Moments that Matter

I recently ran across a fantastic retrospective published in 2018 by Time, "The 25 Moments From American History That Matter Right Now." It is a compilation of the thoughts of "25 acclaimed experts in U.S. history" and their thoughts on what has occurred that remains pertinent or important.
The list is obviously both expansive in scope (centuries of U.S. History are addressed), and constricted (only 25 events). And examples include the "first successful voyage across the Pacific Ocean" (1564); The Gettysburg Address (1863); The suffragist movement (specifically Ida Wells Barnett, 1862 - 1931); Downes v. Bidwell (1901 - governance of territories); World War I (1918); The Scopes Trial (1925); racial equality in the military (1948); Nixon Meets Mao (1972); Genetically Modified Organisms (1980); Anita Hill speaks up (1991). The complete list is worthy of a careful analysis.
The context is compelling, and each of the listed items is of marked importance. Despite that, a fair few notable events were left off the list. I might suggest Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the Apollo landing (1969), the Berlin Wall Speech (1982), Thurgood Marshall's defense of the Groveland Four (1949) and so much more. Anyone that would strive to understand the American Civil Rights era should read about the Groveland Four, an integral piece of Florida history. Gilbert King's The Devil in the Grove is an excellent starting point. Yet, I digress. 
In fairness, we are living history every day. It is all around us, in events both big and small. We are perhaps too caught up in the day-to-day to notice many of the events that shape us, particularly those that are today's acorns and which few have prescience to note as probable oaks of tomorrow.
The Time article is a fine piece from the perspective it brings. It is a conversation starter, an illustration of views and ideas. The viewpoints of those invited to contribute illustrate a vast array of both events and chronology. And, in the process, perhaps I am not the only one to be drawn to thoughts therefore about the events and items not on the list. I am certain that my humble suggestions regarding omissions are less than exhaustive. Everyone that reads the piece would likely note their own glaring deficiencies. History, perhaps, is subject to our personal views, predispositions, and recollections?
What of the perspectives on a smaller world? In this little corner of the world that is workers' compensation, are there events that merit retention and attention as those that "matter right now?" I would suggest there are several. Some are obvious. There would be perhaps unanimous agreement as to a few:
Wisconsin's passage of the first successful workers' compensation law (1911).
New York Central R. Co. v. White, 243 U.S. 188 (1917).
The 1948 adoption of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Law (marking the unanimity of this concept in the nation).
The implementation of Social Security Disability Insurance (1956).
The 1958 publication of an American Medical Association (AMA) article: "A Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment of the Extremities and Back."
The passage of the Job Safety Law of 1970 (OSHA).
1980 passage of the Medicare Secondary Payer Act.
The Opioid epidemic, addiction, overdose, and death (1990s).
1992 implementation of Medicare fee for service schedule.
I find these ten notable and foundational to workers' compensation in the 21st century. Undoubtedly there are many more. Much has changed in the last 100 years. The injured worker and employer alike have benefitted from workers' compensation, and yet also been burdened. There are perceptions voiced by each as to the challenges and perceptions of these systems. The criticisms about fairness and equity are frequent and periodically boisterous. And yet, these state systems have been largely successful in socializing the risk and cost of production and service in the incredibly complex and significant American economy.
What mileposts have I missed? What "moments matter" right now in the American workers' compensation systems? How might the answers to that question change in another 100 years, or stated more simply what are we doing now (acorn) that will one day be of such import (Oak)? In the day-to-day, it is too easy to accept that "it is what it is." But, the overarching goal of workers' compensation is aptly captured in section 440.015, Fla. Stat.
"to assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker and to facilitate the worker’s return to gainful reemployment at a reasonable cost to the employer." 
How are we pursuing that ideal? What are we contributing to the history, evolution, and improvement of these many systems? What are we planting that may go to the next generation as fruit? Introspective? Yes. But, there must be more to our contribution than stewardship of the past. How will tomorrow fare as a result of our effort(s)? Let me hear from you. Suggestions of omission will perhaps feature in a follow-up post. 
By Judge David Langham
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    About The Author

    • Judge David Langham

      David Langham is the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings. He has been involved in workers’ compensation for over 25 years as an attorney, an adjudicator, and administrator. He has delivered hundreds of professional lectures, published numerous articles on workers’ compensation in a variety of publications, and is a frequent blogger on Florida Workers’ Compensation Adjudication. David is a founding director of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary and the Professional Mediation Institute, and is involved in the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). He is a vocal advocate of leveraging technology and modernizing the dispute resolution processes of workers’ compensation.

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