The 100th anniversary of the workers’ compensation system (as we know it) is celebrated in 2011. This is a timely milestone as many states consider reforms which threaten to reduce employee benefits which many have come to take for granted. Critics of modern day workers’ compensation are reminded that a flawed system is better than no system at all.
Most American workers are entitled to workers’ compensation if they are injured on the job. With a few exceptions, the majority of employees across the nation know that if they are hurt and unable to work, there is a system to fall back on which will provide coverage for medical expenses and lost wages. These benefits are often taken for granted, which may result in the loss of benefits.
Before workers’ compensation was available to workers, an employee injured at work would have to sue their employer for compensation. The courts made the final decision and in most cases the worker walked away with nothing. When you look at the benefits available today, it becomes clear we have come a long way in 100 years.
This is why it is so important for American workers to pay attention to many of the proposed workers’ compensation reforms being considered today. Is it possible we could resort to pre-workers’ compensation treatment? Unlikely, however it is possible for the cost of benefits to be shifted from the workers’ compensation system to that of employees and taxpayers. Despite the many issues plaguing workers’ compensation, the system does provide for injured workers. That is what it was designed for and what is should continue to do, as long as reforms do not strip away the benefits granted to workers 100 years ago.