Brief History of Workers’ Compensation

Brief History of Workers’ Compensation

The modernized system of workers’ compensation attorney Orlando is pretty mysterious and complex and thus produces substantial grief to people who are supposed to deal with it on a regular basis. Despite these factors, these complex regulations are so important for society that they exist in every industrialized nation.

A brief glance at the worker’s law over the period defines the inefficiency of the historical alternatives to meet the goals of economic efficiency or social justice.

The Role of Worker’s Compensation in Antiquity

As far as the history of compensation of physical injury is concerned, it began shortly after the introduction of written history. The history of Worker’s Compensation dates back to 2050 B.C. The Ur law provided money for compensation to worker who suffered any physical injury, including fractures in different body parts. The Hammurabi code from 1750 B.C. also provided a similar set of monetary rewards for specific physical injuries as well as for impairments that were permanent. Ancient Chinese, Arab, Roman, and Greek law provided sets of different schedules for compensations, with decided payments for those workers who experienced loss of a body part.

Under the ancient Arab law, if a worker suffered loss of a joint in the thumb, it will be valued as one-half of a finger. The compensation for the loss of an ear was decided according to its surface area. In short, all the ancient schemes for compensation were based on schedules such as this; the injuries of specific body parts determined the pre-decided rewards. However, there was no reward decided for ‘disability’ or ‘impairment’ for the workers.

Yet, the schedules for compensations of antiquity were eventually overtaken as feudalism of the Middle Ages and became the government’s primary structure. The feudal lords’ arbitrary benevolence determined what injuries suffered by workers deserve compensatory reward. Thus, the concept of monetary compensation against injury or loss of body part was bound up in the doctrine of noblesse oblige.

With the introduction of English common law during the Renaissance and Middle Ages, a legal framework was developed that persevered as an Industrial Revolution throughout United States and Europe. According to this early industrial revolution system, three critical principles were developed that helped in determining whether the injuries were compensable or not.

Since these principles were extremely restrictive, they were more popularly called as the ‘unholy trinity of defenses.’ The principles are:

  1. Contributory Negligence

In case the worker was involved or responsible for the loss or injury in any way, the employer was not held responsible by the doctrine of contributory negligence.

  1. The ‘Fellow Servant’ Rule

According to this rule, the employer is not held responsible for the worker’s injury or loss of body part in case the incident occurred due of the negligence or action of any fellow employee.

  1. The ‘Assumption of Risk’

The concept of this principle was exceptionally vague as it simply outlined that if the employee is aware of the risk of hazards associated with a particular job, the employer will not be responsible for any loss or injury that the worker faces.


While the system is excessively burdened and intricate by the implementation of different schemes proposed by all the fifty states, the compensation law for workers remains the success story of the American legislation. And today, the survival of this system depends on both the state government as well as the federal government.