« AnteriorContinuar »
pital service for miners has been recognized by statutes providing for the maintenance of hospitals or homes for injured or disabled miners by taxation or mutual contributions of employers and employees.
Nearly all the laws and bills contemplate periodical payments, subject to commutation by the payment of a lump sum or sums after a specified period of time or in the discretion of an administrative authority. Provision is also made for the revision of payments where there is a change in the degree of disability after the preliminary determination and award.
In practically every instance the claim of an injured workman is made nonassignable and exempt from attachment or levy. An exception in the law of Kansas permits attachments to secure payment for medicines, physician's attendance, and nursing. An almost equally common provision is one that requires a claimant to submit to medical examination at reasonable intervals—sometimes fixed-usually at the option and cost of the employer, to determine the fact as to the extent of the injury and of recovery therefrom. It is provided in some laws and bills that the injured person may have his own physician present, while in others he may submit his physician's statements. In a few instances provision is made for a medical referee.
TIME FOR NOTICE AND CLAIM.-Prospective claimants of compensation or benefits are usually required to notify the employer of their intention within a specified number of days after the accident. This requirement. may be waived where the employer had actual knowledge without such notice or where any compensation or assistance on account of the injury is given before the expiration of the period named in the law. If the notice was not given within the time named it is frequently provided that the failure shall not bar the claim where the injured person or his beneficiary can adequately explain the delay and the employer was not prejudiced in his rights by the delay. It may further be provided that if he appears to have been to some extent prejudiced thereby, the amount of compensation shall only be reduced to that extent, and that the right shall not entirely fail. A longer period is of course permitted for the perfecting of the claim.
SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES.—While the object of these laws and bills is to attain as nearly as practicable to an automatic adjustment of claims and the determination of rights without litigation, it is of course necessary to provide for the intervention of third parties where the employer and the employee or beneficiary fail to agree, and also to supervise the agreements and settlements made by the parties. This is variously provided for, sometimes by local arbitrators or boards, either temporary or permanent, and sometimes by a State board created for the purpose, while in other cases the matter is intrusted to existing officials. Courts may usually be called upon, either by way of appeal in the settlement of disputes or to enforce the awards made.
NONRESIDENT ALIEN BENEFICIARIES.—There is wide disagreement on the question of compensating dependents of aliens dying from injury, where such dependents reside outside the boundaries of the United States. The law of Wisconsin specifically includes them, while the New Jersey law and the Chicago conference recommendations exclude them entirely; in New Hampshire only residents of the State may be beneficiaries; other laws consider only designated classes of beneficiaries or reduce the amount of benefits payable, while in other cases no mention is made. In these last cases it is fair to assume that the views of the courts on the law giving survivors a right of action in case of death (Lord Campbell's Act) would govern. On this view, Illinois (Kellyville Coal Co. v. Petraytis, 195 Ill. 215; 63 N. E. 94), Minnesota (Renlund v. Mining Co., 89 Minn. 41; 93 N. W. 1057), New York (Alfson v. Bush Co., 182 N. Y. 393; 75 N. E. 230), and Ohio (Pittsburg, etc., R. Co. v. Naylor, 73 Ohio St. 115; 76 N. E. 505) would place nonresident alien claimants on the same footing as residents or citizens. No citation is at hand showing the attitude of the Maryland courts, though Pennsylvania (Maiorano v. R. Co., 216 Pa. 402; 65 Atl. 1077) and Wisconsin (McMillan v. Spider Lake Sawmill & Lumber Co., 115 Wis. 332; 91 N. W. 979) are the only States, so far as a careful examination of the subject discloses, which exclude aliens; while a number of States besides those named grant equal rights to residents and nonresidents. The difficulty of determining the rights and conditions of claimants residing abroad, and the differences in the standards of living and in the purchasing power of money are offered as reasons for putting such claimants on a different footing from those who are residents of the United States, at least to the extent of reducing the amount of the payments. It may here be noticed that at the Sixth General Meeting of the International Association for Labor Legislation, held at Lugano, Switzerland, in September, 1910, resolutions were adopted requesting the American section of this body to urge on the legislatures of the various States an equal provision for aliens with that accorded citizens.
QUESTIONS OF CONSTITUTIONALITY. The question of the desirability of laws to supersede the employers' liability laws is treated differently in the various reports, the conclusion, however, being the same in all cases. The statistical studies presented are in part to afford a basis for estimates of costs, though it is admitted that no adequate basis for an exact determination now exists; while other statistics are given to demonstrate the present wasteful, impractical, and obviously unjust methods of dealing with work accidents.” (Wisconsin report.) Gov. Fort, of New
to 3, $5 per
al expenses; 50
rnings: $1,000 m, $5,000 maxo dependents,
arnings; $3,000 im; no depend0.
at of earnings
weeks; not 10 weekly; no nts, $200.
receives a lump s continues, "the
Jersey, in transmitting the commission's report to the State legislature urges such a measure as the commission recommends as one that “will work right and justice in the place of the present inequalities and unjust results,” and thus secure “a great advance in the economic problem of solving the questions between labor and capital.” Assuming these points, and acknowledging the economic need of a different mode of providing for the results of industrial accidents, the question of constitutionality remains. As already indicated, the systems of insurance and compensation each have their supporters on the ground of constitutionality. In this connection attention may be called to the attitude of a number of students of the question at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, where, in a discussion of the decision of the court of appeals of New York holding the compulsory compensation law of that State unconstitutional, there was a very considerable expression in favor of compulsory State insurance. The opinion of the court in the case referred to is reproduced at pages 253 to 275. It can not be regarded as determinative universally of the principles set forth as controlling in that State, since, as stated by the court itself, they might receive a different construction elsewhere, but, in the view held of the provisions of the State constitution, that could not affect conditions in New York. The question of elective systems of either compensation or insurance would remain open, even if compulsory systems are regarded as in conflict with controlling constitutional principles. Recommendations have been made of bills formally elective but in practical effect compulsory, rendered so by the withdrawal of the employers' customary defenses, which is constitutional. While this action is in a sense coercive, it is pointed out that the employer will prefer to accept a limited liability in a wider range of cases if he is at the same time relieved of the danger of harassing lawsuits for excessive damages, that he will be readily able to insure his liability, and that he can in large measure add the expense to cost of manufacture and distribute the burden among consumers. As to this last point, objection is made on behalf of street railway companies or others who like them are restricted by their charters or otherwise to a fixed rate of charges. It is assumed that the employee will accept the substitute for damage suits because of its certainty of results as against the uncertainty of the action for damages, because of the promptness with which relief will be afforded, and because the full amount will reach him instead of being in large part consumed in attorneys' fees and court expenses. It is also suggested that a system which would necessarily be elective as to the employer might be constitutionally compulsory to the employee, since by it he was granted new benefits to which the enacting power might lawfully attach the condition of exclusiveness as a remedy. It would appear, however, that a law