For the petitioner-respondent, David Roskein (Harry Cohn, of counsel).
For the respondent-prosecutor, Elias G. Willman and Norman N. Popper.
Before Brogan, Chief Justice, and Justices Bodine and Colie.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
BROGAN, CHIEF JUSTICE. The Workmen's Compensation Bureau in a death case awarded compensation to the widow of the deceased employee. The happening, after which death resulted, occurred in the State of New York and there being no review by appeal to the Court of Common Pleas (see R.S. 34:15-66; Burdick v. Liberty Motors Freight Lines, 128 N.J.L. 229), certiorari was allowed.
The decedent had been in the employ of the respondent as a truck driver for about two and a half years. On Friday, October 24th, 1941, the decedent was engaged in his usual work of collecting bones and fat from a meat market in New
York. While he and his helper were thus engaged, loading the truck at the rear end, the wind, it is said, blew the door of the truck to and the decedent was struck on the head. The evidence indicates that he wasn't able to do his usual work for the rest of the day except to assist his helper when necessary. He complained of headache. The next day he undertook his duties, the helper, however, doing most of the work. At the end of the day the helper left the employ of the respondent. On Monday the decedent performed his duties single-handed, although the testimony shows that at several places on his list he required help in loading the truck. That evening he reported to the foreman that he didn't feel well and would like to go home early which he did. The following morning, at home, a sudden seizure caused him to fall. The family physician was called, who ordered him to the hospital at once. He died on November 6th.
There are three questions in the case -- first, whether the decedent suffered an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of his employment; second, whether the accident was the cause of the injury from which decedent died; third, in the absence of the statutory notice prescribed by R.S. 34:15-18 (which concededly was not given) whether the employer had actual knowledge of the occurrence of the injury sufficient to make it answerable for compensation. The Bureau determined all three questions in favor of the petitioner. For present purposes we may assume that the Bureau was correct in its determination of the first two questions; but with regard to the third we consider that the Bureau fell into error which requires a reversal of its judgment. It is necessary to refer to the testimony for a proper understanding of the question under review.
One of the medical witnesses, Dr. Weinberg, had been an interne at the Beth Israel Hospital in Newark when the employee was admitted to that institution. He testified that he saw the patient, Korman, daily from the time of his admission to the hospital, October 28th, 1941, until he died; that the patient was comatose during that interval; that Dr. Weinstein, the family physician who recommended hospitalization, had advised that the patient was suffering from diabetic
coma; that the witness himself diagnosed the case as sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, early uremia and essential hypertension; that what little collateral history of the patient he obtained from ...