Workers’ compensation is the oldest social insurance program; it was adopted in most states, including California, during the second decade of the 20th century. It is a no-fault system, meaning that injured employees need not prove the injury was someone else’s fault in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury.
The workers’ compensation system is premised on a trade-off between employees and employers — employees are supposed to promptly receive the limited statutory workers’ compensation benefits for on-the-job injuries, and in return, the limited workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for injured employees against their employer, even when the employer negligently caused the injury.
This no-fault structure was designed to — and in fact did — eliminate the then prevalent litigation over whether employers were negligent in causing workers’ injuries. Litigation is now over other issues, such as whether the injury was sustained on-the-job or how much in benefits an injured worker is entitled to receive.