Workman's compensation laws, now usually called workers compensation laws, were originally designed as a social program to help injured workers and the families of employees killed on the job at a time when many workers were hurt or killed due to unsafe worksites and unsafe working conditions. The initial struggle for workers rights and workers compensation benefits started in the US at the beginning of the 20th century as the United States became a progressively industrialized society. As any construction worker, health care aide, mechanic or driver knows, it continues today.
Workers compensation laws and benefits vary from state to state - some states workman's compensation laws are more favorable to injured workers, other states' laws favor employers and insurance companies. When covered by workman's compensation, an injured employee cannot sue his employer in court for damages including pain and suffering. The injured worker is limited, by law, to recovering workers compensation benefits form his employer and its insurance company. In DC, Maryland and Virginia, benefits for workers who cannot work are 2/3 of their average earnings - up to a maximum benefit rate that is different in all three jurisdictions.
Although he cannot sue his employer, the worker hurt on the job does not have to prove his employer was negligent in causing an accident; as long as the injury arises out of and in the course of the worker's employment, it will be covered under workers compensation. An employee injured by someone else - a third party or another company, can sue the third party or company for damages and also obtain workers compensation benefits. Typically a portion of any recovery against the third party will be used to pay back the employer or insurance company that provided the workers compensation benefits.