Workers' Compensation 101

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Course Description

Since as far back as Ancient Greece and Rome, there has been a system in place in all civilized societies to compensate those individuals who have become injured or disabled due to a work-related accident. The laws and regulations governing what is known today as Workers' Compensation have changed dramatically over the last 1700 years.

This course will take a close look at the entire Workers' Compensation system, from the filing of an initial claim, to a detailed look on how to choose the right doctor and lawyer, how to represent yourself in the absence of a lawyer, and, most importantly, a detailed look into the specific federal, state, and private benefits that are available to people who have become injured in their workplace. 

Filing a Workers' Compensation claim need not be a daunting task. Every worker must seek the advice of qualified professionals. This course will provide an understanding of the core concepts in a Workers' Compensation claim, as well as education on where to get further information. 

 Being injured in the workplace can mean a significant change in one's life, and it is important to ensure that one's rights – either those of an employee or an employer – are being fully protected.

The History of Workers' Compensation

The history of Workers' Compensation dates back literally thousands of years, to the beginning of written history. Workers' Compensation regulation and laws appear today in virtually all industrialized nations although laws governing workers have changed dramatically throughout history, and the United States is certainly no exception. 

The concept of Workers' Compensation can be found even in antiquity. The peoples of ancient Greece and Rome had very specific rules and regulations that outlined how people should be compensated due to injuries suffered in the course of their employment. While many people today seem to think our sets of laws and regulations are mind-numbingly precise and detailed, it should be noted that even ancient peoples had very precise schedules that governed the levels of compensation for each worker. For example, in ancient Arab law, the loss of a thumb was worth exactly one-half the value of an entire finger. 

As detailed as the ancient Workers' Compensation laws might have been, the difference between an impairment and a disability, a very important distinction in today's labor force, had not yet arisen. It is a distinction that will be discussed in this course. Briefly, an impairment is the loss of the use of a specific body part, or multiple body parts. A disability is the inability to perform one's job or assigned tasks. Although specific rules existed in ancient times for the compensation of impairments, the notion of a disability would take many years to become a part of the Workers' Compensation series of laws.  

As time progressed toward the Middle Ages and feudalism became the prevailing form of government, the specificity of the ancient laws governing Workers' Compensation were replaced with a more localized system. In the Middle Ages, the fate of workers was left chiefly to the feudal lords who were to care for their workers. Each of them made up their own guidelines for the compensation of workers who suffered an injury while under their employment. Naturally, some lords were more benevolent than others and the uniformity of the ancient laws governing Workers' Compensation gave way to a more localized, and chaotic, set of rules in the Middle Ages. It was not until the Renaissance period, roughly beginning in the 14th century, that labor laws were updated to include more uniform Workers' Compensation regulations.

Beginning in the Renaissance period, and leading up to the Industrial Revolution, or approximately the late 18th century, there were three main principles that governed compensation for injured workers. These were contributory negligence, the "fellow servant rule," and the assumption of risk. 

Contributory negligence meant that if a worker contributed to his or her own injury, due to careless use of a machine, for example, the employer was not responsible for the injury. This principle was intact even if the working conditions were less than satisfactory or if the worker was using particularly dangerous machinery. Similarly, if a worker was responsible for the upkeep of any machinery and responsible for maintaining its safe use, any injury due to a malfunction of such machinery could not be blamed on an employer.  

The "fellow servant" rule was put in place to state that an employer was not to be held liable if an injury to a worker was due to a colleague, or a fellow worker. 

The assumption of risk concept was simply that certain workers knew the inherent dangers of certain jobs. It stated that when workers signed their contracts to be employed by an employer, they released the employer from any liability resulting from an injury on the job. Employers were required to provide safety measures but, until modern times, these measures were usually wholly inadequate.

These three principles, when looked at through the context of modern history, seem extremely unfair and, indeed, they were regarded as unfair by many employees during the time periods in which they were enforced. The only recourse a worker had during these times was litigation. In those times, as well as in today's society, legal matters were extremely costly. Additionally, it was extremely difficult for a worker to win any compensation at all. Professional workers, and those with higher levels of education and money, were able to buy a primitive form of disability insurance. As more and more workers became accustomed to bringing lawsuits against their employers, many employers began to criticize the current state of laws and joined the workers in calling for reforms. 

A major change in Workers' Compensation laws began in Prussia in 1871 with the passage of the Employers' Liability Law, which provided some protection to workers in certain sectors of employment. These sectors included such venues as factories and mines. The law was the initiative of Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. In future years, Bismarck also instituted such initiatives as the Workers' Accident Insurance of 1884 which is generally regarded as the first doctrine of modern day Workers' Compensation. Additionally, he started a pension system for workers who were injured in non-job related incidents. It provided a small pension for those unable to work due to an injury as well as those who were never able to work due to certain disabilities. A very important concept of these laws was the protection employers enjoyed from worker lawsuits. The state run laws provided the only recourse for workers who were injured and, in many instances, lawsuits became unnecessary.

As time progressed, countries in the West began to embrace the notion of Workers' Compensation and enacted laws that protected, in essence, both the worker and the employer. The initiative of Otto von Bismarck served as a model for these laws. In 1880, there were laws enacted in England to establish workers' rights, but they were generally regarded as inadequate. It was not until 1897 when the British Parliament passed the Workers' Compensation Act, which provided stringent laws governing workers' rights. It established the right of private companies to provide insurance for workers, unlike the Prussian model which was entirely run by the government. 

Workers' Compensation laws in the United States were not enacted until 1906 and 1908, when a series of laws known as the Employers' Liability Acts were passed. They replaced the contributory negligence concepts of earlier times with regulations that provided a higher level of protection for workers. But, each state was left to decide how to interpret the laws. Each state passed their own version of comprehensive Workers' Compensation laws beginning in 1911. Mississippi was the last state to pass such laws in 1948.

The Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, was the first federal program that provided workers with compensation due to injuries sustained in non-job-related incidents. Like the pension model in Prussia, it also provided for benefits for people who were never able to work due to a disability. 

The history of Workers' Compensation laws shows great improvement over the years, but they are constantly being evaluated and changed as our labor force changes. We will take a close look at our current series of laws to examine how workers are protected in today's marketplace. 
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Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,292 votes)

Lesson 1. The History of Workers' Compensation

Workers' Compensation regulation and laws appear today in virtually all industrialized nations although laws governing workers have changed dramatically throughout history, and the United States is certainly no exception. 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Take Poll: Workers' Compensation Course
  • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Exam

Lesson 2. Workers' Compensation Benefits

Depending on the severity of your injury, and several other factors, you may be entitled to a wide range of benefits. This chapter will address each type of benefit in detail, explain how to obtain these benefits, and, if applicable, what rules and regula 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Review Article: Social Security Disability Resource Center
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Exam

Lesson 3. Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim

Filing a Workers' Compensation claim is often not an easy task, but it need not be a daunting task. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Exam

Lesson 4. Denial of Benefits and Appeals

For most of us, it is traumatic enough just to have an injury at work. But, experiencing a denial of benefits from your employer or your employer's insurance company can make the situation a great deal worse. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Review Article: The Appeals Process
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Exam

Lesson 5. Medical Treatment and Choosing a Doctor

This chapter will address how to choose the right doctor for your needs, and it will address the medical treatments that you are entitled to under Workers' Compensation insurance. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Review Article: The Disability Test
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Exam

Lesson 6. Dealing with Attorneys and Legal Forms

Having an attorney working for you on a Workers' Compensation claim is not required, but it is certainly beneficial in many instances. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Take Poll: Workers' Compensation Case
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Exam

Lesson 7. Handling Your Own Case

Although this chapter will not be an all inclusive lesson on how to represent yourself in legal matters, it will give you an introduction to how the legal process works in a Workers' Compensation case in which you choose to be your own representative. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Exam

Lesson 8. Preparing for a Hearing, Mediation, and Other Litigation Matters

There is an enormous amount of material that must be reviewed during a Workers' Compensation case, and having an attorney to help you through the process of preparing for a hearing, mediation, and other matters concerning the law might prove to be essenti 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Exam

Lesson 9. Financial Considerations

This chapter will address answers to some commonly asked financial questions dealing with Workers' Compensation. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Exam

Lesson 10. Workers Compensation Fraud

Whether you are an employer, a worker, or an insurance agent, you need to be familiar with the subject of Workers' Compensation fraud. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Take Poll: Fraud
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Exam

Lesson 11. Social Security Disability Insurance and Workers' Compensation

Since both the Social Security Administration and the Workers' Compensation system have a great deal of interaction, it is important to fully understand the rules and regulations of the Social Security program. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Review Article: Workers' Compensation Benefits FAQ
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Exam

Lesson 12. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires a covered employer to grant medical leave to an employee under certain circumstances. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Review Article: Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Exam

Lesson 13. Americans with Disabilities Act

Many people who have become disabled as a result of a Workers' Compensation case will want to learn about their rights and protections under the law. 70 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Take Poll: Final Course Poll - Your Opinion
  • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Exam
  • Complete: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Summarize the history of Workers' Compensation.
  • Define Workers' Compensation benefits.
  • Describe the procedures involved in filing a Workers' Compensation Claim.
  • Describe Denial of Benefits and Appeals processes.
  • Summarize medical treatment, and choosing a doctor.
  • Summarize dealing with attorneys and legal forms.
  • Summarize handling your own case.
  • Summarize preparing for a hearing, mediation, and other litigation matters.
  • Identify financial considerations.
  • Summarize Workers Compensation fraud.
  • Compare and contrast Social Security Disability Insurance and Workers' Compensation.
  • Define Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Summarize Americans with Disabilities Act, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

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Course Title: Workers' Compensation 101
Course Number: 7550193
Course Requirements: View Course Requirements
Lessons Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars (1,292 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: Professional Development (Self-Paced, Online Class)
CEU Value: 0.5 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Linda Zavadil
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $50.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $75.00

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