Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

а

designated industries or groups of industries, and others those that fall within a specified description. In a few cases the number of employees is a determining factor; and in a few cases employees classed as casual are not considered.

ELECTION.-Under this head are considered the methods prescribed for the expression by employers and workmen of their choice as to the adoption or rejection of the system proposed. The New Hampshire law is unique in requiring an employer making election to show financial ability or give bond to pay the compensation provided.

DEFENSES ABROGATED IF EMPLOYER DOES NOT ELECT.-In case the employer does not elect, it is usually provided that he shall not be permitted to offer the customary defenses to actions for injuries to workmen. This abrogation may be effected by a separate general law, or it may form an inseparable part of the same law that offers the new system. Of course this feature does not appear in compulsory laws. Some laws that use the number of employees as a basis for classification of industries covered permit employers having a smaller number to elect to adopt the system, but provide no limitation of defenses in case they do not so elect.

SUITS FOR DAMAGES.—In only a few of the laws and bills is the suit for damages under the liability law absolutely done away with, the usual provision being that where the employer is personally negligent, or is guilty of serious or willful misconduct, or violates a law enacted for the protection of his workmen, a damage suit may be instituted against him. This remedy is usually in lieu of the compensation system, and the choice of one bars the alternative remedy. In Washington, however, provision is made for the suit as a cumulative remedy, but only in case the injury results from the “deliberate intention” of the employer. The law of this State also provides that if an employer is in default in the payment of premiums an employee may waive his insurance benefit and sue for damages; in such cases the defenses of assumed risks and fellow service are abrogated and contributory negligence is to be measured.

SPECIAL CONTRACTS.—Under this head are considered chiefly those provisions of the laws or bills that relate to contracts between employers and their workmen modifying in any way the provisions of the statute. Under the British compensation law the question of "contracting out” or superseding the provisions of the statute by a substitute agreement has been prominent from the first. That law permits the adoption of such schemes as provide terms not less favorable to the workmen than those of the law. Such contracts are forbidden in some of the laws and bills under consideration, while others resemble the British statute in permitting them under prescribed conditions.

[ocr errors]

BURDEN OF Cost.-In all the compensation schemes the employer alone is charged with the duty of meeting the costs of the payments provided for injury or death. In the cooperative insurance laws it is provided, as the name implies, that the premium costs shall be shared by the employers and workmen. In the Ohio bill the employer is authorized to charge one-tenth of the premium against the employees' wages.

PERIOD OF DISABILITY REQUIRED TO SECURE COMPENSATION.-In practically every case a "waiting time" or uncompensated period is provided for. This period is usually one or two weeks, provision being sometimes made for payments from the beginning where the disability continues beyond a certain period. The Montana statute seems not to provide for temporary disability, at least of less than 12 weeks, while the Washington statute contains no provision as to "waiting time."

COMPENSATION PROVISIONS.- These provisions vary so widely and abound in so many qualifications that only the principal facts in this connection could be presented in a table. In some cases separate provision is made for funeral expenses of employees dying as the result of accident, while in others this expense must be met from the amount paid as compensation. The amount to be paid is generally scaled according to the degree of dependence or the number of beneficiaries while in other cases it is a fixed sum. It is a common provision that medical and funeral expenses up to a certain maximum, varying from $100 to $200, shall be paid where there are no dependents. Injury benefits paid prior to death are usually deducted from the sum payable at death. In but few of the laws or proposed laws is the fact recognized that in cases of total disability the family is more heavily burdened than where death ensues as an early consequence of the injury. Questions of partial disability receive quite varied treatment, detailed schedules of rates for specified injuries being provided in some cases, while in others the matter is left to estimate and award according to the decision of a board or body intrusted with the administration of the law. In a majority of cases separate provision is made for medical and surgical aid; this form of benefit has been found most important in European experience, as securing prompt attention to injuries which might otherwise be neglected and thus lead to prolonged or even permanent disability, when early care might prevent these serious and burdensome consequences. Where a continuing pension was provided, it was found necessary to require injured workmen to avail themselves of the opportunity to secure a restoration of the capacity for self-support, since they would otherwise remain a burden on the fund, endangering the possibility of its adequate maintenance. It may be noted in this connection that in five States and one Territory the need of provision for hos

a

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

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

it of earnings

weeks; not 0 weekly; no ats, $200.

receives a lump s continues, "the

« AnteriorContinuar »