Laws and rules are enacted and enforced to protect people. Lawyers help enact and enforce them. Lawyers help protect people. Today, I’d like to tell you about some important history that I learned about for the first time on Father’s Day through a little news article and maybe some history most people don’t know. That history is about alleged injuries from radium exposure or ingestion, the “radium girls” and the lawyer who took on the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois in the 1920s. This court fight and battle perhaps became one of the driving forces behind workers compensation that exists today.
Workers compensation laws protect employees who are injured on the job. You see, while people in this day and age might see people who sue or “make claims” as perhaps greedy or the lawyers as “ambulance chasers” and only out for the money, the truth is, people really do get injured, their lives turned upside down and the lawyers who help them are seeking to protect them, help them with their lives and simultaneously, just earn a living. That’s what I do every day – help people.
In the 1920s, a lawyer took on the Radium Dial Company. The five “girls” who were represented became known as the “radium girls.” The radium girls were employed by the Radium Dial Company to use small brushes to paint radium onto watch faces (to make them glow at night) all day long and would often “lick” the small brush to get a fine tip to paint better and faster. The more watches they painted, the more they got paid or the more “secure” their job would be. Radium entered their systems and they became quite ill (and perhaps later suffered an early death due to long term effects from radiation poisoning) – all due to the workplace environment. The case settled in 1928. Sometime thereafter, Argonne National Laboratory undertook a radium study published in 1994 titled “Radium in Humans, A Review of U.S. Studies” by R.E. Rowland. You can find the link to the 200+ page study here.
Eventually, the Radium Dial Company closed down but it showed the world (and especially the United States) that workers need protection and shouldn’t suffer injury on the job – or especially without compensation. It sent a message that work places should be made safer and that people need safe work environments.
If you were injured on the job, reach out to a lawyer who will fight for you – and with compassion, passion, integrity and trust. Even the smallest of injuries can turn your life – and that of your family – upside down. Life is fragile in various respects. Fight.
To learn more about Chicago Workers Compensation Law and how it can help you with your case, contact Attorney Phil Berenz today and discover how he can fight for you. contact us here.