The rise of the Industrial Revolution meant extreme working conditions in early factories.
Hazards were plenty, and injury rates were colossal. Though hurt workers rarely received compensation, they could turn to the courts for help.
However, the legal framework for compensating injuries was exceptionally restrictive – so restrictive that the following principles became known as the “unholy trinity of defenses.” If the employer could prove these to be true about the injury, the worker couldn’t claim a farthing:
Contributory negligence. The employer wouldn’t be held liable if the worker was responsible for his own injury, regardless of how hazardous the machinery or work environment was. So if a worker slipped and lost a hand, they wouldn’t receive compensation.
The “fellow servant” rule. If a fellow employee caused the worker’s injuries, employers were not held liable.
Assumption of risk. This doctrine held that employees accepted the hazards of their work when they signed their contracts. To make matters worse, many industries had employees sign contracts that relinquished their right to sue for injuries. That’s why these unfair documents earned the grim moniker “death contracts.”
Luckily, the rise of Realpolitik in Prussia would usher in the end of these dark times for workers. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck implemented a system of social insurance, known as the Employers’ Liability Law of 1871. This provided some social protection for workers in certain factories, quarries, railroads, and mines.
In 1884, Bismarck championed Workers’ Accident Insurance, which laid the groundwork for today’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
Workers’ Compensation in America
The trend toward compensating workers for their occupational injuries was a little slower to hit the United States. It took Upton Sinclair’s shocking 1906 novel The Jungle, which details the horrors workers experienced in Chicago slaughterhouses, to stir the public’s outrage.
Eventually, Congress passed the Employers’ Liability Acts of 1906 and 1908, which made contributory negligence doctrines less restrictive. Between 1898 and 1909, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Montana attempted and failed to pass workers’ compensation acts.
Wisconsin passed the first comprehensive workers’ compensation law in 1911, while Mississippi was the last state to jump onboard in 1948. These early laws required employers to provide medical and wage replacement benefits for injured workers. If the injured employee accepted these benefits, they forfeit their right to sue the employer.
Today, this basic structure for Workers’ Comp is essentially the same. Most states require employers to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their full- or part-time employees.
Each states’ laws vary and we will happily answer any questions you have regarding your North Carolina or South Carolina claim. Contact us or call us for a free consultation at (910) 341-3202.
Call today for a free consultation and explore your options - (910) 341-3202
Our attorneys specialize in workman's comp, personal injury, and dispute resolution services.
Prior, Criner & Edwards Law, PLCC. have a long history of building long-term client relationships founded on trust and mutual respect.
With over 25 years of experience in civil litigation and thousands of cases mediated, Frank specializes in the fields of workers compensation and personal injury law.
Sherman is Licensed to Practice Law in North and South Carolina. He has extensive education in law and the mediation practice, professional experience and impressive memberships in many noteworthy political, civic and business organizations.
Ashley M. Edwards
Ashley is a NC attorney and certified mediator in North and South Carolina, Ashley has represented hundreds of clients and mediated thousands of cases for attorneys, insurance carriers and private companies.
“These guys are awesome and care about their clients very much. I would suggest anyone hurt on the job to contact them. Cannot express my appreciation enough to them!"
“Ashley Edwards genuinely cares about his clients and holds himself to the highest standards in all of his professional interactions. I am happy to recommend him to anyone who needs help navigating the workers compensation process."
“Ashley has been practicing compensation law in the greater Wilmington area for 15+ years. I have often turned to him for advice and counsel. He knows the law, is trustworthy, listens to his clients, and fights to do the right thing for them. He is my first call!"
“Mr Edwards made my case feel like it was his most important case. He is so caring and attentive."
“This was the first and only law firm I contacted after being injured. Everyone there has been on point concerning my case and extremely professional. I highly recommend contacting workers comp first if injured. It will be as if it's the most important case they have and they will not disappoint. Thank you to the entire team."
“Wonderful Experience under difficult circumstances. They helped me understand my rights and options under the law. Mr. Edwards took the time to help and meet with me whenever I had questions. He is highly recommended for his expert advice and service. "
“This is the place to go if you get hurt on the job Ashley and his paralegal Janet are really nice and super easy to talk to and they take the time to really listen to your problems and get you the help you need and deserve."
“They came out took out time to listen very smart he knows what he's talking about he heard me out and took my case under difficult sircumstances and i highly advise this is the law firm to consider."
“Sherman is one of the best mediators that I know---he is extremely proficient in Workers' Compensation Law and he is an outstanding communicator. I give Sherman my highest rating!"
“Great Experience with a caring lawyer who took the time to actually meet with me. He handled my case to the end and explained everything. Highly recommended."
“Ashley is very knowledgeable and relatable to his clients, to opposing counsel, and to all parties when acting as mediator. "
“Ashley didn't always tell me what I wanted to hear but he always told me the truth. He is very knowledgeable and professional... I would highly recommend Ashley if you feel the need to hire an attorney. "
Get in touch with our team for a free consultation.
Call (910) 341-3202 or complete the form on this page and we'll follow-up with you as soon as possible.