Why Was Workers’ Compensation Introduced?
Workers’ compensation is a vital mainstay in all American workplaces. This ancient law dates back to 2050 B.C. During this period, compensation for an employee’s injury was outlined in specific body parts. A broken thumb would be compensated half the worth of a finger. However, as the Industrial Revolution rose, the rate of injuries was colossal. The injured employees seldom received compensation from the companies they worked for and had to seek help from the courts through their work comp lawyer.
Still, the legal basis responsible for compensating injured workers was very restrictive. Some principles were so embedded that they were referred to as “the unholy trinity.” If an employer could ascertain any of these principles to be factual about the worker’s injury, the employee could not claim any compensation whatsoever.
The common law that was used to determine what injuries were compensable
I. Contributory negligence
If an employee caused their own injury, the employer could not be held liable, regardless of how dangerous the work environment or machinery was. Hence, if an employee tripped and broke a hand, the employee could not claim a farthing.
II. The coworker rule
If an injury was due to the mistakes of another employee, the employer could not be held liable.
III. Prior knowledge of risks involved in the industry
Most industries relinquished workers’ right to sue in case of injuries upon employment by having them sign a contract that they accept the perils of their work. These contract documents were referred to as “death contracts.”
These were dark times especially for industrial workers in America. Fortunately, in 1871, Otto Von Bismarck executed the Employers Liability Act, which ushered in the beginning of fair and just compensations.
Workers’ Compensation in America
Sinclair’s shocking novel popularly known as “The Jungle,” detailed the horrors labors experienced in Chicago-based Slaughterhouses. This stirred enough public outrage that accelerated the enactment of the compensation law in America. In the year 1906 and the year 1908, Employers’ Liability Act was passed. This law made influential negligence principles less restrictive, making it easy for workers compensation lawyers to fight for their clients’ compensation rights.
However, not all states were able to pass the workers’ compensation act immediately. For instance, Wisconsin was the first to pass the all-inclusive employees’ compensation law in 1911. In 1948, the last state in America to embrace this law was Mississippi.
The Workers’ Compensation Act
The workers’ compensation act called for companies to offer their injured workers medical and wage emergency benefits. If an employee accepted these welfares, they surrendered their right and ability to sue their employer.
In case an injured worker is not offered the medical or wage replacement welfare, they can sue the company. To sail through the entire process smoothly, they usually hire a work comp lawyer to help them get compensation. For more information see: http://www.workerscompensationlawyer-philadelphia.com/
Workers’ compensation is necessary to safeguard workers from endangering their safety, health, and job position. Even though different states have different worker’s compensation laws, there are core elements that ensure the injured, sick, or disabled employee is provided a fixed monetary compensation to see them through the difficult recovery and adjustment period.