Workmen's Compensation: Prevention, Insurance, and Rehabilitation of Occupational Disability

Workmen's Compensation: Prevention, Insurance, and Rehabilitation of Occupational Disability

Workmen's Compensation: Prevention, Insurance, and Rehabilitation of Occupational Disability

Workmen's Compensation: Prevention, Insurance, and Rehabilitation of Occupational Disability

Excerpt

We had to write this book in order to learn what had happened to workmen's compensation in the United States. There appeared to be no other way. One of the most remarkable facts about the oldest of our social security programs is the lack of information available about it. Students or practitioners in specialized phases of workmen's compensation could not be directed to any general description or appraisal of the program as a whole. Only one scholarly work on the subject had appeared since 1936 and it was directed to the specialist or advanced student. There is no central source of operational data as there is for other social security programs.

A second remarkable feature, especially regarding a program so enshrouded in mystery, is the extent of its ramifications. Workmen's compensation costs American employers about $1.3 billion a year. It is a major source of support for the families of about 16,000 workers who are killed at work each year and a large proportion of the 2 million who are injured -- compensating nearly 400,000 beneficiaries each week. It is a source of livelihood for thousands of lawyers, doctors, insurance officials and brokers, safety engineers, and a variety of other professional groups. In addition to the daily operations of 54 administrative jurisdictions, the program is a subject of public policy debate at almost every session of the forty-eight State legislatures and of prodigious litigation at every judicial level.

The significance and impact of workmen's compensation are not confined to occupational disability. There is a growing ferment in the United States regarding the problems of general disability and medical care. Public and private programs are widely discussed and spreading rapidly. Yet discussion and decisions are generally taking place in complete disregard of the oldest and largest relevant experience in this country. Aside from workmen's compensation, the American social security system dates only from 1935, yet it is being adjusted and expanded with little or no reference to almost half a century of experience with our only mature social insurance program.

As a society we have an extravagant tendency to allow old laws . . .

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