The Workers’ Compensation laws have been put in place so that the employees who are either injured or disabled in the course of their duties get monetary awards so as to eliminate any need that might arise for legal action to be taken. Those who depend on the employees who happen to die as a result of accidents in the workplace or illnesses which lead to death are entitled to some benefits. The state workers’ compensation statutes establish a framework where the employers and other workers are protected through the limitation placed on the amount an injured employee can get from an employer and also by eliminating the legal responsibility of the co-workers in almost all the accidents which take place in the workplace. However, the federal statutes are only limited to the federal employees or those who are employed in the important places within the interstate business (LII, 2005).
Other compensation Acts include; The federal Employment Compensation Act which compensates the non-military and federal employees and it is administered by the Office of the Workers’ Compensation Programs, The Federal Employment Liability Act ( FELA) for railroad workers, The Merchant Marine Act for the seamen, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’
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The workplace safety and health laws have put in place regulations whose aim is to eliminate personal injuries and illnesses from taking place in the workplace. The laws are basically on federal and state statutes. The federal and the state statutes obstruct one another through the overlapping and contradictions which exist between them. The Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSHA) is the main statute which protects the health and the safety of employees in the workplace. The legislation was enacted under the constitutional grant of authority with the aim of regulation the interstate business and ensures that protection is given to the employees and their families. The act conducts the research on the workplace health and safety and gives recommendations for the regulations to be put in place to the Secretary of Labor (LII, 2005).
The compensatory damages on the other hand are awarded according to the amount of actual harm which the employee has suffered and the damages are awarded before the punitive damages can even be considered. The punitive damages are awarded together with the actual damages in some circumstances. Though they are considered to be punishment they are only given when the behavior of the defendant is found to be harmful but cannot be awarded when there is a breach of the contract claim (APA, 2007).
The former asbestos worker who developed lung cancer can submit a claim for the workers’ compensation which will enable him or her to support the treatment of his ailment which arose due to the nature of his work. This is according to the tort law. The worker in this case is the injured person and by presenting the claim will prevent the continuation of any tortuous conducts. The tort law allows the injured party to recover damages such as the loss of the capacity to earn, pain and suffering and some medical expenses which are reasonable according to them. However, this will only be possible if the asbestos worker is in a position to provide evidence that the injury, in this case his/her disease, was either an intentional tort, negligent tort or a strict liability tort. The occupational diseases may be underestimated especially if the cause and the effect relationships are not understood; but there is room for the laying of claim with the Workers’ Compensation.
American Psychological Association (APA). (2007). Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Retrieved on August 15, 2007 from www.apa.org/journals/ocp.html.
Legal Information Institute (LII). Cornell Law School .(2005). Workers compensation: an overview. Retrieved on August 15, 2007 from <http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/workers_compensation.html>.