« AnteriorContinuar »
This Report of Workmen's Compensation Cases and Rul. ings has been prepared and published by the Michigan Industrial Accident Board as an aid in the understanding and administration of the law. It substantially covers the development and administration of the Compensation Law up to the date of publication, July, 1916, and contains, in addition to the formal opinions of the Board and Supreme Court, the Rules of Procedure, Rules and Practice to be followed in reporting accidents and adjusting cases, Miscellaneous Rulings, Opinions by the Attorney General, etc. The formal written opinions filed by the Board in what are considered leading cases, involving the interpretation of important features of the law, are published in full. All the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court in cases appealed from the decision of the Board are included in the report. These together with the Miscellaneous Rulings and other matter will, we think, show the system of administration and interpretation as developed to date. It is believed that the Report will furnish those interested in the administration of the law, or taking proceedings under the same, a means of information and guidance which can be easily and effectively used.
The constitutionality of the Michigan Law was settled in the case of Mackin vs. Detroit-Timken Axle Company, Vol. 22, Detroit Legal News, 588, the opinion being exhaustive and ably sustaining practically every feature of the law. After stating the facts in that case and before proceeding to a discussion and disposition of the legal points raised, the Court by way of introduction states the controlling principles:
“It is to be recognized at the outset that workmen's compensation legislation of this class, based on the economic principle of trade risk in that personal injury losses incident to industrial pursuits are like wages and breakage of machinery a part of the cost of production, works fundamental changes in the familiar principles underlying and governing the doctrine of liability for negligence as heretofore applied to the relation of master and servant. But it by no means follows that this comparatively recent and radical legislation upon the subject, enacted to meet changed industrial condi. tions and afford relief from evils and defects which had developed under the old rules of law in negligence cases for personal injuries of employes, violates the spirit or letter of our constitution.”
The only remaining constitutional objection was that urged by the City of Detroit and the City of Sault Ste. Marie against the provision of the Michigan Act making it mandatory as to municipalities, claiming that it invaded the right of local self-government extended to cities under the constitution of the State; also that it was in conflict with the charter provisions relative to making and giving notice of claims against cities. Both of the above cases were decided against the objecting cities, the question of the constitutional right to local self-government being fully discussed and disposed of in the case of Mary Wood v. City of Detroit, and the charter question in Purdy v. City of Sault Ste. Marie. These decisions were by the Supreme Court and in both cases affirmed the position taken by the Board.
The question as to when the employer becomes subject to the Workmen's Compensation Law is decided in Bernard v. Michigan United Traction Company, Vol. 22, Detroit Legal News, 945. Under the Michigan Act, which is elective, the first step to be taken by the employer in becoming subject to its provisions, is to file with the Industrial Accident Board a written acceptance. The law further provides for the examination and approval of acceptances so filed, by the Board. The injury in this case occurred between the time of the filing of the acceptance and its approval. The court held that the new status created by the Compensation Law is not established until the approval of the acceptance and that the date of such approval is controlling.
Adams v. Acme White Lead Color Works, 182 Mich. 157, was a case of death from lead poisoning, the lead being gradually absorbed into applicant's system while at work in re spondent's plant. The body of the Michigan Act provides for compensation in cases where the employe receives “a personal injury," while the language used in the title of the Act is “personal injury by accident.” It was held by the Supreme Court that the law does not cover occupational diseases such as lead poisoning, but must be limited to personal injuries received by accident, the restrictive language in the title and other matters pointed out in the opinion being the basis for this construction.
The Supreme Court has uniformly held that the findings and decisions of the Industrial Accident Board as to matters of fact are conclusive and not subject to review on appeal, if such findings are supported by competent evidence. Court has also held that the Board in arbitrations and hearings before it is bound by the established rules of evidence, intimating however that such rules perhaps should not be as strictly applied as in regular court proceedings. Hearsay evidence is discussed in some of the cases and the weakness and unreliability of that class of testimony pointed out. However, the Court has distinctly held that an award is not to be reversed because incompetent or hearsay evidence was admitted at the hearing, if enough competent evidence is found to reasonably sustain the decision. The cases touching upon this subject will be readily found by referring to the index of this Report under the head of "Evidence," as will another class of cases involving the question of circumstantial evidence where there is no eye witness to the accident and no one having personal knowledge of facts upon which the decision of the case depends.
The Regents of the University of Michigan and the State Board of Agriculture are constitutional bodies not subject to Legislative control, and therefore not subject to the Compensation Law without filing an election to come under its provisions. Agler v. Michigan Agricultural College, 181 Mich. 559. The Regents of the University of Michigan have filed their acceptance of the Compensation Law and are operating under the same. No acceptance has been filed by the State Board of Agriculture. There are now in effect the acceptances of 17,000 employers of labor covering more than 700,000 workers in the State. The amounts paid for compensation to injured workers and their dependents, exclusive of medical and hospital service furnished, approximate one and a half millions of dollars yearly.
INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT BOARD.
JOHN E. KINNANE, Chairman,
JAMES A. KENNEDY.