For the prosecutor, R.E. & A.D. Watson.
For the respondent, David T. Wilentz and James F. Patten.
Before Brogan, Chief Justice, and Justices Trenchard and Heher.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
HEHER, J. On February 19th, 1929, decedent, an employe of prosecutor, suffered injuries by an accident which arose out of and in the course of his employment. He died on January 28th, 1930, as a result, his administratrix claims, of the injuries so sustained. The deputy commissioner
awarded compensation to decedent's dependents, computed as prescribed by the statute. He also made an award for disability suffered by decedent. The judgment so rendered was affirmed in the Middlesex Common Pleas. This certiorari brings up the latter judgment.
The first insistence of prosecutor is that it did not have actual knowledge of the occurrence of the claimed injury, or notice thereof, within the time required by paragraph 15 of section 2 of the Workmen's Compensation act (Pamph. L. 1911, pp. 134, 140), and that, therefore, no recovery of compensation can be had under the act.
This claim is not well founded. Concededly, decedent, on the day mentioned, suffered an injury which entitled him to compensation under the provisions of the act referred to. He sustained a hernia. He continued to "report for work almost daily" until March 6th, 1929. Apparently, at this time, he became incapacitated, and made claim for compensation. There was an informal hearing in the compensation bureau, and prosecutor agreed to pay decedent compensation for a period of twenty weeks from March 6th, 1929. Compensation was paid for this period, with the exception of the last four weeks, which decedent declined to accept. On October 5th, 1929, a petition for compensation was filed with the compensation bureau, in decedent's behalf, in which it was claimed that he suffered his injuries as a result of the falling of a barrel. The petition alleged that, while he was engaged in lifting the barrel, "it fell, striking him and knocking him unconscious, causing hernia," and that there ensued "permanent disability consisting of brain injury, causing insanity."
Prosecutor maintains that, while it had notice of the accident on the day of its occurrence, its "knowledge was limited to an accident resulting in a claim for hernia, and not one causing insanity." But there was testimony, which we regard as entirely credible, that decedent's widow, in the month of April, 1929, informed prosecutor's safety employment supervisor, who delivered the compensation checks and was apparently in charge of the matter for his employer, and
also the company's general superintendent, that symptoms of brain trouble had been observed. She said that she conveyed this information to prosecutor's agents as soon as one of decedent's physicians informed her of the existence of this condition. This was a timely notice. Paragraph 15 of section 2 of the act provides that if the notice is given, or the knowledge obtained, within ninety days after the occurrence of the injury, and the employe, or other beneficiary, shall show that his failure to give prior notice was due to his mistake, inadvertence, ignorance of fact or law, or inability, or to the fraud, misrepresentation or deceit of another person, or to any other reasonable cause or excuse, compensation may be allowed, unless, and then to the extent only that, the employer shall show that he was prejudiced by failure to receive such notice. ...