Workers’ Compensation: New Jersey Celebrates 100 Years Since the End of the Governorship of Woodrow Wilson—the Father of New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation System
In March of 1913—exactly 100 years ago—New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson stepped down as governor to begin his tenure as the 28th President of the United States. In honor of this anniversary, a number of New Jersey schools and newspapers have been commemorating President Wilson in various ways
For example, see: http://www.centraljersey.com/articles/2013/03/11/the_princeton_packet/news/doc513e591473bff934193720.txtand http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S36/27/52M05/index.xml?section=topstories).
What is often not included in such commemorations is a mention of Wilson’s connection to workers’ compensation laws both in New Jersey and around the country.
While governor of this state, Wilson did something no other governor had yet done at the time: he oversaw the creation of the very first workers’ compensation system, as we know it, in the country. Before the implementation of that revolutionary program, employers could use a number of defenses to escape having to pay for injuries. If any amount of the injury was a result of the worker’s negligence. If the injury was a “natural risk” of the job. If the injury was the result of a co-worker’s negligence. All of these were defenses to payments and medical bill coverage. Under Wilson’s law, these defenses were eliminated—and a no-fault system of assured medical care implemented—in exchange for workers’ relinquishing the right to sue for more.
Certainly, the law continued to evolve and adapt. Even under Governor Wilson, workers’ compensation rules changed. But New Jersey remains a leader in workers’ compensation law.
“It is testament to the cooperation and resolve of New Jersey elected officials, the business community and labor leaders that New Jersey was the first state to enact a workers’ compensation system,” Peter Calderone (director/chief judge of the N.J. Division of Workers’ Compensation) wrote in an op-ed about the anniversary of the system’s creation. “This unity of purpose continues—after 100 years—to support this necessary benefit program for the more than 4 million members of New Jersey’s workforce.”
For more on the centennial of workers’ compensation, see http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2011/09/honoring_njs_100_years_of_work.html.
Or if you have any specific quesionts regarding NJ workers compensation claims contact Gaylord Popp, LLC at 609-771-8611 or visit our webpage at www.gaylordpopp.com