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a workman who has been totally disabled for a period of time, but sufficiently recovered to do light work, may draw as compensation one-half the difference between the wages he is earning while partially disabled and the wage he earned before injured. For instance, a man who had been earning $18 a week when injured was able to get light work while disabled by which he earned $4.50 per week. Under section 13 (b) he was then entitled to $6.75 per week as compensation. Thus, instead of drawing $9 per week as compensation for total disability, he drew $11.25 as wages plus partial dis• ability compensation. But if section 26 was enforced the employer wouid be precluded from paying partial disability compensation within six months of the date of the injury because “all settlements * * where the amount paid or to be paid * * does not exceed the compensation for six months' disability shall be final and not subject to readjustment.” The workman, on the other hand, would be precluded from working in a partially disabled condition. He would either have to be satisfied with his compensation or forfeit his compensation and take whatever he could earn.
There is only one thing to do with section 26. Strike it out. It is absolutely useless, and if used would be pernicious. It is unfair both to the employer and to the employe. This department pointed out to the legislature of 1913 that section 26 had no place in the act and experience has more than justified our contention.
INTEREST Section 25 of the compensation act provides that when payment of compensation is made in a lump sum the employer may take a discount of 6 per cent on all future payments. It was expected that this provision would prevent adjusters from taking discounts in excess of 6 per cent, but adjusters have succeeded in getting court approval of discounts as large as 12 per cent.
The workman, on the other hand, seldom receives interest on payments that are overdue to him. Adjusters whose minds are alert to perceive that a workman who receives compensation before it is due him should pay interest to the employer by discounting the money to its present value are strangely dense when the tables are turned. We have never known a case, except when the court has ordered interest paid in a disputed case, where a workman has received interest on payments of compensation long overdue him.
We recommend that unless the employer begins payment or offers to begin payment of compensation within thirty days after the day of injury interest at 6 per cent be added to the compensation prescribed by law and be payable on all payments more than two weeks overdue. A provision of this character would be extremely valuable in preventing unnecessary delays in the payment of compensation, which are now altogether too common.
INSURANCE. The seventh paragraph of section 31a should, in the judgment of this department, be stricken from the law. The paragraph referred to begins with the words, “if the employer shall insure to his employes the payment of the compensation provided by part 2 of this act,” etc., and in substance provides that if an employer posts notices in his place of business informing his employes of the name and address of his insurer, and also files a copy of the said notice with the labor commissioner, then “any suits or actions brought by an injured employe or his dependents shall be brought directly against the insurer, and the employer or insured shall be released from any further liability.”
This portion of the law is working very badly, because the notices filed with the labor commissioner are not kept up to date by the employer, and never will be. It is a common thing for employers to cancel their insurance with one company and assume a policy with another within two, three or six months of the date on which their original policy was written, but it is the rare thing for such employers to notify this department of their cancellation of the first policy. Neither do they notify us at the end of the year whether they have renewed their policy or taken a policy with some other company. As a consequence the department of labor's record of the insurance carried by Minnesota employers is hopelessly inaccurate, so inaccurate that it is not dependable for practical use. If an employe or his attorney comes to the department and asks the name and address of his employer's insurer we can give him what our records show, but we never know whether or not we are giving him accurate information. For instance, note the following case:
An employer at Winona filed notice in 1913 and again in 1914 that he . was insured with the London Guarantee and Accident Company. On March 1, 1916, he wrote the department and said that he was insured with the London and Lancashire Indemnity Company. On April 9th, the department received an inquiry from an attorney representing a workman injured in the service of this employer, and on April 10th sent him the name of the London and Lancashire. He began suit against them under paragraph 7 of section 31a. The employer replied in court that he was not insured with the London and Lancashire and the case had to be dismissed. The employe's attorney, indignant at the misinformation received from this department, immediately wrote for an explanation. The same thing could occur in hundreds of other cases, and we are constrained to make as little use as possible of these records. We therefore recommend that this very faulty section be stricken out and that the employe be permitted in all cases to begin his action directly against the employer, and the insurer be simply empowered to defend the suit for the employer.
OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE. The definition of the word “accident” in section 34h as "an unexpected or unforeseen event, happening suddenly and violently, with or without human fault and producing at the time injury to the physical structure of the body" is an admirable definition—as a definition. Its meaning is definite and precise. But the precision and definiteness which is the chief virtue of this definition is also its chief fault. The compensation act was enacted to provide an income to workmen deprived of their earnings by industrial injuries. The function of this definition (which it performs admirably) is to divide the injured workmen into two groups—the sheep and the goats, as it were and to tell the one group that they are entitled to compensation and the other group that they are not.
It performs this function by selecting for compensation those whose injury was due to an unforeseen event, happening suddenly and violently, and producing at the time injury to the physical structure of the body, and refusing compensation to all others. Note now some of the types of claims that are turned down by this definition.
Miss A. was a stenographer. She worked at the typewriter at her highest speed for several hours each day. The muscles in her arm finally gave out. She had “typewriter's cramp.” She was disabled from her employment for many months and may never be able to recover her working efficiency. Her injury was an industrial injury. It occurred in the course of her employment. It arose out of her employment. It disabled her from her employment. It was an unexpected and unforeseen event. It disabled her at a definite time and for a definite time. It produced at the time injury to the physical structure of her body. But the injury did not happen "suddenly and violently.” Therefore it was not an accident within the meaning of the compensation act.
George K. was a night watchman in fur dressing establishment. He was required to hang up during the night the skins which had been dyed during the day. His arms, legs, face and breast became covered with sores.
At the end of four weeks under the doctor's care he was able to take a light job driving a team, but the skin irritation was still very pronounced. Many similar cases have been reported from the same industry, and from dry-cleaners, laundries, and one from a department store. Here again the injury arose out of and in the course of the employment, was due to definite industrial causes, produced injury to the physical struc
ture of the body, and was an unforeseen and unexpected event. But it did not happen suddenly and violently. It was an industrial injury that caused disability to work and required medical care. But it was not an "accident” within the definition in our act.
Joe Tuden was an employe of a lumber company. He was required to follow a water wagon which sprinkled the roads to make a frozen surface for the logging sleighs. The temperature ranged from 22 degrees above zero to 18 degrees below zero. “The performance of his aforesaid duties, said the district court of St. Louis county, “exposed him to a greater extent than the other employes of said employer to the effects of freezing weather, and by reason thereof said employe froze his head and the side of his face so severely that as the direct result thereof he lost the sight of his left eye to such an extent that he cannot read with it nor can he see an object distinctly enough to identify it if it is distant more than six inches from said eye." Said freezing arose out of and in the course of his employment” and “was caused by an unexpected and unforeseen event which produced at the time injury to the physical structure of his body.” “But,” the court continues, “I can find no definition of the words 'suddenly' and 'violently' which would enable me reasonably to say that freezing was an event which happened ‘suddenly and violently."
The cases cited are typical of a class of industrial injuries which should be covered by compensation but which are excluded from the benefits of the act by the definition under discussion-a definition invented in Minnesota and copied by none of the other thirty-two compensation states.
Occupational freezing, occupational lesions, such as writer's cramp, and occupational poisonings, should come within the scope of the compensation act in Minnesota as they already do in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
STATISTICAL REPORT ON COMPENSATION ACT. The total number of accidents reported to the department between October 1, 1913, when the compensation act went into effect, and June 30, 1916—a period of two years and nine months—has been 36,926; (1) of which 450 were fatal and 36,476 non-fatal. One hundred and twenty-nine fatal and 11,890 non-fatal accidents were reported in the statistical year ending June 30, 1915, and 195 fatal and 13,223 non-fatal in the statistical year ending June 30, 1916 (2).
But not all of these accidents came within the jurisdiction of the compensation act., Casual laborers, farm laborers and railroad employes are excluded from coverage by the act by section 8 of the compensation act. Neither are the accidents of employers who have elected not to come under the act covered. Consequently the following numbers of these accidents were not covered by the compensation act and may be disregarded in this discussion of the compensation act:
October 1, 1913, to June 30, 1914–Excluded from coverage by section 8 (3) of act, 14 fatal, 100 severe non-fatal, 933 slight.
July 1, 1914, to June 30, 1915--Excluded from coverage by section 8 of act, 11 fatal, 42 severe non-fatal, 420 slight.
Excluded from coverage by election not to come under, none fatal, 10 severe non-fatal, 28_slight.
July 1, 1915, to June 30, 1916—Excluded from coverage by section 8 of act, 15 fatal, 36 severe non-fatal, 350 slight.
Excluded from coverage by election not to come under, none fatal, 19 severe non-fatal, 40 slight.
(1) These figures do not include railroad accidents, except shop accidents. Railroad accidents are reported to the Railroad and Warehouse Commission.
(2) A special study entitled, "Industrial Accidents," has been one of the features of the last three biennial reports of this department. No such special study is contained in this biennial report, and such accident statistics as it was deemed advisable to publish are found in this workmen's. compensation report. The reason for omitting the accident report is that beginning with July 1, 1916, an entirely new classification of industries, occupations, injuries and accident causes will be put into effect and a new series of accident studies started. The new classification will be a utilization of the uniform scheme of accident classification which is published in Bulletin 201 of
This leaves the following number of accidents as reported during the three years (4) by employers who come within the provisions of the compensation act. Oct. 1, 1913, to June 30, 1914.
112 fatal, 9,330 non-fatal July 1, 1914, to June 30, 1915.
118 fatal, 11,390 non-fatal July 1, 1915, to June 30, 1916.
180 fatal, 12,778 non-fatal
408 fatal, 33,498 non-fatal The following disposition had been made of these cases up to June 30, 1916: All compensation due had been paid in 159 fatal and 12,609 nonfatal cases; payments had been reported as in progress on 138 fatal and 689 non-fatal; and no payments had yet been reported in 111 fatal and 20,200 non-fatal.
Five hundred and fifty of these 20,200 cases were injuries which would certainly require the payment of compensation, and from 500 to 1,000 of the others (the supposedly slight cases) will develop into compensation cases. The other cases, approximately 19,000 in number, caused disabilities lasting less than two weeks and will not require the payment of compensation. They are "closed cases” in the sense that no compensation will ever be paid in them.
Almost 32,000 of the 33,906 accidents coming within the jurisdiction of the compensation act reported since October 1, 1913, were therefore closed cases by June 30, 1916. Payments were in progress in 827 of the others, while the balance of the cases-between 1,000 to 1,500—had not yet been reported settled.
The great majority of the cases in which compensation had not been reported as paid or started were of course of recent origin. In other cases the injured had disappeared without claiming his compensation or refused to accept any compensation at all until he was fully recovered and knew exactly what disability he had suffered by the injury. The death cases which have not been closed up or in which payments have not started are either cases where no dependents have appeared, where proofs of dependency have not yet been presented or of recent origin. In cases where the dependents live in foreign countries or in distant parts of this country it often requires considerable time for those representing the dependents to procure the proofs of relationship and dependency.
All accidents are checked up periodically by the department to find what disposition has been made of them, so all cases in which compensation payments have not been started and have been followed up unless recent
The total amount of compensation reported as paid in the cases closed between October 1, 1913, and June 30, 1916, was:
The amounts paid out by the employers for the medical care of the injured between October 1, 1913, and June 30, 1916, were:
(4) We use the expression “three years” to refer to the period October 1, 1913, to June 30, 1916, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and which was formulated and adopted by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions to guide all the states in the compilation of accident statistics. The Minnesota Department of Labor, beginning July 1, 1916, will use the industrial classification in Bulletin 201 for all of its statistics as far as such classification can be used.
(3) Section excludes farm laborers, railroad employes and casual laborers.
Oct. 1, 1913, to June 30, 1914.
$129,715.77 207,025.78 255,542.80
Total for two years and nine months.
$592,284.35 Average per month..
18,000 The total amount reported by the employers and insurers as paid for compensation in closed cases and medical care up to June 30, 1916, was: 1913-14, $286,752.48; 1914-15, $609,323.34; 1915-16, $679,626.59; total, $1,575,702.41. These figures do not actually show the entire payments made before June 30, 1916, because there were 827 cases in which payments had been reported started before June 30 but which were not "closed" before the end of that statistical year. The payments made in these cases previous to June 30, 1916, are not included in the figures given above. An examination of the 827 cases in our partially closed file on June 30, 1916, showed that 138 of them were fatal cases, 155 permanent partial injuries, and 534 temporary injuries. There had been $77,146.33 paid on the compensation in these fatal cases previous to June 30, 1916, $53,955.64 in the permanent partial cases, and $32,233.63 in the temporary disability cases—a total of $289,362.33. Adding this sum to the $983,418.06 paid for compensation in the closed cases and the $592,284.35 paid out for medical care, we get a total of $1,865,064.74 as the benefits received by the workmen under the compensation act up to June 30, 1916. It was impossible to estimate the amount that would be payable in the temporary cases after June 30, 1916, but there was still $44,177.78 to be paid in the permanent partial cases and $245,184.55 in the death cases.
Medical care is provided under the act in two ways, the individual case system and the contract system. In the individual case system each injured person is sent to some physician hired for the particular caseeither a doctor designated by the employer or one selected by the injuredand each individual case is paid for separately. Under the contract system doctors and hospitals are engaged at a fixed annual salary or upon a percentage of the employer's annual payroll to care for all of the injured in the service of the employer. The individual case system prevails in the larger cities and the southern or manufacturing portion of the state, while the contract system is the rule in the lumbering and mining industries of the northern and northwestern portions of the state. There are a few employers in the Twin Cities who use the contract system but they are exceptions to the general rule, while the reverse is true in the lumbering and mining industries of St. Louis, Itasca, Crow Wing and the northwestern counties.
The mining companies and some of the lumber companies have a contract system which seems to be working with satisfaction to both employe and employer. The companies pay the physicians 90 cents a month for each man on the payroll three days and the men pay the physicians 35 cents. The 90 cents paid by the companies pays for the complete medical care of the men injured in industrial accidents while the 35 cents pays for sickness care for the workman and his family.
The expenditures for medical care under the compensation act up to June 30, 1916, were divided between the contract and the individual case plans as follows: 1913-14—Individual case treatment.
$ 48,247.63 Contract treatment
81,468.14 1914-15-Individual case treatment.
89,146.81 Contract treatment
117,878.97 1915-16_Individual case treatment
160,196.77 Totals—Individual case
592,284.35 One hundred and forty-six disputed cases under the compensation act were decided by the district courts up to June 30, 1916, and 27 cases by the supreme court. The number of disputes tried out in court is therefore