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Helminsky v. Ford Motor Co.

Decided: September 27, 1933.

HELEN HELMINSKY, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, RESPONDENT



On appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court, whose opinion is printed in 10 N.J. Mis. R. 1042; 162 Atl. Rep. 189.

For the appellant, Aaron A. Melniker (Frank W. Heilenday, of counsel).

For the respondent, Walter X. Trumbull.

Trenchard

The opinion of the court was delivered by

TRENCHARD, J. John Helminsky (hereinafter called decedent) was employed by the Ford Motor Company (hereinafter called employer) at their plant in Kearny, New Jersey. He died on November 3d, 1929. Thereafter his widow (hereinafter called the petitioner) filed a petition under the Workmen's Compensation act (Pamph. L. 1911, p. 134) claiming compensation. The workmen's compensation bureau made an award in her favor. That award was affirmed by the Hudson Common Pleas Court. The latter judgment, on certiorari, was reversed by the Supreme Court, and the petitioner appeals.

The claim was based upon the allegation that the decedent's death, on November 3d, 1929, resulted from an accident, on April 26th, 1929, arising out of and in the course of his employment; which allegation was denied by the employer who contended that there was no accident or injury to decedent at its plant, and that his death was due to tuberculosis.

There was evidence to the effect that, when decedent returned home from his work on the night of April 26th, 1929, his right testicle was swollen and he was running a temperature; that he sent for a physician who found the condition

mentioned; that thereafter he was not "very well" but worked from time to time; that meanwhile it was ascertained that he had "tuberculosis of the chest," and he was sent to a hospital. The autopsy at the time of his death on November 3d, 1929, disclosed that he died of tuberculosis of the testicle.

In the courts below, and here, for proof of an accident in the employer's plant the petitioner relied mainly on the testimony of the attending physician that decedent told him that "he fell against the wheel in the Ford plant while he was working there."

The Supreme Court said, and we think rightly, that such testimony was clearly illegal.

The pertinent rule is that, in a workmen's compensation case, the employe's attending physician's testimony that the employe told the physician that he received injury in an accident at the employer's plant is inadmissible to establish such alleged accident, and cannot be made the basis of an award.

The general rule in this state is that statements made by an injured person to his physician for the purpose of treatment and diagnosis, such as statements relating to his symptoms and feelings, are admissible in evidence; but that statements made to the attending physician as to the cause of the injury, or as to the place wherein the injury occurred, are inadmissible ...


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