Frank R. Ambler, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Alexander F. Barbieri, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Before Hirt, Acting P. J., and Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, Jj.
[ 176 Pa. Super. Page 178]
Claimant, widow of William R. Hodgdon, filed a petition for workmen's compensation for the death of her husband caused by a heart attack in an automobile accident on January 15, 1947. An answer was filed denying the allegations in the claim petition. After a hearing the referee denied compensation and dismissed the petition. After further hearings, following remand of the case by the Board for the purpose of allowing the presentation of additional evidence, the referee again disallowed compensation, finding that the 'death of the decedent was the result of natural causes and not related to any accidental injury sustained by him while in the course of his employment with the defendant.' Substituting its own findings for those of the referee pertaining to the issue of causal connection, the Board reversed the referee, finding as a fact that 'The shock of the collision of the said automobile at the intersection of Girard Avenue and Eleventh Street in Philadelphia was the accelerating and precipitating
[ 176 Pa. Super. Page 179]
cause of the decedent's death.' The court below affirmed the award of the Board and the employer and its carrier have appealed.
The facts disclose that Hodgdon was a salesman and had been in the employ of the Kerr Salt Company for almost thirty years. His work as a salesman involved no laborious duties, consisting only in calling on customers to obtain orders. On January 15, 1947 at about 5:00 p. m. Hodgdon was driving an automobile provided by his employer in an easterly direction on Girard Avenue in Philadelphia when he collided with an automobile which was proceeding north on Eleventh Street. After the accident Hodgdon was found slumped over on the seat of the car he was driving. He was taken to St. Luke's Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The death certificate gave the cause of death as 'arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, coronary arteriosclerosis and insufficiency while driving auto, collided with auto.' The only evidence of external injury noted in the autopsy report was a small superficial abrasion of the skin on the left side of the forehead. At the time of his death Hodgdon was sixty-three years old. From 1941 until his death, on January 15, 1947, he was under the care of Dr. Walter A. Graham for arteriosclerotic heart disease but he never lost time from work.
The sole issue in this case is whether causal connection between the accident and deceased's death was established. Dr. Walter A. Graham, decedent's family physician, who had ten years of specialized and hospital experience with heart diseases, clearly established causation with the following testimony:
'A. I believe that the accident undoubtedly was the contributing cause of his death.
'Q. Contributing cause? A. The man of course had heart disease and an accident of that type could have ...