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Celebrate 100 Years of Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania

100-anniversary-of-workers-copmensation-PAlThis year marks the 100th anniversary of workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania. On June 2, 1915, the act was passed guaranteeing an injured employee the right to wage loss and medical benefits on a no-fault basis when he or she sustains an injury arising during the course of employment.

Through June, KBG Injury Law attorneys, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA), will take a deeper look at the history and the future of workers’ compensation.

According to the PBA, several factors influenced the Commonwealth’s decision:

  • Societal pressure for legislation that would address the epidemic of uncompensated work injuries and deaths
  • The 1911 enactments of such laws in other states, including Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin
  • The positive experience of similar programs in England and Germany
  • Employers’ desire to be free of unpredictable tort liability in civil actions

Steps Leading to Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania

The turn of the century brought the Industrial Revolution to the United States. While the economy soared, sweatshop factory workers faced despair, disability and sometimes death.

At that time, 12 percent of all U.S. workers would be killed or seriously injured on the job per year, according to the PBA. There was only a 1-in-5 chance the company would pay compensation to survivors’ families.

The Progressive Era called for change. Upton Sinclair’s book “The Jungle” and William Hard’s article “Making Steel and Killing Men” spotlighted dangerous working conditions.

In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Congress:

“This is an outrage. It is a matter of humiliation to the nation that there should not be on our statute books provision to meet and partially to atone for cruel misfortune when it comes upon a man through no fault of his own … .”

That same year, the Federal Employers Liability Act was passed, protecting and compensating railroaders injured on the job.

The Pennsylvania law went into effect Jan. 1, 1916, and has been amended 10 times since.

By 1949, all states had legislated some form of workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp became the first widespread social insurance program in United States history.

President Richard Nixon solidified the importance of workplace safety by signing into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

Today’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits

In the 21st century, more than $40 billion is paid to families of injured workers each year. Often, this benefit comes at a cost of lower wages for employees overall. However, there are three general benefits to workers’ compensation:

  1. Employers get tort relief
  2. Injured workers receive compensation, usually two-thirds of their salary for the period of disability, or in the form of a lump sum for any permanent / partial disability
  3. Employers must pay for workers’ medical and rehabilitation costs


Too often, workers do not receive the compensation they deserve when injured on the job. Our attorneys are skilled at taking on insurers and employers to guarantee workers receive coverage of medical costs and lost income. Contact our team at KBG Injury Law to learn more about how we can fight for you.

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To all current and prospective clients, please be advised that while we are open for business and working remotely, effective Tuesday March 17th, our offices will be closed to the public. All of our attorneys will continue to advocate for their clients and are available via telephone, email and/or videoconference. Our receptionist will continue to answer the phone and connect you with our attorneys and staff as needed. To our prospective clients, we are here for you to answer questions and to consult with free of charge as usual. Consultations can be conducted by telephone or videoconference. We hope everyone and their families are safe and sound during this unusual time. Please call or email us with any questions or concerns. Thank you!Contact Us