shall be paid for injury arising out of and in the course of employment, which shall include travel between residence and place of employment.

32.0524 Employers subject to chapter.


The following shall constitute employers subject to the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06:

(1) every person who has in the Territory one or more employees are subject to this chapter;

(2) the territory, any agency or instrumentality thereof, including a public or quasi-public corporation, and any other political subdivision of the Territory which has one or more employees is subject to this chapter and Chapter 32.06;

(3) an employer who has in his employment any employees exempted under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 and who elects to be subject to this chapter and Chapter 32.06; such election shall be made by the employer by securing the payment of compensation to such exempted employees in accordance with 32.0530.

32.0525 Right of inmates of certain institutions to compensation.


(a) For purposes of this section, “inmate” includes any individual confined in a public institution, whether or not the institution is a penal institution. The term does not apply to students in schools for the deaf and blind or other similar institutions; it does apply to inmates of territorial mental institutions, homes for the feebleminded, reformatories and prisons, and to county and local jails and the like.

(b) If an inmate, in the performance of his work in connection with the maintenance of the institution, or with any industry maintained therein, or with any highway or public works activity outside the institution, is injured so as to disable him permanently or materially reduce his earning capacity, he may, upon being released from such institution, either upon parole or upon final discharge, be awarded and paid compensation under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 for disability continuing upon release. If death results from such injury, death benefits shall be awarded and paid to the dependents of the inmate.

(c) The time limit for filing a claim under this section shall date from the death or the time of parole or final discharge or the time specified in 32.0627, whichever is later.

(d) If any individual who has been awarded compensation under the provisions of this section shall be recommitted to an institution covered by this section, such compensation shall immediately cease, but may be resumed upon subsequent parole or discharge.

(e) Payments shall be made from the appropriation for the operation of the particular industry or activity, but if there is no such appropriation, payment shall be made from the general fund of the Territory.

32.0526 Extraterritorial coverage of chapter.


(a) The provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 shall apply in respect to the injury or death of an employee of an employer who carries on any employment in this Territory, irrespective of the place where the injury or death occurs. An employer entering into a contract ot hire with an employee, express or implied, in this Territory, or elsewhere for employment in this Territory shall, as to such employee, be deemed to carry on employment in this Territory for the purposes of this section. In applying this provision, due regard shall be given to the legitimate interests of the Territory in the protection and welfare of injured employees and their dependents and to the public policy of this Territory to provide an expeditious and convenient remedy under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 for residents of this Territory, whether employees or their dependents or individuals entitled to payment for services rendered in connection with cases cognizable under this chapter and Chapter 32,06, and for others likely to become public charges in this Territory as the result of injury or death occurring during employment.

(b) An individual who has filed a claim or taken other affirmative action seeking a remedy for injury or death under the workmen’s compensation law of a jurisdiction other than this Territory, and who has been awarded compensation or has had an agreement with respect to compensation approved by proper authority, which award or agreement has not been reversed, shall, for purposes of this chapter and Chapter 32.06, be conclusively presumed to come exclusively within the coverage of the workmen’s compensation law for such other jurisdiction, and not to be entitled to benefits under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 for the same injury or death. In case of death leaving more than one individual entitled to benefits for death, the provisions of this subsection shall apply only in respect to the individual or individuals seeking such other benefits and the payment of such other benefits shall not in any respect affect or diminish the rights of other beneficiaries in the same case under this chapter and Chapter 32.06.

32.0530 Securing payments of compensation.


(a) Every employer shall secure the payment of compensation under this chapter and Chapter 32.06:

(1) by insuring and keeping insured the payment of such compensation with any stock company or mutual company or association or with any person or fund authorized by the Commission to transact the business of workmen’s compensation insurance in the territory; or

(2) by furnishing satisfactory proof to the Commissioner of his financial ability to pay such compensation and receiving an authorization from the commissioner to pay such compensation directly. The Commissioner may, as a condition to such authorization, require such employer to deposit, in a depository designated by the Commissioner, either an indemnity bond or securities at the option of the employer, of a kind and in an amount determined by the Commissioner, and subject to such conditions as the Commissioner may prescribe, which shall include authorization to the Commissioner in case of default to sell any such securities sufficient to pay compensation awards or to bring suit upon such bonds, to procure prompt payment or compensation under this chapter and Chapter 32.06. Any employer securing compensation in accordance with the provisions of this paragraph shall be known as a self-insurer.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) the government may make compensation payments under the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 from the special fund referred to in 32.0515.

32.0531 Authorization to insure payments-Suspension and revocation.


(a) In granting authorization to any carrier to insure payment of compensation under this chapter and Chapter 32.06, the Commission may take into consideration the recommendation or any authority having supervision over carriers or over workmen’s compensation, and may authorize any carrier to insure the payment of compensation under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 in the territory.

(b) The Commission may suspend or revoke any such authorization for good cause shown after a hearing at which the carrier shall be entitled to be heard in person or by counsel and to present evidence. No suspension or revocation shall affect the liability of any carrier already incurred.

32.0532 Claims facilities.


The carrier shall provide claims facilities through its own staffed adjusting facilities located within the Territory or by independent, licensed, resident adjusters, with power to effect settlement within the Territory.

32.0533 Insurance policies-Requirements-Cancellation.


(a) Every policy or contract of insurance issued under authority of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 shall contain:

(1) A provision to carry out the provisions of 32.0535;

(2) A provision that insolvency or bankruptcy of the employer, or discharge therein, or both, does not relieve the carrier from payment of compensation for disability or death sustained by an employee during the life of such policy or contract.

(b) No contract or policy of insurance issued by a carrier under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 may be canceled prior to the date specified in such contract or policy for its expiration until at least 30 days have elapsed after a notice of cancellation has been sent to the Commissioner and to the employer in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c) of 32.0521.

32.0534 Posting of notice of securing payment of compensation.


(a) Every employer who has secured compensation under the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 shall keep posted in a conspicuous place or places in and about his place or places of business typewritten or printed notices, in accordance with a form prescribed by the Commission, stating that such employer has secured the payment of compensation in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06.

(b) Such notices shall contain the name and address of the carrier, if any, with whom the employer has secured the payment of compensation and the date of the expiration of the policy.

32.0535 Substitution of carrier for employer as liable party.


(a) In order that the liability for compensation imposed by this chapter and Chapter 32.06 may be most effectively discharged by the employer, and that the administration of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 regarding such ability may be facilitated, the Commission shall by regulation provide for the discharge, by the carrier for an employer who is not a self-insurer, of the obligations and duties of the employer regarding the liability imposed by this chapter and Chapter 32.06 upon the employer as the Commission considers proper.

(b) For such purposes:

(1) Notice to or knowledge of an employer of the occurrence of the injury shall be notice to or knowledge of the carrier.

(2) Jurisdiction under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 over the employer by the commissioner, the Commission or any court shall be jurisdiction over the carrier.

(3) Any requirement by the Commissioner, the Commission or any court under any compensation order, finding or decision shall be binding upon the carrier in the same manner and to the same extent as upon the employer.

32.0536 Certificate of compliance.


All employers covered by this chapter and Chapter 32.06 shall file with the Workmen’s Compensation Commission a certificate stating that they have complied with those provisions of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 requiring the securing of compensation to their employees.

32.0550 Disobeying order or obstructing hearing-Penalty.


If any individual in proceedings before the Commissioner disobeys or resists any lawful order or process, or misbehaves during a hearing or so near the place thereof as to obstruct the same, or neglects to produce, after having been ordered to do so, any pertinent book, paper or document, or refuses to take the oath as a witness, or after having taken the oath refuses to be examined according to the law, the Commissioner shall certify the facts to the High Court of American Samoa, which shall thereupon, in a summary manner, hear the evidence and punish such person in the same manner and to the same extent as for a contempt committed before the court, or commit such person upon the same conditions as if the doing of the forbidden act had occurred with reference to the process of or in the presence of the court.

32.0551 Failure to file report of death, injury or disease-Penalty.


Any employer who fails or refuses to send any report required of him by 32.0602 is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each such failure or refusal.

32.0552 Failure to give notice of final payment-Penalty.


If an employer fails to give notice under subsection (b) of 32.0661, the Commission shall assess against him a civil penalty of $100.

32.0553 Collection of civil penalties.


All civil penalties provided for in this chapter shall be collected by civil suit brought by the Commissioner.

32.0554 Invalid agreements-Penalty.


(a) No agreement by an employee to pay any portion of a premium paid by his employer to a carrier, or to contribute to a benefit fund or department maintained by such employer for the purpose of providing compensation or medical services and supplies as required by this chapter and Chapter 32.06, is valid, Any employer who makes a deduction for such purpose from the pay of any employee entitled to the benefits of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 is guilty of a class C misdemeanor.

(b) No agreement by an employee to waive his right to compensation under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 is valid.

32.0555 Receipt of illegal fees-Penalty.


Any person who receives any fee, other consideration, or any gratuity on account of services rendered contrary to 32.0671, unless such consideration or gratuity is approved by the commissioner or court, or who makes it a business to solicit employment for a lawyer or for himself in respect to any claim or award for compensation, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor and shall, for each offense, be sentenced accordingly

32.0556 False or misleading statements-Penalty.


Any person who knowingly makes any false or misleading statement or representation for the purpose of obtaining any benefit or payment under this chapter or Chapter 32.06 or for the purpose of evading liability for any benefit or payment under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

32.0557 Failure to secure payment of compensation-Penalty.


(a) Any employer required to secure the payment of compensation under this chapter or Chapter 32.06 who fails to secure such compensation is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

(b) Where such employer is a corporation, the president, secretary, and treasurer thereof shall also be liable, severally, for such fine or imprisonment, and such president, secretary, and treasurer shall be severally personally liable, jointly with such corporation, for any compensation or other benefit which may accrue under this chapter or Chapter 32.06 in respect to any injury which may occur to any employee of such corporation while it so fails to secure the payment of compensation.

(c) This section shall not affect any other liability of an employer under this chapter or Chapter 32.06.

32.0558 Transfer or destruction of property to avoid payment of compensation.


(a) Any employer who knowingly transfers, sells, encumbers, assigns or in any manner disposes of, conceals, secretes, or destroys any property belonging to such employer, after one of his employees has been injured within the purview of this chapter and Chapter 32.06, with intent to avoid the payment of compensation under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 to such employee or his dependents, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

(b) Where such employer is a corporation, the president, secretary, and treasurer thereof shall be severally liable for such penalty or imprisonment as well as jointly liable with such corporation for such fine.

(c) This section shall not affect any other liability of the employer under this chapter and Chapter 32.06.

32.0559 Violation of certificate of compliance requirements-Penalty.


Any person who violates 32.0536 is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

32.0560 Effect of unconstitutionality.


If any provision of this chapter and Chapter 32.06 is adjudged unconstitutional by the courts, and such adjudication has the effect of invalidating any payment of compensation under this chapter and Chapter 32.06, the period intervening between the time the injury was sustained and the time of such adjudication shall not be computed as a part of the time prescribed by this chapter and Chapter 32.06 for the commencement of any action against the employer in respect to such injury; but the amount of any compensation paid under this chapter and Chapter 32.06 on account of such injury shall be deducted from the amount of damages awarded in such action in respect to such injury.

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