For the prosecutor, John C. Stockel (J. Emil Walscheid, of counsel).
For the respondent, John E. Toolan and James P. Haney.
Before Justices Trenchard, Parker and Perskie.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
PERSKIE, J. The question we are required to decide, in this workmen's compensation case, is whether prosecutor -- the employer -- had notice of the injury sustained by the respondent -- the employe.
Respondent was employed as a packer and shipping clerk in prosecutor's plant in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. While at work (carting spools) on July 29th, 1935 (the original petition states the date to be August 22d, 1935, but on application was amended) he struck his head "on a beam." After he struck his head "across [his] temple," "everything got black." When his sight returned, he finished the particular work on hand. He continued to feel as though there was "something in his left eye;" he wiped it "a few times;" he went to the first aid room where prosecutor provided a physician, and "told him about it." The doctor examined respondent and removed "a foreign body from his left eye" and then told him to go home. Respondent employed the ordinary household remedy; he washed his eyes with a boric acid solution. This treatment effected no improvement; but respondent continued to work. While so working he was asked by prosecutor's physician, on two occasions, "how he was" and each time the reply was "about the same." But prosecutor's physician did nothing further about it.
Later, on September 11th, 1935, after the treatment employed, as indicated, failed to help, respondent consulted an eye specialist who advised an operation. Finally, between March 28th, 1936, and October 10th, 1936, respondent submitted to three operations, but none effected a substantial cure.
The deputy commissioner in the Workmen's Compensation Bureau found that respondent had suffered an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment; that prosecutor received notice or had knowledge of the injury as provided in R.S. 34:15-17; that respondent was industrially blind (as a result of retinal detachment in both eyes) and thus entitled to permanent and total disability payments.
Prosecutor appealed to the Middlesex County Court of Common Pleas where the judgment of the bureau was affirmed. The cause is now before us upon a return of a writ of certiorari to review the determination by the Pleas.
As already indicated, prosecutor now argues that it had no actual knowledge of the occurrence of the injury pursuant to statute. R.S. 34:15-17 provides:
"Notification of Employer. Unless the employer shall have actual knowledge of the occurrence of the injury, or unless employe, on his behalf, or some of the dependents, or some one on their behalf, shall give notice to the employer within fourteen days of the occurrence of the injury, then no compensation shall be due until such notice is given or knowledge obtained * * * unless knowledge be obtained or notice given within ninety days after the occurrence of the injury, no compensation shall be allowed."
R.S. 34:15-18 provides the form of notice, directs the manner of service; it further provides that "no variation from this [prescribed] form shall be material if the notice is sufficient to advise the employer that a certain employe, by name, received an injury in the course of his employment on or about a specified time, at or near a certain place. Notice served at the office of, or on the person who was the employe's immediate superior shall be a compliance with this article."
Respondent concedes that the statutory notice was not given. His claim is that prosecutor did in fact have notice through its own plant physician, and, that such knowledge meets all the requirements ...