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compensation by the individual employer, although a private fund which is supported by a combination of several employers closely approaches an employers' mutual accident insurance association. The permission to private employers to substitute a fund for the obligation of insurance was mainly due to the desire to preserve such funds where they already existed and also to provide for comparatively large employers, who could ascertain in advance with considerable accuracy the probable cost of accident compensation. As in the case of mutual associations, private funds require authorization, must furnish guaranties, and are subject to government control.
A private fund may be organized either by an individual establishment or by several establishments in the same industry or in the same locality. The authorization of the ministry is necessary, and such authorization is granted upon petition, which must give all necessary information as to the establishments, together with a statement from the national insurance institution as to the annual amount of insurance premiums which would be required to purchase insurance for the risk, and evidence of having complied with the requirements as to the guaranty. The private funds are governed by their respective constitutions, which must state the scale of compensations paid. This scale must not be lower than that prescribed by the law.
When the private fund is organized by several establishments joined for that purpose, the constitutions must state the period for which such union is affected; methods of determining the coefficient of risk of each establishment and the contribution of each establishment, conditions for admission of other establishments, provision for collective responsibility, methods of amending the constitution, and liquidating the fund if necessary. The ministry may introduce changes in the constitution of such funds with the approval of the council of state and publish them as royal decrees.
For the private funds the guarantee fund must not be less than five times the insurance premiums in accordance with the rates of the National Accident Insurance Institution, if the membership does not exceed 2,000, and three times the insurance premium but not less than 40,000 lire ($7,720) for the largest funds. The same conditions relative to the management of the guarantee fund-concerning dissolution, reinsurance, examination of accounts, etc.—which have been given in connection with the mutual associations, also apply to the private funds.
Three cooperative funds were authorized in 1899, one in 1901, three in 1904, two in 1906, and one in 1907; one of these suspended operations in 1905 and one in 1906. At the end of 1906 there were known to exist seven such cooperative funds. One of these covered nearly 20,000 employees, two about 6,000 each, one over 2,000; the three remaining protected less than a thousand employees each.
OPERATIONS OF COOPERATIVE INSURANCE FUNDS OF ITALY, 1901 TO 1906. (Source: Bollettino di Notizie sul Credito e sulla Previdenza, August, 1906, and September, 1908.)
Eight private funds for individual establishments qualified in 1899 and 2 in 1900. In 1903, 1904, and 1905, 11 more were organized. One of them, in the large cotton manufacturing establishment in Turin, had a membership of 3,600 and 1 of 2,800. Three of them are organized in connection with establishments employing from 1,000 to 2,000 persons, and 9 in connection with establishments employing fewer than 1,000 persons each. It will be unnecessary to give here the detailed figures concerning each of the twenty or more private funds existing in Italy at the end of 1906. The total data have been given in connection with the general discussion of the results of the operation of the accident insurance law.
The rapid increase in the number of accidents and in the number of cases carried into court created the feeling in administrative circles that the administration of the law, notwithstanding the various efforts at reform, was lax and open to criticism. As early as 1903, during the parliamentary debates preceding the adoption of the amendatory act of June 29, 1903, both chambers passed resolutions requesting the Government to prepare legislative proposals for the establishment of special tribunals for the adjudication of actions arising under this law and for the simplification of the judicial procedure in such actions.)
In conformity with these resolutions, on May 31, 1905, a commission was appointed for the study of the question. The commission admitted that the regular tribunals-accustomed to consider cases according to the well-established principles of the common law, were not well adapted to sit in cases arising under this special act, which was based upon a different conception of the relations between capital and labor than that held in common law. It recognized,
a Bollettino di Notizie sul Credito e sulla Previdenza, 1908, p. 256. 67725°-VOL 2-11-20
however, that the ordinary courts had an advantage over special tribunals in the general sense of legal rights and the definite habits of legal reasoning, due to experience and to professional training. The commission did not see its way to recommend the organization of special tribunals, but admitted that the adjustment of claims should not be left entirely to the individual bargaining of both parties, because the workmen or their dependent relatives do not have the necessary understanding of the correct value of their claims. It therefore suggested that in all cases the local administrative officers (pretori) act as intermediaries, representing the State and adjusting the claims on a basis equitable to both parties; that all decisions of the "pretori” up to 1,500 lire ($289.50) be final and without appeal, and in such cases where larger sums are concerned the appeals be considered by the ordinary courts of appeal; that by appropriate administrative decrees attorneys at law be discouraged from interfering with the administration of the law; and that the fees of attorneys and medical and other experts be regulated by decree.
This plan, expressed in a draft of a bill published toward the end of 1905, came up for discussion in the Superior Council of Labor. In the last session of 1905 the council, in view of the serious abuses of the law in Rome, instructed the Bureau of Labor in cooperation with the General Office of Credit and Provident Institutions to prepare a careful report concerning the administration of the law, and this report came up for discussion in the first session of the council for 1907. The suggestion of the commission of 1905 to delegate the important judicial powers to the “pretori" did not meet with the approval of the council. It was argued that these administrative officers had neither the time nor the necessary medical or technical training for the consideration of these claims; that they were not free from local influences, and were likely to be more influenced by the employers and insurance institutions than by the workmen. As to the best substitutes for such administrative intervention, the suggestions offered embraced special courts, an autonomous central insurance office in Rome, and the adaptation of special simplified methods of procedure in the ordinary courts.
A careful study of all these suggestions and of the legislation and practice of other European countries formed the basis for a bill for the reform of administrative procedure in connection with accident insurance, which was introduced on March 13, 1908, by the minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce, in the Chamber of Deputies.
The legislative proposal introduced by the ministry is divided into two distinct parts. The first deals with the specific problem of disputes arising under the law and the second aims at a general reform of administrative procedure.
The arguments in favor of special tribunals prevailed. The bill proposes the organization of special provincial or distinct commissions for consideration of controversies arising under this law. A commission is to be established in the capital of each Province to have jurisdiction of that Province. If necessary, separate commissions may be established by royal decree, upon recommendation of the minister of agriculture, in separate districts (circondario), with jurisdiction over that district, which is then taken out of the jurisdiction of the provincial commission. Thus the effort is to provide all industrial localities with commissions conveniently located, so that there may be no hardship to the poor claimant.
Each commission is to consist of three members, the president of the local tribunal, the provincial physician, and the local chief engineer, they furnishing the expert knowledge necessary for the proper consideration of the claims-law, medicine, and engineering.
The procedure before these special tribunals is to be much simpler than in the regular courts.
Minors over 18 years may appear in their own cases, and married women do not require the authorization of the husband. Attorneys or counsel are not necessary. Proceedings must be oral, as a rule. Briefs may be filed only by permission of the commission. Witnesses may be examined by the commission, and in the examination of witnesses, as well as in the entire procedure, the legal rules of procedure are not obligatory.
Considerable stress is laid upon the technical features of the case, the examination of which may be made either by the entire commission or by any one of its members delegated for that purpose. The commission or the member delegated may visit the place of accident or any other place necessary to verify the statements of the injured employee or any witness.
Thus the commission is given the right and opportunity to inform itself in a most direct manner with all the facts in the case. In addition, it is given the right to appoint outside medical or technical experts when necessary, these experts to be assisted by the respective members of the commission. The orders of the commission have the force of judicial orders. It may order provisional payments or the deposit of guarantee funds. Its final sentences must be immediately put into execution, but they may be carried to the court of cassation in Rome on a writ of error only.
The expenditures of the commission are to be charged to a special fund of the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce, to which contributions are to be levied upon the National Accident Insurance Institution and other insurance institutions. Exemption from stamp and registry duties are to be conferred upon all acts in connection with the proceedings of these courts.
The last twelve articles of the bill (articles 22 to 33) suggest various reforms in the administration of the law, which are almost all directed toward increasing the control over the claimants and thus preventing the abuse of the law through fraud and malingering. The proposals are important as indicating the practical difficulties which necessarily must arise in the administration of an accident insurance law unless proper methods are early taken for their prevention. One of the most troublesome details in such administration, even in cases of admitted validity, is the proper method of determining the exact duration of disability, to exaggerate which there is a frequent tendency among the injured employees.
Furthermore, aside from the cases of malingering and of deception as to the length of disability, the possible carelessness in taking measures necessary for hastening recovery must be taken into account, such carelessness being due either to ignorance or to the desire to prolong the duration of benefits.
To meet these difficulties, the bill undertakes to grant to the insuring institutions the right to exercise medical control over the injured person, such control to consist of visits of a physician representing the insurance institution. The bill further provides that the injured employee shall be subject to the visit of the institution's physician; shall appear in proper medical institutions indicated by the insurance institution for the purpose of having a thorough medical examination made in order to ascertain the results of the injury, or submit to such treatment which, while being without danger, may, in the opinion of the insurance institution's physician, relieve the consequences of the accident. If the employee without good reason declines to accede to requests for any of the three enumerated measures, his compensation may be partially reduced or altogether discontinued.
While these proposals are mainly directed at the ignorance or carelessness of the injured employee, other measures are proposed for the purpose of preventing or detecting fraud and malingering. The bill intends to deprive the employee of his right to compensation under the law when (1) he has simulated or exaggerated or actually aggravated the consequences of the accident, (2) when he has returned to work while continuing to receive his daily allowance, or (3) when he has in any other way tried to deceive the employer or the insurance institution.
Finally, the third important object aimed at by the new bill is to discourage unnecessary litigation. The commission which prepared the bill recognized that frequently attorneys are responsible for fraudulent claims or unnecessary lawsuits, and the measures for counteracting these evils are directed partly against the claimants