- Length: 462 words (1.3 double-spaced pages)
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It shouldn't hurt to go to work. But in 1998, nearly 6 million U.S. workers were injured at work or became sick because of their jobs.
Most working Americans know that they are protected by workers' compensation laws if they are injured on the job. But many are unaware of the prominent role played by organized labor in securing these historic legal protections.
Workers' compensation laws became necessary at the turn of the century, when injured workers were faced with rising medical costs and lost time. In those days, an injured employee had to prove that the employer was at fault, due either to an unsafe workplace, lack of safe tools, failing to warn of dangers or failing to furnish adequate help. If the employer was not at fault, the employee received no compensation. Even if the employer was at fault, the injured worker still could not recover if he was partly to blame, or if he knew of the risks beforehand, or if the injury was caused by a fellow servant.
In most cases, injured workers received no compensation at all. Employees and their families faced financial ruin. And if a worker happened to overcome the legal obstacles and received money damages, the employer might be put out of business, costing other employees their jobs.
To remedy this unfairness, Labor struggled for the passage of workers' compensation laws. Labor argued that an employer could pay for work injuries by merely raising the price of its product or service by a few pennies to purchase workers' compensation insurance. In contrast, an employee bearing the cost of his own injury could become destitute. Labor's battle cry was, "the cost of the product should bear the blood of the worker."
The original model for workers' compensation legislation was a compromise between business and labor. Employees gave up their right to sue for large jury awards in exchange for more modest but certain compensation for lost time, medical bills and permanency. Employers gave up their cozy system of fault-based liability in exchange for a no-fault system, but with limits on the amount of money they would have to pay their injured employees.
Early workers' compensation laws covered only hazardous industries, such as construction, demolition and mining.
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Workers Organized Labor Employer Compensation Awards Hurt Bearing Damages Remedy Fault
In 1902, Maryland enacted the first state workers' compensation law, but it was limited to death cases. Illinois' workers' compensation law became effective May 1, 1912. By 1920, most states had some form of workers' compensation. Mississippi became the last state to pass a workers' compensation law in 1948.
Workers' compensation is legislated by every state, and the laws vary among jurisdictions but carry many of the same features. All fifty states now have workers' compensation laws. Many states have expanded their laws to include more employees and industries.
Workers? Compensation Essay
788 Words4 Pages
Workers’ compensation is meant to protect employees from loss of income and to cover extra expenses associated with job-related injuries or illness. Accidents in which the employee does not lose time from work, accidents in which the employee loses time from work, temporary partial disability, permanent partial or total disability, death, occupational diseases, noncrippling physical impairments, such as deafness, impairments suffered at employer-sanctioned events, such as social events or during travel to organization business, and injuries or disabilities attributable to an employer’s gross negligence are the types of injuries and illnesses most frequently covered by workers’ compensation laws. Since 1955,…show more content…
Medical expenses are usually covered in full under workers’ compensation laws. It is a no-fault system; all job-related injuries and illnesses are covered regardless of where the fault for the disability is placed.
Workers’ compensation coverage is compulsory in all but a few states. In these states, it is elective for the employer. When it is elective, any employers who reject the coverage also give up certain legal protections. Benefits paid are generally provided for four types of disability: permanent partial disability, permanent total disability, temporary partial disability, and temporary total disability. Before any workers’ compensation is reorganized, the disability must be shown to be work-related. This usually involves an evaluation of the claimant by an occupational physician. One major criticism of workers’ compensation involves the extent of coverage provided by different states. The amounts paid, ease of collecting, and the likelihood of collecting all vary significantly from state to state.
After a decade of yearly double-digit increases in the cost of workers’ compensation, in the early 1990s at least 35 states began to make changes in their workers’ compensation laws. These changes included tighter eligibility standards, benefit cuts, improved workplace safety, and campaigns against fraud. Recent data indicate that these changes are paying off. The rates