THE HISTORY OF THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION SYSTEM
Webster Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines a "system" as "a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole." Workers' compensation is a system, but it does not always act as a "unified whole." This chapter will trace the history of workers" compensation and show how it has evolved into what it is today. In addition, other forms of "workers' compensation" will be discussed.
The stories in Chapter 1 are typical of the workers' compensation system today at its worst: when it fails. When we hear these stories, we begin to wonder what went wrong, and why the system is the way it is. In fact, 95 percent of workers' compensation cases proceed without problems, but unfortunately, the remaining 5 percent can be painful experiences for all parties. In addition, trends indicate that a greater percentage of cases will become problematic in the future.
Before the early twentieth century, workers' compensation did not exist in the United States. At this time, most people worked