Appeal, No. 12, March T., 1957, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, May T., 1952, No. 7, in case of Wallace Q. Blatt, Sr., v. C. C. Davis Construction Co. Judgment reversed.
Mark E. Garber, with him James D. Flower, Garber & Garber, and Myers, Myers & Flower, for appellant.
J. Boyd Landis, with him Joseph J. McIntosh, and Landis & McIntosh, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ.
[ 184 Pa. Super. Page 31]
This is an action in trespass to recover damages for personal injuries. The plaintiff, Walter Q. Blatt, Sr., was an insurance agent. While in the course of his employment on January 2, 1950 he injured his legs in a fall. He tried to continue working but was finally hospitalized in the Lewistown hospital March 15, 1950. He was receiving compensation benefits under the workmen's compensation law. The hospital where he was being treated, was being remodeled and on March 16, 1950 a beam fell on the bed striking the already injured and swollen right foot.
The plaintiff brought this action for damages against the building contractor and alleged total and complete disability as a result of the contractor's negligence. The jury brought in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, for pain and suffering alone, in the amount of $1500. The plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial and this appeal is from an order of the lower court refusing the motion.
At the trial the lower court, over the plaintiff's objection, permitted questions concerning the receipt of workmen's compensation benefits because of the injury sustained on January 2, 1950. Not only was the fact that the plaintiff had received compensation benefits, based on the prior injury, received in evidence, but the complete agreement between the plaintiff and his compensation
[ 184 Pa. Super. Page 32]
carrier, showing the terms and the amounts the plaintiff received and was to receive, was also disclosed to the jury.
We do not believe that the question of workmen's compensation benefits, whether for the period prior to the accident of March 16, the time of the hospital injury, or subsequent thereto, was material for any purpose in his claim for damages as the result of the negligence of the defendant contractor. The plaintiff has an independent right of action for any injury caused by a third party without regard to the original compensable injury. While compensation provides a certain relief to an injured person, which, from a legislative point of view, is ample, it cannot be regarded as representing total compensation. Lengle v. North Lebanon Twp., 274 Pa. 51, 117 A. 403 (1922). See also Phila. v. Phila. R.T.C., 337 Pa. 1, at page 4, 10 A.2d 434 (1939), where it was held, that sums paid to city firemen "were in the nature of disability compensation, similar to workmen's compensation payments and payments under an accident insurance policy and should be treated in the same manner. Such payments have always been disregarded in determining the amount of damages to which an injured plaintiff is entitled."
The general rule, followed by the courts of this Commonwealth, holds that reference to insurance held or being paid to an adverse party, unless falling within one of the limited exceptions to the rule, constitutes prejudice ...