Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group is the national non-profit membership organization dedicated to representing the interests of millions of workers and their families who, each year, suffer the consequences of workplace injuries and illnesses. The group acts principally to assist attorneys and non-profit groups in advocating the rights of injured workers through education, communication, research, and information gathering.
WILG was founded in 1995 by a small group of claimants' attorneys and has grown into an organization of nearly 1,000 members representing every state in the nation. Our members include sole practitioners, attorneys from multi-lawyer firms and paralegals. WILG works everyday to make sure that as the challenges that face injured workers change, we evolve to meet those new challenges. Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group has grown into an important, national voice for workers. WILG’s members are committed to improving the quality of legal representation to those injured on the job or victims of occupational illness by superior legal education and by keeping informed of legislative and judicial proceedings.
2015 Presidents Message
Dear Member: I raised my hand to be sworn as President of WILG, pledging an oath of fealty to members of the organization, respecting our collective mission, protecting past success and provisioning for the future.
I am grateful for this honor and cognizant of the responsibility.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. -Margaret Mead
We have never been better positioned as a national organization to advocate on behalf of the families of injured workers.
Recent success in reviewing courts have highlighted nationally the unconstitutional danger posed to the community when injured workers lose access to effective legal representation, have capricious benefit limits imposed upon them, or are disabled due to unfair medical treatment bureaucracies.
WILG and its members have been at the fore of litigation battles where catastrophically injured workers have lost their savings, been forced onto welfare rolls and into Social Security Disability plans while simultaneously being denied access to the civil courthouse and the free exercise of their 7th amendment right to a jury trial. See Wade v. Scott Recycling (Virginia); Malcomson v. Liberty Northwest (Montana); Pilkington & Lee v. State of Oklahoma (Oklahoma); Padgett v. State of Florida (reversed on procedural grounds), Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, and Castellanos v. Next Door Company (Florida).
The United States Department of Labor in coordination with OSHA have finally “discovered” that employee misclassification and wage theft are rampant, and that the cost-shifting externalization of care for injured workers is as poisonous as it is pervasive.
Perhaps most fundamentally, ProPublica, bolstered by the imprimatur and audience of NPR, has created a national conversation and awareness of the oppressed plight of injured workers with its feature The Demolition of Workers' Compensation which exposed to the public domain the travesty and arbitrary injustice we slog through on a daily basis.
If we are uncritical we shall always find what we want. -Karl Popper
Continual, constructive self-assessment of our organizational efforts is indispensable to the accomplishment of our mission. Are we really doing the best job possible and are we succeeding to our complete potential?
Governors in the traditionally blue states of California and New York have signed away the long term financial security of millions of families of injured workers while Texas and Oklahoma have essentially jettisoned workers’ compensation benefits, allowing indifferent employers to Bail-Out of their responsibility to provide for the safety and security of working families. Further corporate front group Bail-Out initiatives are fermenting in the legislatures of Arkansas, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming.
In my view, the state workers’ compensation system is in its most dire situation in at least the last half-century. -Prof John F. Burton, Jr.
Professor Burton is clearly referencing only the perspective of the injured worker and not the immense wealth of the $85 billion insurance industry where insurance carriers now earn $6.20 in profits for every $100 of net premiums; and, private employers on average pay only 44 cents per hour for each employee to be provided with coverage.
Empirical evidence reliably demonstrates that each reduction in benefits to an injured workers’ family subsequent to “reform” has not translated into lower premiums for small business but primarily in greater profit for the self-insureds and the insurance industry. From 2007 to 2012, workers’ compensation benefits and costs per $100 of payroll were lower than at any time over the last three decades, while insurance company investment profits in 2011, 2012, and preliminarily for 2013, have topped 14% annually.
According to OSHA, workers’ compensation benefits now cover only 21% of workers’ compensation liabilities--shifting 79% of the true cost to others, including the injured workers’ family and taxpayers--while our firsthand knowledge demonstrates the inadequacy of current benefit levels and the injustice of the AMA Guides, ODG Treatment Guidelines, Primary Cause, Medical Formularies and the literal evaporation of effective vocational rehabilitation for those injured workers who have lost access to their prior occupation.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. -1 Corinthians 15:58
I believe it will be the exponential participation of you, the existing member, which fosters our mission as much as the sheer addition of new members. The existential purpose of the organization must always be vigorous and exigent advocacy, not just growth and the collection plate. We must collect accomplishments, not only numbers.
Together we can do that, but we must have an active outreach program that communicates to the public, to the media and to state legislators the value of workers’ compensation and the cost of its failure. If business can focus-group a new Doritos flavor, I am confident we can use a similar approach identifying crux “reptile” talking points, plus distilling and building upon the points raised in the ProPublica series to focus our messaging.
Won't you please come to Chicago…No one else can take your place. -Graham Nash
We need your participation and inclusive involvement at our annual convention this October in Chicago to help set goals, identify the means of accomplishing them and establish metrics for evaluating our success.
By inaction, we risk losing the battle for the American public's conscious.
I challenge you to come to Chicago and be a part of the process and a contributor to the continued success of WILG. What is YOUR role and mission for the organization?
1997 Interview with Benjamin Marcus, 1st President of NACCA/ATLA
on the history of workers' compensation laws
Watch video on WILG's YouTube Channel
Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.
On Tuesday, 5/5, the Illinois House convened a committee of the whole for a hearing on work comp. An injured worker from Oklahoma, who was featured in a previous ProPublica piece, provided testimony. Here's an article in response to the hearing:
Dr. Joel Morton's WorkCompWire Article
Every day brings another headline about a fatal overdose on painkillers, a celebrity who’s hooked, or a serious crime driven by addiction. Sadly, injured workers are among those addicted. Since 1990, opioid overdose deaths have tripled. It’s easy to blame doctors who prescribe painkillers, but only 17 percent of abused opioids are abused by legitimate patients with legitimate prescriptions. Physicians are doing their best, trying to treat pain without withholding needed medications, but that only helps so much.
Dr. Joel Morton of Summit Pharmacy takes a closer look at the issue and in the following article discusses a few policy changes that could go a long way to stem opioid abuse:
Matthew J. Belcher
Alan S. Pierce
Charles R. Davoli
Baton Rouge, LA
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WILG 40th Anniversary of 1972 WVC Commission Symposium
WILG held a Symposium commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws, on Thursday, July 26, 2012, at the Hilton Chicago Hotel. The National Commission, appointed by the Nixon Administration, issued its report in July 1972, describing the states' workers' compensation laws "in general neither adequate nor equitable," recommending minimal federal standards to cure the deficiency. This led to a decade when most states significantly improved their laws to avoid the federal standards. Since then, however, workers' compensation benefits have been cut back and compensability rules tightened. The program featured a star-studded group of speakers, including 3 Commissioners, who addressed what needs be done to restore the adequacy of workers' compensation programs and how best to get that done.
Contact Juli Gaston at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the symposium materials