Workers' Compensation Changes Through Time

Why Workers’ Compensation Became Necessary

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution came horrific industrial accidents in the workplace. Theodore Roosevelt felt it a “…bitter injustice that it should be the wage-worker, his wife, and children that bear the whole penalty” when a worker is injured on the job. Workers’ compensation was born as a way for injured workers to receive financial support for wages lost and medical bills until they are able to return to work. In exchange for this security, workers waived their right to sue employers, which protected private businesses from crippling lawsuits.

Workers’ comp differs slightly state-by-state, but the overall aim is to answer four key questions:

  • Is an injury work-related?
  • What is the appropriate medical care for the injury?
  • How much compensation does the injury warrant?
  • How long a recovery period does the worker need?

Workers’ Compensation Reassessed in 1970s

As part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), Congress established a commission to research state laws. The commission unanimously declared that state laws were “inadequate and inequitable”, calling for a list of revisions.

The modern Workers’ Compensation system was born out of OSHA’s list of recommendations:

  • Virtually every employee should be covered
  • Workers should pick their own doctor
  • If employee cannot work, they should receive two-thirds of their wages up to a minimum of the average wage of that state
  • Workers’ compensation benefits are to continue as long as the worker is unable to work, with no arbitrary gaps in coverage
  • Spouses receive death benefits until they remarry
  • Children receive benefits until they graduate college

State Workers’ Compensation Benefits No Longer Being Monitored

In 1972, Congress was advised by the commission to mandate 19 recommendations as minimum standards of federal law if individual states did not do so on their own accord. All states did so, but things have changed over time. As the political landscape changed, cutbacks were enacted in waves during the 1990s and into the early 2000s. The U.S. Labor Department discontinued their monitoring of individual states’ laws in 2004 due to budget cuts.

Today, only 7 states follow 15 of the original 19 mandatory recommendations. Even more troubling is the fact that less than half of the original 19 recommendations are followed by 4 states. These recent developments do not bode well for injured workers seeking compensation.

PA Injury Lawyers for Workers’ Compensation & Disability Claims

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, your options may include receiving financial benefits while you're recovering. These benefits can pay for your medical bills and keep you afloat until you have healed properly. However, filing claims is not black-and-white. Workers’ compensation is a very complex process—any misstep can delay your claim or result in denial.

Don’t give up. We can help you file an appeal to get the benefits you need. Handler, Henning & Rosenberg serves workers from offices throughout Pennsylvania. If you are hurt and cannot come to us, we will come to you in the hospital or at your home. Call (888) 498-3023 for a FREE review of your case to get straightforward answers.


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