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Bates v. Asbury Iron and Bridge Works Inc.

Decided: August 9, 1943.


On certiorari.

For the prosecutor, George E. Meredith.

For the respondent, David Roskein (Harry Cohn, of counsel).

Before Justices Parker, Heher and Perskie.


The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. The basic question for decision on the facts of this workman's compensation case, is whether the employer's insurance carrier was properly deprived of the defense of the statute of limitations under the applicable provisions of the Accident Report Act of Pamph. L. 1924, ch. 187, p. 401, ยง 6.

On April 14th, 1930, Alfred Bates, 32 years of age and single, was employed, as an iron worker, by the Asbury Bridge and Iron Works, Inc., Neptune, New Jersey, at the weekly wage of $27.50. While so employed, he suffered an accident which concededly arose out of and in the course of his employment. His work, at the time, consisted of adding steel girders to a like pile of girders lying on a road. In order to do that work he was obliged to and did "walk on top of the girder straddle legged." While in that position, he "dropped" a smaller girder onto a larger one and as a result thereof "other girders rolled out pinning [his] legs" from his hips down. It made him "solid from his hips," he "could not bend." After being extricated from that position, he was given a stimulant and was immediately taken to this employer's physician (Dr. Wilbur) who administered emergency treatment and sent him home where he was confined to bed for approximately "six weeks." During that period he was visited by the "owner" of the company for whom he worked. After this six week period, he continued to be treated by Dr. Wilbur both at home and in the doctor's office for about "three months." For six months thereafter, he continued the application of an electric pad to his back. These treatments afforded no relief so he submitted to the treatment prescribed by a Dr. Moffett for about "fourteen months." Thereafter, he commenced a series of treatments at the New York Orthopaedic Hospital which continued at intervals for "about three years." During this period he submitted to three operations in the lumbar section of his spine, one of which required hospitalization for "twelve weeks" and each of the other two operations caused him to be confined to bed for "six weeks." Following these operations, he entered the Beth Israel Hospital at Newark, New Jersey, where a

fourth operation (Albee fusion) was performed on his spine requiring his stay in that hospital for "six weeks." Thereafter, he wore a cast which when removed required him to wear -- as he did -- a brace. He subsequently received medical treatment at the hands of the New Jersey Rehabilitation Commission. Intermittently throughout his efforts to effect a cure he did some work of a "light nature." The only money he received for the injuries which he sustained was the compensation he received from his employer's insurance carrier. This compensation was for temporary disability and covered a period of ten weeks at the rate of $18.83 a week or a total of $188.30. That the employer and its insurance carrier had knowledge of the accident and the resulting injury or disability beyond the waiting period is clear. We so find.

On November 14th, 1940, more than ten years after the date of the accident, Bates filed a claim petition for compensation with our Workmen's Compensation Bureau. It was served on December 4th, 1940. The employer's insurance carrier moved to dismiss the petition on the ground that the Bureau was without jurisdiction since the petition was not filed, as it allegedly should have been, within the time provided in the then effective act, namely, "within one year after the date on which the accident occurred." Pamph. L. 1919, ch. 93, p. 201, P23, sub. (h) (see amend. Pamph. L. 1931, ch. 280, p. 708). The motion was granted; a rule was entered accordingly on October 20th, 1942. Thereafter, on November 18th, 1942, the same deputy commissioner who granted the rule and dismissed the claim petition set aside and reinstated the cause to the trial calendar of the Bureau on the ground that the order of October 20th, 1942, was improvidently entered. To review the last stated action, a writ of certiorari was allowed

the insurance carrier. Cf. Licker v. J.G. Martin Box Co., 127 N.J.L. 136, 138, 139; 31 A.2d 595.

We think that the challenged action of the deputy commissioner was proper. The employer's insurance carrier, as we have seen, resisted the employee's right to compensation. At the time of the accident (April 14th, 1930) Pamph. L. 1924, ch. 187, p. 401, supra, was in effect. By this act (section 3) the insurance carrier was obliged to make, on form prescribed, certain reports as therein provided, and send same to the ...

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