Report No. 62
1A.3. History of workmen's compensation.-
The workmen's compensation system was the result of growing dissatisfaction with the common law procedures and employees' liability laws formerly applying to cases of work injuries.1 Under the common-law procedure, the employee who was injured on his job got little or nothing in recompense. To recover damages against his employer, he had to file a suit and prove that the injury was due to the employer's negligence. This was a costly, difficult and long drawn-out process. And, in addition, the employer, even though he had been negligent, could avail himself of three common law defences, namely, assumption of risk (in other words, volenti non fit injuria), fellow servant rule, and contributory negligence.
1. U.S. Deptt. of Labour, State Workmen's Compensation Laws, Bulletin No. 161 (1968 revision), p. 2.