What's the History of Workers' Compensation?

Representing Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Nearby Areas of Florida

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Injured worker meets with Orlando attorney about workers compensation Workers' rights have been a centuries-long journey. The legal security and safety measures employees have today evolved from the 1800s. Workplace injuries were once the physical and financial responsibility of the worker. Through a series of laws, protests, and vigor, workers' injury claims are now guaranteed prompt and fair benefits. 

Workers' compensation was created to ensure employees injured on the job or who suffered sickness or illness due to services rendered received monetary benefits. Heavy machinery use, new production outlets, and product demand during the industrial revolution established the need for a fair workers' compensation system. Those factors led to a higher prevalence of workplace injuries. 

Injured employees or employers had no available solutions, which led to time-consuming, costly legal battles, and overcrowded courtrooms. These lawsuits often had long delays due to the high volume of cases with no guarantees of compensation. Many injured employees during the industrial revolution had no choice but to cover the expenses of their injury themselves, which left some on welfare. 

The Rise of Workers' Compensation 

Workers' rights and compensation first started in the 1800s in Europe. An 1838 law passed in Germany protected the rights of railroad passengers and employees injured in a railroad accident. "Workingmen's" compensation came to England when the English Parliament passed the "Employer's Liability Act." Canada and the United States had workers compensation legislation by the turn of the century. These laws focused on providing injured employees with benefits that were fair, prompt, and guaranteed. 

Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, these laws helped workers who were injured on the job receive money for medical costs and disability. They also listed a specific amount of benefits for injured employees, which mitigated the potentially disastrous losses for employers. Workers' compensation legislation prohibited workers from filing a lawsuit against their employer and required the employer to pay the stated amount of benefits, offering a solution to the growing need for established workers' rights.  

The Road to Florida's Workers' Compensation Legislation 

Historically, our Sunshine State has had a small workforce, so workers' compensation legislation took longer than most. Florida had virtually no manufacturing companies until the Great Depression. The established companies reported no significant problems, but the State of Florida wanted to attract more jobs and workers to the warm, economic climate. After an aggressive campaign, the workforce numbers rose rapidly. 

Florida passed a "workmen's" compensation law in July 1935. The Florida Industrial Commission was also created with the new act. Within the first year, the Florida workers' comp law was enacted, there were 10,977 cases—2,983 of which were in Dade County and 1,985 in Duval County. The total benefits paid were more than $290,000. Over 40,000 cases were handled by the Florida Industrial Commission in the two years following the passing of the act, providing nearly a billion dollars in benefits to injured employees. 

Contact Our Workers' Comp Lawyers in Orlando 

Our lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter specialize in workers' compensation and can help you through the claims process to make sure you're given the full benefits you deserve for your injuries. 

If you've suffered an injury on the job in Florida, contact our Orlando firm today at (407) 712-7300 to schedule your FREE workers' comp consultation. We provide experienced legal services to clients throughout Florida and nationwide.