Workers compensation laws eliminate the need for litigation, allowing
workers that are injured on the job to collect fixed monetary awards. In
addition, workers compensation laws allow families of workers injured or
killed in work related accidents to collect benefits. These laws may
also protect employers by setting limits on the amounts of lawsuits, as
well as limiting the personal liability of co-workers. Most workers
compensation cases are governed by state statutes, with federal workers
under the jurisdiction of federal statutes.
Workers Compensation Statutes
The Federal Employment Compensation Act provides workers compensation
for non-military, federal employees. Many of its provisions are typical
of most worker compensation laws. Awards are limited to "disability or
death" sustained while in the performance of the employee's duties but
not caused willfully by the employee or by intoxication. The act covers
medical expenses due to the disability and may require the employee to
undergo job retraining. A disabled employee receives two thirds of his
or her normal monthly salary during the disability and may receive more
for permanent physical injuries, or if he or she has dependents. The act
provides compensation for survivors of employees who are killed. The act
is administered by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.
The Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA), while not a workers'
compensation statute, provides that railroads engaged in interstate
commerce are liable for injuries to their employees if they have been
The Merchant Marine Act (the Jones Act) provides seamen with the same
protection from employer negligence as FELA provides railroad workers.
Congress enacted the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
(LHWCA) to provide workers' compensation to specified employees of
private maritime employers. The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
administers the act.
The Black Lung Benefits Act provides compensation for miners
suffering from "black lung" (pneumoconiosis). The Act requires liable
mine operators to pay disability payments and establishes a fund
administered by the Secretary of Labor providing disability payments to
miners where the mine operator is unknown or unable to pay. The Office
of Workers' Compensation Programs regulates the administration of the
California 's Workers' Compensation Act provides an example of a
comprehensive state compensation program. It is applicable to most
employers. The statute limits the liability of the employer and fellow
employees. California also requires employers to obtain insurance to
cover potential workers' compensation claims, and sets up a fund for
claims that employers have illegally failed to insure against.