What is workers’ compensation? What’s covered? What kinds of benefits are paid out? What if my claim is denied? Get answers to your common questions about workers’ compensation here.

Workers’ Compensation – An Overview

Employees in the U.S. rely on workers’ compensation when they’re injured on the job. Workers’ compensation benefits are commonly awarded for work-related injury, illness and death that occur at or as a result of work. Workers’ compensation may cover medical expenses, lost wages and benefits to survivors.

History and Origin of Workers’ Comp Law

The idea of workers’ compensation has its origins in Germany in the early 1800s. The industrial revolution saw dangerous new workplaces such as railroads, factories and mines with accompanying increases in injuries, deaths and new work-related diseases. Social and political sympathy for the common worker grew and led to the enactment of early workers’ compensation legislation.

The concept soon spread to other European nations, ultimately resulting in an 1897 British law that was the impetus for the first US workers’ compensation laws. Almost all US states had some type of workers’ compensation system by the 1920s. The federal government followed suit for most federal employees and for certain industries.

Prior to the establishment of workers’ compensation, English and American laws were inadequate to protect workers harmed in increasingly hazardous industrial jobs. Ordinary employees rarely had the financial means to bring negligence lawsuits against their employers. When they did, employers usually relied on one of three defenses, dubbed the “unholy trinity,” to defeat the claims: that another employee was actually responsible, that the injured worker had contributed negligently to the accident or that the employee had assumed the risk of injury by accepting the job.