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October 07, 2015

The History of Workers’ Compensation

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Posted in General

When and where did Worker’s Compensation laws first pass in the United States?

The first state-based Workers’ Compensation laws were passed in 1911. Wisconsin was the nation’s first state to pass a Worker’s Comp statute.

It was the Industrial Revolution that made it necessary to change the way injuries were compensated in the workplace in the United States. Massachusetts, Washington, and several other states continued to pass Worker’s Comp laws after Wisconsin.

Before the U.S. laws

It is believed that compensation for a worker’s injury dates back to approximately 2050 B.C. in ancient Sumeria (now Iraq). Ancient Greece, Rome, and China also had similar systems in place. Specific injuries were rewarded specific compensation.

The loss of function of a specific body part, known as “impairment,” and the loss of ability to perform specific tasks, known as “disability,” are concepts that began thousands of years ago, and are still with us today.

It was in Prussia in 1871, that the Employer’s Liability Law was created by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Then, in 1884, he established Workers’ Accident Insurance Law, which provided compensation, as well as medical and rehabilitation benefits to workers. These laws became the basis for the current workers’ compensation system.

Why the laws are important

Worker’s Compensation laws are in place to protect employees against loss of income, and to assist with medical payments because of work-related injuries and accidents.

If you have questions or concerns about the laws in place to protect workers in Wisconsin, please contact our office today!


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