Accidents happen. All humans know that life comes with some inherent risk. But what about being injured at work? Certain jobs, (such as construction and the railroad) are inherently more dangerous than others. What happens when you get injured at work? Thankfully, the United States has passed workers’ compensation laws, making workers’ comp compulsory for all employers. What does this mean for you?


In the United States, workers’ compensation has been around since the turn of the 20th century. The model that the United States follows actually goes back to Otto von Bismark, the Prussian Chancellor, who passed Sickness and Accident Laws to appease his Marxist rivals who were worried about the welfare of the common man. The first acts in the US that were passed were in 1855, in Georgia and Alabama. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Federal Employer Liability Act for those that worked on the nation’s railroads.

Prior to these laws, workers had to have proof that their injuries were caused by negligence of their employers. This was a long and difficult process, often costing more heartache and money than the workers could afford. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire tragedy in New York City convinced the nation that reform was needed and led to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. By 1950, every state in the Union had passed workers’ compensation laws. However, according to Insurance Journal, workers’ compensation did not become compulsory until after the Supreme Court ruled in New York Central Railroad Co. v. White that it was constitutional to upheld compulsory insurance requirements.

What It Covers

Workers’ comp today functions much like disability insurance. It covers injuries that are obtained while in the service of your employer and is paid directly by the employer. According to Bruscato Law, the injuries commonly covered by workers’ comp are slips, trips, falls, strain injuries, injuries caused by being struck by, work related car injuries, workers being caught under something, cuts, punctures, scrapes, burns, scalds, and other miscellaneous injuries that occur on a job site during the course of your duties. While workers’ comp doesn’t cover everything, it is reassuring to know that your employers are mandated by law to take care of their workers.

The Importance Of It

Workers’ compensation is incredibly important. Because of the great struggles that workers went through in the past, without safety regulations and without being compensated by their employers, today workers can work knowing that they are going to be taken care of, even if they are injured on the job. According to the Social Security Administration, workers’ comp covers approximately 94% of all employees in the United States today and is paid for by each state, and there are many jobs that have their own compensation run by the federal government (such as the Federal Black Lung Program for coal miners).

However, you do have to act quickly to get coverage. While it may take a lot of paperwork to fill out, if you don’t act quickly to fill out the form, you could be denied your claim.

Can You Work While On Workers’ Comp?

Unless your doctor has specifically told you that you are not allowed to work, you can work while on workers’ compensation. If your doctor puts you under limitations, and your employer has work that you can do with those limitations, you should still be able to work. Otherwise you’ll probably need to stay home.

How Do You Receive Workers’ Comp?

If you are injured on the job, you should file for workers’ comp as soon as you can. You will need to fill out a report and include the date, time, and circumstances of the injury. Your employer will need to obtain important information (which varies from state to state) and then they will call their insurance company as soon as it is possible. Some states have a window of opportunity in which the employer must call for the employee to receive workers’ comp.

In short, workers’ comp exists so that workers will still be able to provide for themselves even if their job limits their ability to function. If you are injured on the job, make sure to file a report for workers’ comp as soon as you possibly can so that you can receive the coverage you need.

Here’s another article you might like: How to Manage Severe Pain After an Injury