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The history of workers' compensation

Workers' compensation was the governments' answer to rising litigation costs for employees and companies. Workers' compensation was invented to provide workers with a quick avenue to receive compensation for injuries and to protect companies from excessive litigation costs defending claims against them. It was conceived as a win-win scenario and has fulfilled that early promise.

Prior to workers' compensation, employees who were injured on the job had two options. First, they could negotiate with their employee directly for some compensation package. But workers are at a distinct power disadvantage with their employer. Thus, they are forced to rely entirely on the good graces of the bosses. That may work for a few companies, but it doesn't work as a general public policy. Second, they could sue their employers.

Suing the employer is a risky proposition. First, litigation could take years which means the victim could go that entire time frame without earning an income. Companies know this and often use it as a tactic against the victims. Many victims lost their homes and became destitute while their case wound its way through the court system. Furthermore, companies were discouraged from settling because it could invite more employees to file suits.

The result was a stalemate. Workers ended up losing their livelihoods and businesses spent extraordinary amounts of money putting up vigorous defenses to lawsuits. In stepped workers' compensation which created a system in which employees could receive quick payments tied to their lost wages and medical bills. But the system isn't perfect. If you were injured on the job, you might want to consider hiring a lawyer to assist you. Workers' compensation claims are subject to strict compliance rules, if you miss even one, it could serve as grounds to deny your entire claim. A lawyer can help you avoid this result.

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