Tag Archives: WILG

Is Worker’s Comp Profitable Because Disabled Workers Don’t Get Benefits?

I recently wrote an article in the national magazine for the Worker’s Injury Law Advocacy Group (WILG), the Worker’s First Watch, Fall 2013 reviewing the worker’s compensation resources research report indicating that the worker’s compensation industry is extremely profitable.  I began representing injured workers in 1976.  It seems every year since then worker’s compensation insurance carriers have complained they are not making profits and the culprit responsible is increased benefits paid to workers.  In fact, over the last 20 years the insurance industry has been profitable in 16 of 19 years and broke even in one year.  Several factors account for this profitability, including worker’s compensation insurance carriers successfully pursuing deregulation and “reform” measures to restrict eligibility. 

The net result of increasingly restrictive rules for compensability in many State worker’s compensation systems as a result of “reform” resulted in many workers with disabilities caused by work who did not receive worker’s compensation benefits.

The general trend since the early 1990s has been to restrict coverage through State statutory and administrative “reform”.  Many workers face lengthy litigation and frustration.  More restrictive regulations may preclude claims where the worker lacks “objective” medical evidence for his injury, or is unable to medically document persistent pain, or has a disease resulting from multiple causation that cannot be distinguished from workplace disease, or has job stress related disorders.  One significant problem is that many injured workers fail to file for benefits.  (For those of us in the trenches daily, these pose obstacles to compensability.)  Among the many reasons for failure to file are:

  • Ignorance of worker’s compensation and eligibility.
  • Ignorance of the work-relatedness of the condition.  (Many workers know they suffer an impairment but do not know the health condition is caused by work.)
  • Reimbursement for medical care or Short Term Disability benefits available.  (Many workers use Short Term Disability or group medical insurance rather than worker’s comp.)
  • Belief that the injury is lacking in sufficient severity.
  • Many workers fear job loss or other forms of retaliation, who do not want to report a condition as work-related.
  • Workers do not want to be perceived as complainers or careless.
  • Deciding not to file based on the negative experience of co-workers.
  • Fear of the stigma associated with being a worker’s compensation claimant.  (Much of this stems from the intense focus on fraud perpetrated by the insurance industry, resulting in increased levels of stigmatization, decreasing the likelihood injured workers will file for benefits.)
  • Pressure from co-workers on safety incentive programs.  (These programs, sometimes called “Safety Bingo” create incentives not to report.)

Those of us who have hearings daily that involve the non-reporting of an injury, or significant time delay between the occurrence of an injury and the reporting of an injury, can refer to the above list for some ammunition on the “non-filing” or “late filing” issues.

Thomas Domer Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Commitment to Injured Workers

Thomas Domer Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Jay Causey present Thomas Domer with the Lifetime Achievement Award

On October 12, 2012, Thomas Domer received the Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG) annual convention.  This is no small honor.  The lifetime achievement award “is reserved for those individuals who have gone above and beyond the norm, and who continue to play a vital role in supporting WILG and advocating for the issues important to WILG’s mission,” which involves representing the interests of injured workers and their families.    

A dinner and award service occurred in Tom’s honor, and the WILG President, J.R. Boyd indicated that “Tom is a great advocate for injured workers, and has performed a Herculean task as co-editor of WILG’s Workers’ First Watch magazine, which continues to be THE best produced workers’ rights magazine in the country.”

As part of the ceremony, the co-editor of Wokers’ First Watch, Jay Causey from Washington, provided a moving and thoughtful introduction. Tom graciously accepted the award and spoke about his long-term commitment to workers and serving others.  It was a fantastic evening and a fitting and deserved tribute.

Join me in congratulating Tom in his career of achievements.

Connecting With Peers Energizes

Last fall I participated in meeting in San Diego with other lawyers who represent injured workers. We are part of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group (WILG), a network of like-minded advocates for workers’ rights, sharing information and knowledge, a sense of commitment and kinship, and networking to help each other and our clients.

I made a presentation on Workers’ Compensation Ethics and was challenged by my colleagues penetrating and sometimes perplexing questions and issues. Meetings on a national scale help to provide some perspective on the practice of representing injured workers.

Quite simply in Wisconsin, despite all of our recent problems with Union decertification and benefits rollbacks, we have an exemplary workers’ compensation system. I am routinely bombarded at gatherings, cocktail parties, seminars with stories about workers’ compensation fraud, allegedly perpetrated by workers. One focus of the San Diego conference was on employer and insurer fraud by misrepresenting and misclassifying workers, Continue reading