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Oregon The list of hazardous occupations to which the workmen's compensation act of Oregon is applicable was extended, by chapter 340, so as to include county surveyors, their deputies and assistants engaged in field work.
Pennsylvania DOUBLE compensation is provided by the Legislature of Pennsylvania (Act No. 29) in the case of injured children illegally employed, the extra compensation being paid by the employer as a penalty; any provision in an insurance policy undertaking to relieve an employer from such liability is void. Act No. 205 specifies that in appeal cases the court must, within five days after a judgment has been rendered, give notice of such by registered mail to each attorney appearing in the case or to the parties themselves if not represented by counsel. Act No. 151 merely provides for insurance in the State fund on the basis of a year and not on the basis of a given calendar year.
Philippine Islands The amendments to the compensation law of the Philippine Islands were made by the legislature during the year of 1930. The annual legislative year begins in the summer and continues for 100 days. Information as to whether any changes were made by the 1931 legislature was not available at the time the present article was compiled.
The Philippine compensation act was amended in 1930, by Act No. 3812, and became effective on December 8, 1930. The coverage of the act was extended to mounted messengers in the service of the insular government, and employees engaged in coastwise trade. Employees operating mechanical agricultural implements and public employees receiving annually 2,000 pesos or less are also covered. An injury to be compensable now must “arise out of and in the course of the employment." For the loss of an eye the period of compensation is increased from 84 to 100 weeks. The law specifies that any compensation paid is for the use or benefit of the widow or widower and the dependent children, and the bureau of labor may adjust the compensation between them in the most suitable manner possible.
In lump-sum cases the reduction must not be more than 20 per cent of the amount fixed by the law. Attorney's fees are now fixed for the prosecution of a claim at 5 per cent of the award, and 10 per cent if court action is necessary.
SEVERAL amendments were made to the workmen's compensation law by Act No. 78, of the regular session of the 1931 Porto Rico Legislature. The principal changes were as follows:
Weekly compensation is (under sec. 3) to be paid the injured laborer from the date he presents himself to the physician for treatment and not from the date of the accident.
The industrial commission is to have the initiative in entering into contracts with physicians, hospitals, etc., subject to approval by the commissioner of health; laborers who fail to present themselves to a physician within a reasonable time after the accident may be deprived of their right to receive compensation; insurers are obliged to bring before the commission, at their own expense, injured laborers affected with any partial permanent or total disability in order that the degree of disability may be established, and the insurer shall pay for this medical service. (Sec. 5.)
The fee for attending as a witness before the industrial commission has been reduced from $2 to $1, and traveling expenses by the most economical route are permitted. (Sec. 9.)
When agreements entered into between insurers and laborers are not approved by the industrial commission, because in its judgment their terms do not conform to the law, the commission shall decide the matter without further hearing, in accordance with the evidence in the case. (Sec. 10.)
The time in which to file with the district court a petition for review from a decision of the commission has been changed by section 15 from 10 to 15 days.
Agreements entered into between laborers and employers who, in violation of law, have not insured in any of the forms provided by law, are excluded from the provisions of section 21.
Employers unduly reporting any labor accident shall be liable for all the expenses incurred by the commission on account of said report. Any employer reporting as his own an accident sustained by a laborer working for an employer who, in violation of law, is uninsured, shall be punished by the industrial commission (under sec. 22) by a fine not exceeding $200.
The tax levied on insurance companies to help to support the industrial commission has been raised (sec. 52) from 3 to 5 per cent.
In South Dakota the coverage of the workmen's compensation act was extended by chapter 269, to include the operation of threshing machines, grain combines, corn shellers, corn huskers, shredders, silage cutters, and seed hullers. Chapters 270 and 271 authorize and regulate associations for exchanging reciprocal or interinsurance contracts.
The Texas compensation law was amended in 1931, by some 13 acts. The following changes warrant special mention: The placing of illegally employed minors under the act (ch. 154); the increase in funeral benefits from $100 to $250 (ch. 178); the barring of compensation under the Texas law of an employee injured outside the State who elects to pursue his remedy and recovers in such other State (ch. 90); the provision that refusal to submit to “other remedial treatment recognized by the State" may be a cause for a reduction or suspension of compensation by the board, and the empowering of such board to punish for contempt and to bar anyone guilty of unethical conduct from practicing before it (ch. 102); the provision that an order of the industrial board attested to by any member is admissible as evidence in all courts of the State (ch. 89); and that an application to review an order denying the payment of compensation must be made to the board within 12 months (ch. 155). Chapter 179 imposes upon the board the duty of hearing an employee's case within a reasonable time, but the hearing may be delayed if such employee is receiving medical care or compensation; the decision by the board in the latter case is final. As to the right of appeal the compensation law was amended in several instances: The clerk of the court must within 20 days after an appeal is filed, or a judgment rendered, notify the board of such action by mailing a certified copy of such record, and for failure to do so a penalty of $250 is provided (ch. 182); hereafter upon the filing of a case for review in a county court other than the county in which the injury occurred, such court must transfer it to the court having jurisdiction (ch. 208); in a pending court claim the industrial accident board must, upon request of any interested party, furnish a copy of the employer's notice of becoming a subscriber under the act (ch. 224); in appeals from an award the district court is limited to the subject matter of the appeal, and may not adjudicate any right as to exemplary damages; and payments of compensation made before due must be discounted at 6 per cent compounded annually (ch. 248).
By the provisions of chapter 170, an employer of labor under the Federal longshoremen's and harbor workers' compensation act may become a subscriber to the Texas employers' insurance association; and by chapter 171 the industrial commission is given power to establish and promulgate classifications of hazards and rates of premium applicable to the act.
Vermont The only compensation legislation passed in Vermont in 1931 was an act (ch. 114) changing the time in which the commissioner must make his award from 6 months to 60 days.
Washington IN WASHINGTON several changes were made in the compensation act. By the provisions of chapter 79 a master or member of a crew of any vessel is now excepted from the coverage provisions of the act. A material and detailed change was made in the method of determining the amounts payable into the State fund by chapter 104. Thus, the department of labor and industries must each year make an estimate of the pay-roll percentages to be paid into the fund, based on the average experience cost of each employer per $100 of pay roll in each class during the 2-year period immediately preceding September 1. The actual rate is fixed at 25 per cent of the basic rate plus 75 per cent of the employer's cost per $100 of pay roll over the 2-year period next preceding the then last September 1, limited, however, to 175 per cent of the basic rate. Coal mines are not affected by the new amendment. Chapter 116 provides that the costs and expenses in appeal cases shall hereafter be paid from the medical and accident funds, each bearing one-half of the expense.
The Wisconsin compensation law was amended in many respects, The principal changes are as follows: The waiting period was reduced from 7 to 3 days, with no waiting period if the disability extends
beyond 10 days. (Ch. 66.) Compensation for permanent disability to a person under 30 years of age is to be based on the probable wages earned at the age of 27. (Ch. 42.) Compensation for partial disability is increased (by ch. 101) from 65 per cent to 70 per cent of the average weekly wages. The act now compulsorily applies to private employers usually employing three or more employees, with the exception of farmers or farm labor. (Ch. 87.) Chapter 14 liberalizes the death benefit provisions in the case of surviving children of a divorced parent. Chapter 132 provides that, in third-party cases, acceptance of compensation no longer operates as an assignment of a claim against the third party, nor does a settlement with a third party operate as a waiver of a claim for compensation. The principal change made by the provisions of chapter 210 is that the number of weeks now varies according to the severity of the disability, whereas under the former provision the weekly amount of compensation varied, but the number of weeks remained the same for a given age. The industrial commission is empowered by chapter 413 to direct an injured employee in cases of dispute to be examined by an impartial physician at the expense of the employer. An award may be set aside by the commission within three years, whenever it appears that a mistake has been made in an award of compensation for an injury, when in fact the employee was suffering an occupational disease. (Ch. 414.) Chapter 433 gives the commission the power to divide death benefits among dependents, and also to redistribute the same. An insurance company's license may be revoked, under chapter 244 whenever it fails to pay claims promptly or fails to submit reports; this may be done by the commissioner of insurance, upon complaint of the industrial commission. By chapter 327 the Wisconsin Rating and Inspection Bureau has the right to assign rejected risks to a member company. Chapters 403 and 469 were laws enacted at the request of the reviser of statutes, and merely simplified the language and form of the acts, without changing the substantive provisions of the law.
CHAPTER 94 made several changes in the Wyoming workmen's compensation law. The list of extra hazardous occupations is enlarged to include gasoline filling and bulk oil stations, ditch riders of irrigation districts, and "dude ranching." The monthly service and policing charge has been greatly reduced and the amount required to be paid by nonresident employers has been doubled. The schedule for specific injuries in permanent partial disability cases has been substantially increased in all cases except toe injuries. The balance of an award, after the payment of $270 upon the remarriage of a surviving spouse, now reverts to any dependent children instead of to the general fund as heretofore. The dependent children also receive the unpaid balance in the case of the death of the surviving spouse. Only in the case of no dependent children, or upon the death of the last surviving child, does the unpaid balance revert to the general fund. The Commission on Revision of the Wyoming Statutes, by the provisions of chapter 73 (secs. 59, 60, and 61) made several changes in sections 4328, 4330, and 4336 of the workmen's compensation act. The principal change was the extension of time from 30 to 70 days in
the filing of appeal cases in the supreme court. The plaintiff must now file a brief within 15 days and the defendant must do likewise within the same time thereafter, instead of the former period of 30 days allowed both parties. (Sec. 4328.) Sections 4330 and 4336 are merely changed in form.
Report on Study of Oregon Workmen's Compensation Law "HE governor's interim committee on the Oregon workmen's
compensation law, appointed under authority of a joint legislative resolution, has submitted a majority report signed by the 15 members, dated January, 1931. To the report is appended a minority report by one of the members, dated February, 1931; reports to the committee from an actuary employed to examine the financial condition of the accident funds, premium rate levels, and contemplated administrative changes in the law; and a report and recommendations from the State Industrial Accident Commission.
The majority report of the committee points out that the actuarial investigation shows that the reserve for pension awards--the segregated accident fund-is being computed according to the requirements of the law, and is in balance. The examination of the industrial accident fund shows that the fund is solvent; but in the opinion of the actuary, whose estimate of unsettled claims differs from that of the industrial accident commission, the surplus is too small for the safety of the fund against contingency factors. The actuary advocates an increase of not less than 10 per cent in average premium rates, as well as the establishment of a statistical bureau to develop actuarial statistics.
As the committee does not believe it was charged with the duty of suggesting rates, it merely recommends that it be made obligatory for the industrial accident commission to promulgate adequate rates each year, but it also recommends that the statutory limit on the surplus, $300,000, be increased to $500,000, and that the surplus be gradually increased to this amount. The immediate establishment of a statistical department is further recommended.
Other principal recommendations by the committee for administrative changes are: Right of appeal by an injured worker on both law and fact; elimination of jury trials in appeals, and of contingent fees for attorneys in appeals; penalizing employers who make workers contribute more than the statutory 1 cent per day to the fund; refusing benefits of act to employers in default of payments to the fund; reduction of 5 per cent of premium for satisfactory accident-prevention work; distribution of statistical and accident-prevention information to employers, employees, and the public; reduction of benefits to alien dependents, and limiting of alien dependency; changing compensation payments from a monthly to a semimonthly basis; authorizing the commission to determine, after a hearing, if any occupation is hazardous under the act; abolition of the automatic feature of coverage under the law, requiring application and fee for coverage, and excluding employers with less than four employees; establishing a 5-day waiting period; increase in compensation benefits for permanent disabilities; and resumption of State contributions, at a rate of not less than 5 per cent of total receipts of the fund in each preceding biennium.