A Brief History of Workers’ Compensation

by Cary Graham | January 19th, 2016

Workers’ compensation is an idea that began more than 4,000 years ago. A stone tablet recovered from ancient Sumeria details the Law of Ur, which provided for monetary compensation for injured workers. Many other ancient societies had precise standards for compensating workers. The extent of that compensation depended on the body part. For example, Arab law specified the value of a finger down to each joint.

U.S. based workers’ compensation began springing up in the early 1900s on a state level. Initially, the Federal government was reluctant to mandate any standard on a national level, other than a 1908 program designed to cover federal workers. By 1921, only six states had yet to adopt some kind of worker protection program.

Today, all workers’ compensation programs are still state run. In 1972, the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws set forth 19 essential recommendations for every state to adhere to. However, without the necessary political backing, there’s very little the Federal government can do to enforce these standards.

Before workers’ compensation laws were enacted, injured workers had to prove the negligence of their employers in a lengthy and costly process, with no certainty they would receive compensation for their injuries. Employers could use a number of tactics to skirt their responsibility to the worker. Some of those tactics are still used today, which is why you should speak with an attorney if you’ve been injured at work.

An experienced Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy can investigate the circumstances behind your accident and work to hold those responsible accountable. If you’ve been injured on the job, give us a call today.