Alabama Workers' Comp Blawg

  • 08
  • Sep
  • 2019

Lawyers More Cutthroat than Pirates When it comes to Workers’ Compensation


When you think of pirates of the 13th Century, images of fierce sword-wielding warriors engaged in bloody ship to ship sea battles immediately come to mind.  It may shock you to know, that pirates actually had one of the earliest no-fault workers’ compensation systems.  Each ship had a written compensation schedule where it was agreed that the loss of a limb would result in a lump sum payment of a pre-set number of pieces of eight.  Once the agreement was signed, it was not negotiable.  Therefore, despite their bloody nature, the pirates’ workers’ compensation system was not adversarial in any way.


The modern day workers’ compensation system, however, is exceedingly adversarial. By definition, the system is characterized by conflict or opposition.  The word “adversarial” is synonymous with words such as “jaundiced”, “negative”, “unfriendly”, and “unsympathetic”.  Such an antagonistic system often times results in delays to the injured employee and increased costs to the employers and insurers.  Why and how has it come to this? 


There is language in every state’s Workers’ Compensation Act that is open to interpretation by judges. Issues of causation and extent of disability are also typically litigated matters.  Contributing to the process are harbored feelings by parties and their lawyers of bias, demonization, distrust, prejudice, and stigmatization.  When you throw in the personalities and emotions of all involved, it creates an environment that would shiver even a pirate’s timbers.  


On September 19, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. EST, a webinar entitled Adversarial Workers’ Compensation Systems; Survival and Success in a Contentious World will be co-hosted by the President of, Bob Wilson, and Judge David Langham.  Joining as guests to this 10th installment of The Hot Seat webinar series will be Virginia Commissioner Wes Marshall and yours truly.  Registration is free.  You may register here.

About the Author

This blog submission was prepared by Mike Fish, an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Fish Nelson & Holden is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Fish by e-mailing him at or by calling him directly at 205-332-1448.

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