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Workers' Compensation Attorneys and Law Firms

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An overview workers' compensation, work related injuries, and construction accidents.

Workers' Compensation laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job are provided with fixed monetary awards, eliminating the need for litigation. These laws also provide benefits for dependents of those workers who are killed because of work-related accidents or illnesses. Some laws also protect employers and fellow workers by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover from an employer and by eliminating the liability of co-workers in most accidents. State Workers Compensation statutes establish this framework for most employment. Federal Workers Compensation statutes are limited to federal employees or those workers employed in some significant aspect of interstate commerce.

The Federal Employment Compensation Act provides workers compensation for non-military, federal employees. Many of its provisions are typical of most worker compensation laws. Awards are limited to "disability or death" sustained while in the performance of the employee's duties but not caused willfully by the employee or by intoxication. The act covers medical expenses due to the disability and may require the employee to undergo job retraining. A disabled employee receives two thirds of his or her normal monthly salary during the disability and may receive more for permanent physical injuries, or if he or she has dependents. The act provides compensation for survivors of employees who are killed. The act is administered by the Office of workers Compensation Programs.

The Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA), while not a workers compensation statute, provides that railroads engaged in interstate commerce are liable for injuries to their employees if they have been negligent.

The Merchant Marine Act (the Jones Act) provides seamen with the same protection from employer negligence as FELA provides railroad workers.

Congress enacted the Longshore and Harbor workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) to provide workers compensation to specified employees of private maritime employers. The Office of workers Compensation Programs administers the act.

The Black Lung Benefits Act provides compensation for miners suffering from "black lung" (pneumoconiosis). The Act requires liable mine operators to pay disability payments and establishes a fund administered by the Secretary of Labor providing disability payments to miners where the mine operator is unknown or unable to pay. The Office of workers Compensation Programs regulates the administration of the act.

California's workers Compensation Act provides an example of a comprehensive state compensation program. It is applicable to most employers. The statute limits the liability of the employer and fellow employees. California also requires employers to obtain insurance to cover potential workers compensation claims, and sets up a fund for claims that employers have illegally failed to insure against.

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Workers Compensation, payment made to employees by employers, in accordance with statutory provisions, for injuries and disabilities incurred in the course of employment.

II HISTORY In many countries, prior to the enactment of legislation compelling employers to insure their employees for any injuries sustained in the course of their employment, the employee had the right only to bring a legal action against the employer to obtain damages for such injuries. The employee had to prove that he or she was not responsible for the accident, that no fellow worker was responsible, and that the accident was not a normal risk of the industry; the worker also had to prove the nature and extent of the injury. The result was that only a small proportion of injuries was ever compensated, with consequent serious social effects on injured workers and their families.
About the middle of the 19th century, agitation developed for a program of compulsory compensation of injured employees by employers whether or not the employee was in any way responsible for the accident. The earliest compulsory accident-insurance law was that enacted by Germany in 1884; Britain followed in 1897, and the U.S. in 1908. Today some form of compulsory workers compensation is in force in practically all industrialized countries; in the U.S. the federal government and every state have enacted compensation laws.

III COVERAGE Under workers compensation legislation, scales of compensation are established for accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of employment, without regard to the party responsible for the accident. The scope of coverage varies in the different jurisdictions with respect to benefits payable in case of death, of total disability, and of partial disability due to specific injuries or continuing during specified periods. Administrative requirements compel the reporting of all accidents to a public board that is charged with the responsibility for making compensation awards to workers injured or, in case of death, to their families. In recent years, state workers compensation statutes have been broadened to provide for coverage of occupational diseases (see Occupational and Environmental Diseases).

In many states the compensation laws are not compulsory but elective-that is, the employer may elect to be governed by the provisions of the act. An employer electing not to be so governed cannot assert as a defense to an action for damages that the employee's negligence was a contributory factor, or that the accident was due to the actions of a fellow employee, or that the accident was a normal risk of the business.

Compensation protection places a high charge on the operating costs of industry. Stringent safety programs instituted by the major corporations have nevertheless failed to stop the rise in industrial accident rates. In a recent year, it was estimated that industrial accidents cost U.S. manufacturers more than $11 billion annually.

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Work Related Accidents - Work Injury - Construction Accidents

Accident (work related accident), unintended and unforeseen event, usually resulting in personal injury or property damage. In law, the term is usually limited to events not involving negligence, that is, the carelessness or misconduct of a party involved, or to a loss caused by lightning, floods, or other natural events Act of God. In popular usage, however, the term accident designates an unexpected event, especially if it causes injury or damage without reference to the negligence or fault of an individual. The basic causes of such accidents are, in general, unsafe conditions of machinery, equipment, or surroundings, and the unsafe actions of persons that are caused by ignorance or neglect of safety principles.

II PREVENTION OF ACCIDENTS Organized efforts for the prevention of accidents began in the 19th century with the adoption of factory-inspection laws, first in Britain and then in the United States and other countries Factory System. Fire insurance and accident insurance companies made efforts to enforce safety rules and to educate the public. Factory inspectors and inspectors from fire insurance and casualty insurance companies carried on a campaign against unsafe conditions and actions, and at the beginning of the 20th century a new branch of engineering developed, devoted to finding and eliminating such hazards Industrial Safety.

Laws concerning workers compensation were passed in Germany in 1884, Britain in 1897, and the United States in 1908. By placing on the employer the financial burden of caring for injured workers, such laws created an incentive for providing safe machinery and working conditions and for improved selection and training of employees. In the U.S., the National Safety Council was formed in 1913; this noncommercial organization has since been a leader in accident-prevention activities, especially in the publication of educational literature, the compilation of statistics, and the coordination of the work of schools, clubs, industrial organizations, and state and municipal agencies.

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