Lawrence Strike of 1912Lawrence Strike of 1912 | Photo source:

As labor unions began to form and employees began to organize and voice their complaints to the widespread injustice they faced, an interest in the value of the human worker was sparked and the law began to change. Both employers and employees saw the value in a system where the costs of litigation could be kept down and injuries could be quickly compensated, but there had to be a tradeoff in order for the system to work. Employers would have to agree to compensate injuries on a no-fault basis, and workers to give up their right to sue. In exchange, the idea of Workers’ Compensation was born.

Who Influenced the Development of the Workers’ Compensation System?

Crystal Eastman

One influential character in what is known as the “Progressive Movement” towards a system of Workers’ Compensation in the U.S. was Crystal Eastman. A Massachusetts born lawyer, feminist and journalist, Eastman was offered her first job, investigating labor conditions, for The Pittsburg Survey in 1907. Her report, Work Accidents and the Law, published in 1910, had a big impact on the already hot topic of working conditions in America. Her work highlighted the inherent problems with the negligence based compensation system in place, which often favored employers and left workers without any redress. She also focused on the many benefits of making workers’ compensation a preventative program, which would ultimately favor large employers and provide workers with some protection in case of injury. Ultimately, her work was seen as changing the negative attitude businesses had towards workers’ compensation and paving the way for the system to develop.

How Did Workman’s Compensation Change?

labor movement

Ultimately, both big businesses, labor unions, and workers agreed that a compromise in order to protect the rights of workers and lower costs was necessary. The Workers’ Compensation System offered both by utilizing a no-fault based insurance program where employees could collect a certain amount of money for specific injuries. In exchange, employees would not sue their employer in court for the injury. After 1910, the enactment of workers’ compensation systems quickly spread through the U.S., with all but six states adopting the regulations by 1920.

Contact an Experienced Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyer

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation LawyerIf you or someone you know has been injured while at work, our firm works with experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys here in Massachusetts. You may be entitled to collect for workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages, medical bills and possibly a lump sum settlement, among other benefits. No fees are received unless you win your case. For a free (no obligation) case evaluation, call us toll free at 1-800-992-6878. You may also fill out our contact form online.