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Sixty-three of the cases decided by the district courts were determinations of the amount of compensation due. The employer recognized and admitted that the employe had a claim for compensation but disagreed with the employe with reference to the amount due. The court's sole duty in these cases was to determine the amount due. In 19 other cases the employer either refused to admit that the employe had a claim at all or refused to pay the claim. Fifteen of these actions resulted in judgments for the employe and four for the employer.
Twenty-one decisions were required in fatal cases to determine the names and degrees of dependency of surviving dependents. Nine of these were cases where the dependents were aliens and payment had to be made through the respective consulates.
The employers denied that the injury arose out of the occupation in 11 cases and in seven of these the court sustained the employer's contention. In four they maintained that the injured was a casual laborer. They were sustained in three of these. In four cases, however, where the employer maintained that the injured was not an employe the court awarded compensation in each case.
Seven cases arose under the medical section of the act, six of which were won by the employes, and six in connection with lump sum payments, three of which were won by the employe, The other 11 cases passed upon special points such as the constitutionality of the act, its territorial scope, or whether a given person was operating under the act when he caused an injury. The contentions of the employer have been upheld in about 25 of the 144 cases in the district courts. There were several cases where the courts awarded amounts of compensation which the employer had offered to pay before the action was started.
Seven of the 27 supreme court cases were appealed to the supreme court on allegations that the lower court had not awarded the correct amount of compensation and four on the ground that the injury did not arise out of the occupation. Three involved the question of the degree of dependency, and two whether or not policemen and firemen are covered by the act. The other cases each involved the construction of some special paragraph of the act, except the case which determined its constitutionality. Except in two cases the district courts were sustained by the supreme court.
The tables published on subsequent pages show in detail the amounts of compensation paid for the various classes of injuries in 1914-15 and 1915-16. Similar figures for the nine months ending June 30, 1914, will be found on pages 44 to 47 of the 1913-14 biennial report. More detailed tabulations are published in this report, however, than in the 1914 report. Only one 1914 table is omitted, the table on “irregular cases,” printed on page 47 of the 1914 report was dropped in this report. This table consisted of cases in which more compensation was paid than was due and of disputed cases settled by compromise. It was deemed advisable to discontinue the table and to discuss these two types of cases separately in this analysis.
Table 1 shows the number of fatal accidents reported each year during the last seven years. It will be observed that there has been a sharp increase in fatal accidents during the past year, following five years in which fatalities decreased steadily with the exception of 1913-14, when there was a slight increase followed by a marked decrease in 1914-15. The increase in 1915-16 is partly accounted for by a greater volume of business carried on, but this is not a sufficient explanation of all of the increase. An examination of the fatal accident reports filed with the department during the year shows an unusual number of fatalities apparently due to the negligence of both the employers and the employes. Scaffolds, hoists, poles used for stringing wires, and other equipment seem to have broken more frequently than usual; while an unusual number of men were killed by careless fellow workmen starting machinery when repairs were in progress, throwing materials, and in other ways injuring their fellows.
Tables 2 and 2a show the total amounts of compensation paid to the injured or their families for each class of injuries in the cases "closed" during 1914-15 and 1915-16. Tables 3 and 3a, which immediately follow Table 2a, show the amounts of compensation paid by each group of industries during the same period.
The expression “closed case" means a case in which all of the compensation due the injured has been paid. The department, in its filing system and its statistical analysis, divides the accident cases into four classes: (1) slight, or “B” cases, causing a disability of less than two weeks in which no compensation will be paid; (2) severe, or “A” cases, in which compensation will be due but in which no evidence has yet been presented to the department that payments have been started; (3) partially closed, or “P” cases, in which payments have been begun but the total amount that will be due the injured has not yet been paid; and (4) closed, or “C” cases, in which the injured or his family have received all the compensation to which they are entitled and the matter is closed as between the injured and his employer.
The closed or “C” cases are the only ones included in these tabulations.
Tables 2 and 2a bring out some interesting facts. Of $402,297.56 compensation received by the injured in 1914-15, $216,245.50, or 54 per cent, was for temporary injuries, and of $424,083.79 received in 1915-16, $211,385.67, or 50 per cent, was for temporary injuries. Adding the figures for temporary injuries for 1913-14 (compensation for temporary disabilities, $69,173.05; gross wage loss, $201,658.50 (1) ) we find that the total wage loss of the 11,538 workmen who have received compensation for temporary disabilities between October 1, 1913, and June 30, 1916, was $1,320,681, while the total compensation they received was $496,804.22. Their compensation therefore amounted to about 37.5 per cent of their wage loss. A compensation law which pays 50 per cent of the wage loss after a two weeks waiting period therefore pays less than 40 per cent of the workman's total wage loss. The average rate of compensation in Minnesota is $7.49 per weeksay $7.50. A one-week waiting period would have increased the compensation in these cases 11,538 times $7.50 per week, or $76,735. This is $2,319 a month and $27,828 a year. The one-week waiting period would also cause a week or part of a week's compensation to be paid in those cases where the disability is more than one week and less than two weeks. The exhaustive study made by the Ohio Industrial Commission on 96,952 temporary accidents show that 16 per cent of all temporary disabilities terminate within the second week. (2.) Disregarding the fact that some of the non-fatal injuries reported in the last three years have been of a permanent character, and assuming that a one-week waiting period would increase the compensations in temporary, disability cases to the extent of requiring the payment of compensation for an entire week in an additional 16 per cent of the nonfatal cases we get the following figures: Non-fatal accidents under act since October 1, 1913, 33,498. Sixteen per cent of these cases would be 5,360 cases. One week's compensation at $7.50 per week in 5,360 cases would be $40,200, or an average cost of $1,318 a month, or $15,816 a year. A change from a two-week to a one-week waiting period would therefore apparently cost $43,644 a year. Our statement in a previous portion of this report that the additional would not exceed $60,000 a year is therefore sufficiently conservative.
The figures shown by tables 2 and 2a also reinforce some of the conclusions with respect to permanent injuries that were emphasized on page 30 of the department's last report. It was there pointed out that the loss of fingers and loss of eyes are the two most expensive forms of permanent injury. The experience of the last two years phasizes the same point. Fingers lost or crippled have cost $154,037.79 in the first 33 months under the act, while eyes have cost $87,785.66. Probably not less than $200,000 has also been paid in temporary disability compensation for injuries to the same members, and we are moved to suggest that if each individual employer would make a special study of the manner in which his own employes
(1) Biennial Report for 1913-14, p. 31.
(2) Bulletin of the Industrial Commission of Ohio, Vol. III, No. 1, entitled "Industrial Accidents in Ohio, January 1, 1914, to June 30, 1915, at page 39.
get their hands and eyes hurt he might materially decrease his compensation costs.
Tables 3 and 3a show the total amounts of compensation paid to the injured or their dependents classified by industries. Columns 2, 3, 4, 5 of the table show the number of cases of each type of injury included in the table; column 6 the average weekly wage loss suffered by the injured or his family on account of the injury; and column 7 the total weekly wage loss they incurred. Columns 8 to 11 show the compensation received in lieu of the wages lost. Column 8 shows the average weekly compensation due to the injured in each industry; and column 9 the total weekly compensation due. The tenth column is based on column 8 and shows the total amount of compensation due the injured for the actual number of weeks disabled. Column 10 was obtained by multiplying the figures in column 8 by the total number of weeks' compensation to which the injured in each specific industry were entitled. Column 11 differs from column 10 in this: column 10 shows the amounts of compensation to which the injured were entitled if they received their compensation periodically, while column 11 shows the amount of cash that the injured actually received. Many of them settled their claims in advance in a lump sum, and in such cases the future payments due were discounted to their present value. Column 12 shows by industries the total amount of such discounts allowed by the injured in consideration of a lump sum payment.
Some very interesting figures on wages can also be obtained from these tables. The 1913-14 report (page 110) shows that the average wage reported in 3,918 accident settlements were $15.14 per week. Table 3 shows the average for 1914-15 to have been $14.95 per week, and table 3a the average for 1915-16 to have been $15. Inasmuch as these averages are based upon the wages of 12,461 typical workmen in the various industries, and the figures are based upon sworn statements of both employers and employes, they are highly useful in an understanding of wage conditions in Minnesota. A careful study of tables 3 and 3a will reveal that no industry's accidents showed an average wage above $17.60 in 1914-15, or $18.73 in 1915-16, and none showed an average below $11.20 in 1914-15, or $11.19 in 1915-16. The average rate of compensation was $7.42 per week in 1913-14; $7.43 in 1914-15, and $7.55 in 1915-16. The sharp increase in 1915-16 is due to the increase of the weekly minimum from $6 to $6.50 and the maximum from $10 to $11.
There were 23 cases reported in 1913-14; 65 in 1914-15, and 59 in 1915-16 in which the employer paid more compensation than was due. The total excess compensation paid in these cases in 1913-14 was $1,345.44; in 1914-15, $4,035.79, and in 1915-16, $4,254.87. In some of these cases the employer paid the employe's full wages while disabled and in others paid compensation from the day of injury. There are several large employers who either pay full wages or disregard the waiting period but who take a release from their employes for only the amount they were required to pay under the act. The figures given do not really show, therefore, all that has been paid in excess of the amounts required by the law.
Each year there are a number of cases settled as “compromise cases. In 1915-16, 26 of these were closed. They are cases where the employer claims that no accident occurred, that the injury did not occur in the course of the employment, or that he is not liable for some other reason, but pays some compensation in a compromise agreement with the injured.
Fatal Cases. There were 61 fatal cases "closed" during 1914-15. All of these cases came under the law of 1913, with its $6 minimum, $10 maximum, and its very unfair provisions with respect to partial dependents. The total amount paid in these 61 cases was $55,746.66 (table 4), of which $2,565.22 was paid as funeral expenses in 21 cases where there were no dependents. The other $53,181.44 was paid as compensation in the 40 cases where there were dependents. The fourteen cases of partial dependency were settled for $9,371, an average of $670 per case; and five "compromise cases" for $3,375 (1). The other $35,435.44 was paid in the 21 cases where the dependents had been wholly dependent upon the deceased.
The average compensation paid in these 21 cases was $1,687.40. The $35,435.44 paid as compensation in these 21 cases was paid, for the benefit of 19 widows, 51 children and 2 parents, or a total of 72 dependents (table 4).
There were 67 fatal cases closed during 1915-16. Forty-nine of these cases came under the 1913 law and 17 under the 1915 law (table 4A). The total amount paid in these 67 cases was $42,029.14. Funeral expenses in 24 cases where there were no dependents amounted to $2,185.19; an average of $91.05 per case. The other $39,843.95 was paid as compensation in the 43 cases where there were dependents. The 20 cases of partial dependency were settled for $14,638.39, an average of $731.92 per case and nine compromise cases for $2,935. The other $22,270.56 was paid in the fourteen cases of "wholly dependent.” The average compensation in these cases was $1,590.76.
Tables 4B and 4C show the 1915-16 cases settled under the 1913 law and under the 1915 law separately. The number of 1915 cases is too small, in our opinion, to justify statistical comparisons between the laws at this time.
Numerous inquiries have been made from time to time relative to the amounts of money paid in compensation for the various classes of permanent injuries. Probably few compensation questions are receiving more discussion throughout the country than the advisability of having a set schedule for "specific,” i. e., permanent injuries of definite types. Some maintain that it is the only fair and practical method of dealing with these injuries, while others contend that the economic loss suffered by a workman when he loses a finger or other given member can only be appraised when we know the importance of that member in his particular occupation. It is self-evident that the loss of a couple of fingers is much more serious to a jeweler, printer or lathe operator than to a workman who handles only such tools as a shovel. The table which we present in connection with this matter shows exactly and in detail the compensation received in Minnesota for the various specific injuries.
The figures are given for 1914-15 and 1915-16 separately because of the different maximum and minimum weekly compensations provided by the 1913 and the 1915 acts, and the change in the number of weeks' compensation allowed for some of the more serious injuries. But it must be borne in mind that a considerable portion of the cases tabulated in the 1915-16 table occurred before July 1, 1915, and were, therefore, settled under the 1913 act. The small number of cases of each type included in the tables makes any attempt to make a comparison of the 1913 and 1915 laws from thesė tables impossible. The conclusions would be unsound.
Column 2 of tables 5 and 5A shows the number of cases where the part of the body mentioned in column 1 was actually severed and column 3 the number of cases where the use of the part was lost but without severance from the body. The only exception to this rule is in the case of eye injuries, where the cases of total loss of sight are listed in column 2 whether the eye was removed or not. Our reports do not always show whether the eye was taken out.
It will be observed from the table that loss of use without amputation constitutes a very serious type of permanent injury. Eighty of the 413 cases listed in the 1914-15 tables and 187 of the 479 partial disability cases listed in the 1915-16 tables were “loss of use" cases. All of the five total permanent disability cases are also in reality of the same type.
It will be noted_that the last item in these tables is the total permanent disabilities. Two of these cases were closed in 1914-15 for $2,795.66 and $2,417.27. Five more were closed in 1915-16; four of them under the 1913 law and one under the 1915 law. The four cases under the 1913 law received an average compensation of $2,596.94; the 1915 cases, $4,005.28.
(1) A compromisé case is one in which the employer denies liability to the claimant and the parties agree to compromise their dispute in lieu of a trial in court.
Tables 6 and 7 summarize the compensations paid for non-fatal injuries by the various industries. The data in these tables is found in combination with the data for fatal injuries in tables 2A and 3A. The data is here published separately in order that the reader may discover the costs of the various types of injuries to the various industrial groups.
Table 8 is an important study in connection with temporary injuries. It shows the exact periods of disability which result from various types of these injuries. The table, of course, refers only to cases where the disability lasted more than two weeks, thereby entitling the injured to compensation. It shows both the number and per cent of the injuries which terminated at various periods of time from the third week onward.
Tables 9 and 10 show the wages and ages of the injured whose cases were closed in 1914-16. It will be observed from table 10 that 10.64 per cent of the injured earned not more than $10 per week; 22.20 per cent from $10.01 to $12.50 per week; 31.40 per cent from $12.51 to $15; 24.16 per cent from $15.01 to $20, and 8.15 per cent from $20 to $25 per week, and 3.51 per cent over $25 a week. An increase in the weekly maximum would therefore increase the compensations of about 7 per cent of the injured.
As in past years the bulk of the injured were between 22 and 40 years of age, a little over 50 per cent are married and less than 100 a year of the injured are women. About four-fifths of the disabled speak English.