It isn't difficult to find issues with the current workers' compensation system. Many injured workers find themselves facing an uphill battle to receive compensation to which they are entitled while fraudsters receive milk the system for benefits. Like any other system, workers' compensation is flawed, however it is important to remember just how fortunate we are to have a system in place to provide for injured workers.
This year marks the centennial celebration of workers' compensation, with 100 years of history to look back on. While no one will argue that improvements could be made, we must not take for granted the benefits that are available due to workers' compensation laws.
If we were to imagine a life without workers' compensation, regardless of the flaws in the system, it would be a much different work environment. Workers' compensation insurance premiums are paid by employers who risk higher premiums when workers are injured and file a claim. Although this does not always result in safer work conditions, as a general rule the environment in which we work is much safer as a result of workers' compensation laws.
In addition, without a system in place which provides workers with an option for medical benefits and compensation for lost wages, many families would be financially devastated if the main income earner were injured or disabled as a result of an accident at work.
Prior to workers' compensation laws, injured workers either received no compensation or were forced to seek compensation from their employer, often through the court. These precedings rarely ended in favor of the injured worker, leaving the employer off the hook for compensation due to injuries suffered at work.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the workers' compensation system, we can all look back and see how far we have come in the last century. Much work must still be done to improve the system, however today's workers can be thankful there is a system in place which looks out for the safety and well being of employees.