Workers compensation laws have been enacted in all 50 states. These laws provide compensation to employees as a result of job related injuries and illnesses. The amount of compensation is determined by law and generally is based upon the nature and extent of the employee’s disability. In exchange for such benefits, employees give up the right to sue an employer directly. Fault is irrelevant under workers compensation laws. As one court has observed, “workmen’s compensation, like the gentle rain from heaven, falls on the just and unjust alike.”4 Thomas v. Certified Refrigerators, Inc., 221 N.W.2d 378 (Mich. 1974).
The only inquiries are (1) did an employment relationship exist; (2) did the injury occur during the course of employment; and (3) what were the nature and extent of the injuries?
Workers compensation laws are founded on the premise that job related injuries and illnesses are inevitable and should be allocated between the employer and the consumer as a cost of doing business. This is accomplished, in most cases, by the employer purchasing insurance to cover the costs of workers compensation benefits, with the cost of such insurance being passed on to consumers through price adjustments.5 Gunter v. Mersereau, 491P.2d 1205 (Ore. 1971).
As a result, the ultimate cost of an employee’s work-related injury or illness is borne by the consumers of the product or service that the employee was hired to produce.