It may be hard to imagine, but one century ago workers compensation was only in its infant stages and all employees were basically operating under “Work at Your Own Risk” policies. The 21st century has ushered in a variety of new laws upheld by Illinois workers compensation attorneys but the establishment and evolution of workers compensation is quite fascinating. You might be surprised at what it took to make workers compensation a state and federal law.
Ask any Chicago workers compensation lawyer and they will tell you the history of this law is both intriguing and significant to the world today. Let’s start back in the early 1900’s:
On November 13th, in Cherry, Illinois, a catastrophic mine fire killed 259 men and boys. While there had been brief periods of momentum for workers safety and workers compensation legislation in the past, this event proved to be the prime example.
The newly founded Employers’ Liability Commission surveyed 1,200 employers, 1,700 labor organizations, and 200 judges and lawyers. They also researched 5,000 accidents. Out of the 506 fatal accidents, 40% of the families received absolutely nothing.
On May 1st the first workers compensation act in Illinois took effect; however it only applied to hazardous industries such as construction, mining, electrical work. The new law did not receive much attention due to the sinking of the Titanic on April 15th.
The courts actually declared the 1912 act invalid pretty quickly so legislature replaced it with one which was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court. Due to the high amount of new cases, the Industrial Board was created. The Board received 772 claims in its first year.
The annual report of this year claimed Chicago workers compensation cases were resolved in 30 days while downstate cases were resolved in 60 days. The Industrial Board received up to 900 pieces of mail each day handled by one office clerk who also hand delivered all of the outgoing mail in the Loop.
Looking back 100 years workers compensation has certainly come a long way; just ask any Chicago workers compensation lawyer. If you have any questions on the current state of the system or need some counsel contact an Illinois workers compensation attorney right away.