Samuel v. Appleton Co.

Decision Date26 January 1949
Docket Number16174.
Citation51 S.E.2d 508,214 S.C. 157
PartiesSAMUEL v. APPLETON CO. et al.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

R L. Ballentine and Leon W. Harris, both of Anderson, for appellant.

Stephen Nettles, of Greenville, for respondents.

OXNER Justice.

This is a proceeding under the Workmen's Compensation Act and the only question which we need determine is whether the claim is barred by the following limitation contained in Section 7035-27 of the Code of 1942: 'The right to compensation under this article shall be forever barred unless a claim is filed with the Industrial Commission within one year after the accident, * * *'.

Claimant contends that on January 11, 1946, while pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with coal up a cement gangway which was wet, he slipped and fell. He was immediately taken to the hospital where he was found to be in a semi-conscious condition. His blood pressure was very high and his face and right side were paralyzed. The diagnosis was 'cerebral hemorrhage and paralysis'. After remaining in the hospital for several days, claimant was carried home to convalesce. He never returned to work. The testimony offered by him tended to show that his condition was caused by the fall, while that of the employer and carrier was to the effect that he fell as the result of a stroke.

An investigator for the carrier testified that she went to the claimant's home on February 5, 1946 for the purpose of determining the cause of his disability and after talking to him, wrote out the substance of what he had told her. According to her testimony, this statement was read over to claimant who then signed it by making his mark in the presence of a witness. In this statement the claimant gave the following version of the occurrence of January 11th 'I did not feel sick at all when I went to work at seven o'clock that morning and I was doing my work and felt fine until suddenly I just turned sick and my right leg started giving away, and I just sat down.' Claimant denied making this statement and, in fact, contended that this investigator had never called at his home.

Thereafter on February 7, 1946, the district claim manager of the carrier wrote a letter to the Industrial Commission stating that the carrier was of the opinion that claimant did not sustain an injury by accident and, therefore, denied liability. On February 11, 1946, the Industrial Commission mailed to claimant a letter known as Form A, informing him that the carrier had denied liability and further stating 'For your information we are enclosing copy of the Commission's Bulletin which explains the facts and circumstances under which compensation is payable. Please read this carefully and if you decide you are entitled to compensation, it is your privilege to write the Industrial Commission asking for a form, Request that Claim be Assigned for a Hearing. * * *'

Claimant denied receiving the above letter, although the Secretary of the Commission certified that the envelope contained a proper return address and, according to the records of the Commission, the letter had never been returned. The first indication that claimant intended to claim compensation was on March 29, 1947, nearly fifteen months after the alleged accident, when he wrote the Industrial Commission stating that he sustained an accident at the mill on January 11th for which he was entitled to be compensated. Claimant testified that he knew nothing of his right to compensation until a friend discussed the matter with him shortly before he wrote the letter of March 29th.

The Industrial Commission found that the claimant sustained an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment and awarded him compensation. The Commission held that the employer failed to post and keep posted the notice required by Rule 7 which was 'tantamount to fraud upon the claimant, whether intentional or unintentional on the part of' the employer, and that under these circumstances the employer and carrier were not entitled to claim the benefit of the one year...

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