ocusing on railway company accidents, consideration is given to the rationale behind the judicial doctrine of 'common employment', and the defences of 'assumption of risk' and 'contributory negligence', used to bar victims from receiving legal reparation. Evidence suggests that it was
not until 1897 when the Workmen's Compensation Act abandoned the 'fault' principle that the majority of accident victims were able to claim compensation. This article considers the railways' response to workplace accidents and the classification of workplace victims under the headings of 'misconduct,
want of caution or causes beyond their control'. It rejects the recent criticism of the 1897 Act, in particular the argument that unlimited employer liability would have been more beneficial in terms of safety.