Freund, Donges and Proctor. The opinion of the court was delivered by Proctor, J.s.c.
Defendant appeals from a determination of the Disability Insurance Service, Division of Employment Security of the Department of Labor and Industry, allowing temporary disability benefits under a private insurance plan as authorized by P.L. 1948, c. 110, p. 590, § 8; as am. P.L. 1950, c. 173, p. 393, § 2 (R.S. 43:21-32, N.J.S.A.).
The sole issue is whether plaintiff is entitled to the benefits provided by the statute for the period during which she was under the care of a chiropractor.
The defendant employer had its employees covered under a private plan of insurance as authorized by the statute. On June 22, 1950, plaintiff was unable to continue her duties and had to leave her work as a "looper" in defendant's hosiery mill, because she could not raise her left arm and was suffering pain. Her physical condition caused her to remain
away from work until September 25, 1950. It is conceded that plaintiff was not entitled to any benefits prior to July 14, 1950, because of the waiting period and her receipt of vacation pay. During the latter part of June and the month of July, plaintiff was treated by a legally licensed chiropractor, Dr. Barbour. Commencing August 1, 1950, plaintiff was under the care of Dr. Brooks, a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery, and plaintiff's right to benefits after that date is not in dispute.
The Temporary Disability Benefits Law (P.L. 1948, c. 110 p. 586 (R.S. 43:21-25 et seq., N.J.S.A.)) provides that no benefits shall be payable "for any period during which a claimant is not under the care of a legally licensed physician." R.S. 43:21-39 (b), N.J.S.A. The pertinent provision of the insurance policy covering the defendant employer's private plan contains an identical provision.
The hearing officer concluded that a duly licensed chiropractor is a legally licensed physician within the meaning of the statute when his treatment does not exceed the scope of his license. He found, under the proofs, that the treatment of plaintiff by the chiropractor was within such scope and awarded benefits for the period commencing July 14, 1950, and ending September 25, 1950.
Defendant employer contends that plaintiff was not "under the care of legally licensed physician" while she was being treated by the chiropractor and, therefore, was not entitled to the benefits under the statute during this period, viz. , July 14, 1950, to August 1, 1950.
The proofs before us disclose nothing to contradict the hearing officer's finding that the treatment of plaintiff by the chiropractor was within the scope of his license.
The Temporary Disability Benefits Law provides that it shall be liberally construed as remedial legislation. The declared policy of the law is to protect employees from hardship and suffering caused by involuntary unemployment due to inability to work by reason of non-occupational sickness or accident. P.L. 1948, c. 110, p. 586, § 2 (R.S. 43:21-26,
N.J.S.A.); see Bogda v. Chevrolet-Bloomfield Div., G.M. Corp. , 8 N.J. Super. 172 (App. Div. 1950). There is no dispute that plaintiff's physical condition resulted in her total inability to perform the duties of her employment during the period in question. ...