If you don’t know the name Arthur Larson but you work in the insurance industry, maybe you should.
Larson, who died in 1993, is most famous for his authorship of the still-used legal treatise on the Law of Workmen’s Compensation, written while he was assistant professor of law at Cornell Law School, which led to his being named dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1953.
The treatise is still in use today and has since been edited by his son, Lex, who is affiliated with Lexis Nexis. The book was formative in that it was the first document that looked to standardize workers compensation across the nation not only for the benefit of companies and legal representatives but also for the American worker. It has grown from two to 12 volumes. Larson’s Workers’ Compensation, Desk Edition eBook from LexisNexis® is now available with coverage on the exclusive remedy defense, employment status, medical and death benefits, psychological injuries, and third-party claims from various jurisdictions with appropriate WC interpretation.
According to Peter Rousmaniere, a blogger and expert in the compensation industry who has researched Larson’s life, “Larson had the idea that (in his son Lex’s words) ‘if you can find common threads in the way courts in the various states were deciding various legal issues, the field of workers’ compensation could be recast much more as a single, national body of law.’ A currently practicing lawyer calls Larson’s guide essential. He said, ‘It is imperative to see the breadth of possible interpretations from various jurisdictions to fully understand what is at stake.'”
Rousmaniere goes on to write, “Larson’s vision was apparent in his other writings, perceptively analyzed by his biographer, David Stebenne. Larson saw workers’ compensation law not as a radical redesign of the old tort system but rather as the earliest element of a new and peculiarly American system of social benefits. Unemployment insurance, nonoccupational disability insurance and retirement programs were part of this system. He thought some programs were better run in the public sector, others in the private sector. Workers compensation was for him well designed: privately financed, with benefits set according to the injured worker’s wages. He applauded state-mandated nonoccupational disability insurance, an idea since endorsed by few states.”
Among advents Larson brought about were unemployment insurance, nonoccupational disability insurance and retirement programs.
Larson went on to write A Republican Looks at His Party, which propelled him to go on to be President Dwight Eisenhower’s top speech writer and director of the United States Information Agency. He was a law professor at Duke University at the time of his death.
PETER ROUSMANIERE is an expert on the workers compensation industry and a columnist with Risk & Insurance. His original and more-complete article on Larson can be found here.
Peter Rousmaniere can be reached at 802-457-9149 or by email at email@example.com. His professional website is www.peterrousmaniere.com and his well-known blog about immigrants is: www.workingimmigrants.com
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