The ancient history of workers’ compensation

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2016 | Construction Workers' Accidents |

Illinois workers who suffer an injury on the job can get help with paying for their medical care and time unable to work by filing a workers’ compensation claim. Getting this kind of financial assistance to pay for expensive medical care can truly feel like a dream come true — and one of the benefits of living in the modern era. However, what most Illinois workers never considered is the fact that workers’ compensation has been around for thousands of years.

Back in 2050 B.C., or approximately 4,000 years before anyone would have to decide whether their 8-year-old son is old enough to get an iPad for Christmas, the ancient Sumerians in present-day Iraq developed a rudimentary insurance system designed to help injured workers. Under Sumerian law, workers received compensation after getting hurt, and that compensation was based on the specific body parts that were injured. For example, workers who lost their thumbs in an on-the-job event would receive half the compensation that someone who lost a finger would receive.

In ancient China, Greece and Rome, there were similar laws that indicated a specific amount of for different body parts that were injured. These ancient systems also distinguished between disabilities that prevented the performance of certain tasks, and impairments that resulted in the loss of function in a particular body part.

So the next time you hear about an Illinois hardhat getting hurt on the job, know that we have the ancient Sumerians, Greeks and Romans to thank for the fact that the injured worker is covered for the costs of his medical care. Employees who receive workers’ compensation benefits in the modern day can get reimbursed for the full costs of their medical care regardless the body part involved and regardless the injuries. They can also get money to reimburse them for the time they were unable to work while recovering from injuries in many cases.

Source: Insureon, “A Brief (Non-Boring) History of Workers’ Compensation,” accessed Dec. 28, 2016

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