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WORKMEN’S ACCIDENT COMPENSATION ACT

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1928

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UNITED STATES SENATE,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INSURANCE AND BANKS OF THE
COMMITTEE ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,

Washington, D. C. The subcommittee on insurance and banks met, pursuant to notice, in the committee room, Capitol, at 10 o'clock a. m., Senator John J. Blaine (chairman) presiding.

Present: Senators Blaine (chairman), Sackett and Edwards.
Present also: Senator William C. Bruce, of Maryland.
Senator BLAINE. Gentlemen, it is 10 o'clock, and we will proceed.

I understand that this subject of workmen's compensation has been a matter of consideration for the last several years for the District of Columbia. I can not refrain from expressing my surprise that a workmen's compensation act has not been enacted for the District of Columbia, especially when there are those who tell us that only the Federal Government can be trusted; that the States never fulfill their duties, a doctrine, of course, to which I do not subscribe.

As proof of it I might suggest that the absence of a workmen's compensation act for the District of Columbia indicates that the Federal Government, as far as its jurisdiction is concerned over the District of Columbia, is about 20 years behind the times.

Now I would like to have noted the appearances. I presume there are four sides to this proposition, the workingmen—who represents the workmen?

Mr. WALLACE. Edgar Wallace, representing American Federation of Labor; J. R. Hood, representing the wood, wire, and metal lathers; C. G. Sipes, representing Brotherhood Painters and Decorators; J. Edward Faulconer, representing sheet metal workers; B. A. O'Leary, representing Independent Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; J. M. Botts, representing Steam Fitters' and Helpers’ Association; N. A. James, representing Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers; Agnes King, representing Women Upholsterers and Seamstresses; G. E. King, representing Bakery Salesmen, affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffers, Stablemen, and Helpers; H. S. Hollohan, representing Carpenters' Local 132; W. C. Smulcer, representing Stationary Firemen, and others.

Senator BLAINE. Another party is the employers. Will you indicate who represents that group?

Mr. EVERETT. W. W. Everett, chairman, Workmen's Compensation Committee, Board of Trade for the District of Columbia; General Stephan, representing Merchants and Manufacturers Association; Dorsey Hyde, representing Washington Chamber of Commerce

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A. A. Von Thaden, representing Chamber of Commerce of the United States; Stanley Horner, representing the Automotive Industry. I am appearing as chairman of the committee representing all employers.

Senator BLAINE. Then, I understand, the insurance companies have representatives. Will they announce their appearances, please?

Mr. JANISCH. I represent the mutual insurance interests, and my name is H. P. Janisch, Chicago, Ill.

Mr. SHERMAN. P. Tecumseh' Sherman, representing a group of stock casualty companies.

Senator BLAINE. The fourth group, which is included, is the public. Is there anyone representing the District of Columbia as such?

Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Chairman, there will be a representative of the chamber of commerce. I am vice president of the Washington Board of Trade. The president could not come this morning, so I will have to represent them. General Stephan, the head of the Merchants & Manufacturers Association, will also be here. Mr. Horner, of the Automotive Association, Mr. Phillips of the realestate board, and Mr. Von Thaden from the United States Chamber of Commerce.

There are also other associations.

Senator BLAINE. But there is no official of the District of Columbia who is here, I assume?

Mr. EVERETT. No, sir.

The CLERK. I notified the superintendent of insurance, but he is not here yet.

Senator BLAINE. Well, he may be here later.
Now, there are two bills before us, as follows:

[S. 1653, Seventieth Congress, first session]

A BILL Relating to assuring compensation for accidental injuries or death of employees

in certain occupations in the District of Columbia

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this act shall be known as the District of Columbia workmen's compensation act.

SE 2. That it shall be the duty of superintendent of insurance of the District of Columbia to administer this act in addition to the duties now imposed upon him by law and the title of said superintendent of insurance shall be changed to that of superintendent of insurance and compensation commissioner. That wherever the words “ compensation commissioner are herein referred to in this act, the words are defined to mean the superintendent of insurance and compensation commissioner of the District of Columbia.

SEC. 3. Any investigation, inquiry, or hearing which the compensation commissioner is authorized to hold or undertake may be held or undertaken by or before any deputy commissioner, and every order made by a deputy commissioner, when approved and confirmed by the compensation commissioner and so shown on his record of proceedings, shall be deemed to be the order of the compensation commissioner.

SEC. 4. The office of the compensation commissioner shall be open for the transaction of business during all business hours of each and every day, excepting Sunday and legal holidays. All hearings shall be open to the public and shall stand and be adjourned without further notice thereof on its record. All proceedings of the commissioner shall be shown on his record of proceedings. which shall be a public record, and shall contain a record of each case considered and the award made and of all remuneration paid or allowed to any employee of the commissioner or to any other person for services: Provided, however, That any person in the employ of the commissioner who shall divulge any information secured by him in respect to the transactions, property, or business of any person, firm, company or corporation, association, or joint partnership to any person other than the compensation commissioner or a deputy commissioner shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine or not less than $100 or more than $500, or imprisonment not exceeding twelve months, in the discretion of the court, and shall thereafter be disqualified from holding any appointment with the commissioner.

SEC. 5. The compensation commissioner may employ a deputy or deputies, clerks, stenographers, and other assistants, and fix their compensation subject to the written approval of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia. The commissioner shall provide necessary office furniture and supplies for the såme. Said compensation and all necessary expenses shall be audited and paid as other salaries and expenses of the District of Columbia are paid. The commissioner shall provide himself with a seal for the authentication of his orders, awards, and proceedings, upon which shall be inscribed the words “District of Columbia Compensation Commissioner-Official Seal."

The compensation commissioner and each deputy commissioner shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, take and subscribe to the constitutional oath of office.

SEC. 6. The compensation commissioner and each deputy commissioner shall, for purposes contemplated by this act, have power to issue subpænas, compel the attendance of witnesses, administer oaths, certify to official acts, compel the production of pertinent books, pay rolls, accounts, papers, records, documents, and testimony.

If a person subpænaed to attend or in attendance before the compensation commissioner or a deputy commissioner, shall, without reasonable cause, fail or refuse to attend or refuse to be examined or to answer a legal and pertinent question, or to produce a book or paper when ordered to do so by the commissioner or deputy commissioner, the commissioner may apply to any judge of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, upon proof by affidavit of the fact, for a rule or order, returnable in not less than two or more than five days, directing such person to show cause before the judge who made the order, or any other judge aforesaid, why he should not be committed to jail; upon the return of such order the judge before whom the matter and such person shall come on for a hearing shall examine under oath such person, and such person shall be given an opportunity to be heard ; and if the judge shall determine that such person has failed or refused, without reasonable cause or legal excuse, to attend or to be examined or to answer a legal or pertinent question, or to produce a book or paper which he was ordered to bring or produce, he may forthwith commit the offender to jail, there to remain until he submits to do the act which he was so required to do, or is discharged according to law.

SEC. 7. Each officer or person who serves a subpoena issued as aforesaid shall receive the same fee as the marshal would receive where said witness is subpænaed, and each witness who appears in obedience to a subpæna before the compensation commissioner or a deputy commissioner shall receive for his attendance the fees and mileage provided for witnesses in civil. cases in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, which shall be audited and paid in the same manner as other expenses hereinbefore provided for. No witness subpænaed at the instance of a party other than the compensation commissioner or deputy commissioner shall be entitled to compensation, unless the commissioner or deputy shall certify that his testimony was material to the matter investigated. In an investigation the commissioner: may cause depositions of witnesses residing within or without the District to be taken in the manner prescribed by law for like depositions taken in cases pending before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. The compensation commissioner shall have authority to appoint, by his written order, any subordinate or other person to serve subpænas, notices, and all other papers issued by and in his name.

SEC. 8. Subject to the provisions of this act, the compensation commissioner shall adopt reasonable and proper rules to govern his procedure, which procedure shall be as summary and simple as reasonably may be. He shall regulate and provide for the kind and character of notices and the service thereof, and in cases of injury by accident to employees the nature and extent of the proofs and evidence and the method of taking and furnishing the same for the establishment of the right to compensation. He shall determine the nature and forms of application of those claiming to be entitled to benefits or compensation, and shall regulate the method of making investigations, physical. examinations, and inspections, and prescribe the time within which adjudica

tions and awards shall be made: Provided, That all such rules and regulations shall conform to the provisions of this act.

Sec. 9. A transcribed copy of the evidence and proceedings, or any specific part thereof, of any investigation taken by a stenographer appointed by the compensation commissioner or a deputy commissioner, being certified and sworn to by such stenographer to be a true and correct transcript of the testimony. or of a particular witness, or of any specific part thereof, or to be a correct transcript of the proceedings had on such investigation so purporting to be taken and subscribed, may be received in evidence by the commissioner or a deputy with the same effect as if such stenographer were present and testified to the facts certified. A copy of such transcript shall be furnished on demand to any party in interest upon payment of the fee therefor, as provided by rule of the compensation commissioner.

SEC. 10. (a) The compensation commissioner shall prepare and furnish free of cost blank forms and provide for their distribution so that the same may be readily available, of application for benefits or compensation, notices to employers, proof of injury or death, of medical attendance, of employment and wage earnings, and such other blanks as may be deemed proper and advisable, and it shall be the duty of employers to constantly keep on hand a sufficient supply of such blanks.

(b) The compensation commissioner shall inquire into the causes and results of accidents to employees and study the methods of safeguarding against such accidents. He shall have such power and jurisdiction over and supervision of every employment and place of employment subject to this act as may be necessary adequately to enforce and administer all laws and regulations requiring such employment and place of employment to be safe, and shall issue safety regulations wherever necessary. The commissioner or any deputy or agent of his shall have the right to enter and inspect any place of employment subject to this act for the purpose of determining whether it be safe and whether all safety laws and regulations applicable have been obeyed. Any employer or other person who obstructs any such entry and inspection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $100 for each offense.

SEC. 11. Annually, on or before the 1st day of January, the compensation commissioner shall make a report to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, which shall include a statement of the number of awards made by him, the causes of the accidents leading to the injuries for which the awards were made, and a detailed statement of the expenses of his office, together with any other matters which the commissioner deems proper to report, including any recommendations he may desire to make.

SEC. 12. If an employee suffers personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of an employment subject to this act, his employer or insurer shall pay or provide compensation according to the schedules of this act, except where the injury is occasioned by the willful intention of the injured employee to bring about the injury or death of himself or of another, or where the injury results solely from the intoxication or the use of drugs of the injured employee while on duty. But the burden of proof that the injury was due to either of such excepted causes shall be upon the employer.

The liability prescribed by the last preceding paragraph shall be exclusive, except that if an employer fail to secure the payment of compensation for his injured employees and their dependents as provided in this act an injured employee or his legal representative, in case death results from the injury, may, at his option, elect either to claim compensation under this act or to maintain an action in the courts for damages on account of such injury; and in such an action the defendant may not plead as a defense that the injury was caused by the negligence of a fellow servant or that the employee assumed the risk of his employment, or that the injury was due to the contributory negligence of the employee.

SEC. 13. This act shall apply to all private employments, except as herein otherwise provided. It shall not apply to

(1) Any employment in commerce between the District of Columbia and any of the States, Territories, or possesions of the United States or any foreign nation or nations, in the service of a common carrier by railroad.

(2) Any employment that is casual and not in the usual course of the trade, business, occupation, or profession of the employer; also farm laborers and domestic servants.

(3) Any employment in an occupation not carried on by the employer for the sake of pecuniary gain: Provided, however, That an excluded employment may be brought under the provisions of this act by express agreement in writing between the employer and employee filed with the compensation commissioner.

SEC. 14. (a) Where an accident happens while the employee is employed elsewhere than in the District of Columbia which would entitle him or his dependents to compensation if it had happened in such District, the employee or his dependents shall be entitled to compensation, if the contract of employment was made in said District, if the employer's place of business is in said District, or if the residence of the employee is in said District: Provided. That his contract of employment was not expressly for service exclusively outside of said District.

(b) Provided, however, That if an employee shall receive compensation or damages under the law of any State or Territory other than the District of Columbia, nothing herein contained shall be construed so as to permit a total compensation for the same injury greater than is provided in this act.

SEC. 15. The rights and remedies herein granted shall exclude all other rights and remedies of such employee, his personal representative, wife, husband, parents, dependents, or next of kin, at mon law or otherwise on account of such injury, loss of service, or death, except as herein elsewhere otherwise provided.

If an employee entitled to compensation under this act be injured or killed by the negligence or wrong of another not in the same employ, such injured employee, or in case of death, his dependents, shall, before any suit or any award under this act, elect whether to take compensation under this act or to pursue his remedy against such other person. Such election shall be evidenced in such manner as the compensation commissioner may by regulation prescribe. If such injured employee, or in case of death, his dependents, elect to take compensation under this act, the awarding of compensation shall operate as an assignment of the cause of action against such other person to the employer or insurance carrier liable for the payment of such compensation ; and if he elect to proceed against such other person, the employer or insurance carrier, as the case may be, shall contribute only the deficiency, if any, between the amount of the recovery against such other person actually collected and the compensation provided or estimated by this act for such case. In case of the payment of an award to the superintendent of insurance in accordance with the provisions of section 24 such payment shall operate to give to the employer or insurance carrier who has paid the award a cause of action against such other person for the amount of such payment, together with the reasonable funeral expenses and the expense of medical treatment, which shall be in addition to any cause of action by the legal representatives of the deceased. A compromise of any such cause of action by the employee or his dependents at an amount less than the compensation provided by this act shall be made only with the written approval of the employer or the insurance carrier, as the case may be. Wherever an employee is killed by the negligence or wrong of another not in the same employ and any dependent of such employee entitled to compensation under this act is a minor, any election under the provisions of this section on behalf of such minor shall be made by such minor or by his or her parent or duly appointed guardian, as the compensation commissioner may determine in each case.

Where any employer is insured against liability for compensation with any insurance carrier, and such insurance carrier shall have paid any compensation for which the employer is liable or shall have assumed the liability of the employer therefor, it shall be subrogated to all the rights and duties of the employer, and may enforce any such rights in its own name or in the name of the injured employee or his or her personal representative: Provided, however, That nothing herein shall be construed as conferring upon insurance carriers any other or further rights than those existing in the employer at the time of the injury to his employee, anything in the policy of insurance to the contrary notwithstanding.

An employer, insurance carrier, firm, association, or corporation knowingly misappropriating any moneys collected, received, or held under the foregoing provisions of this section shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment for not exceeding five years or by fine not exceeding $5,000, or by both.

SEC. 16. (a) Where any person (in this section referred to as principal contractor) undertakes to execute any work which is a part of his trade, busi

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