What is workers’ compensation?

Workers' Compensation is an area of law dealing with situations in which an employee has been injured while working in their job either through a traumatic event such as a car accident or fall, or through what is termed "occupational disease" which typically involves a situation where repetitive work has caused the worker to suffer injury, or the worker has been exposed to a toxic or harmful substance in the course of their employment.

Workers' compensation law was created to deal with work accidents. It created a sort of trade-off between labor and business. However, this so-called "trade-off" has come to favor the employer more and more over the years. Many cases went to trial in civil courts (rather than the Divisions of Workers' Compensation) in the early 20th century in which injured or deceased workers' families were not compensated at all. The workers' compensation laws were meant to compensate workers' while providing a simpler and more predictable system in terms of the legal framework that would apply. This effort to makes things simpler has gone haywire. The workers' compensation legal system is not an easy one! The laws allow monetary compensation for workers' with permanent injuries, but does not allow money for pain and suffering or punitive damages (which are intended to punish a wrongdoer). It allows, under certain circumstances, payments to injured workers who are off work while recovering from their injuries, but does not allow them to recover their entire lost wages. The system allows for the provision of medical treatment, but the employer or its' insurance company generally has the right to control and direct where that medical treatment is provided. These basic benefits are described in more detail herein.