10-18% of Injured Workers across 15 States Never Reached Substantial Return to Work, Finds New WCRI Research

Six new state studies published today by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) compare outcomes of injured workers in Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin and nine other states. The outcomes examined include recovery of physical health and functioning, return to work, earnings recovery, access to medical care, and satisfaction with medical care. 

“By examining outcomes of injured workers, policymakers and other stakeholders can better understand how different state workers’ compensation systems compare in order to identify and prioritize opportunities to improve system performance,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and in-house counsel.

The research, Comparing Outcomes for Injured Workers, 2016 Interviews, is a product of an ongoing, multiyear effort by WCRI to collect and examine data on the outcomes of medical care achieved by injured workers in a growing number of states. Interviews were conducted in six of the states (Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin) in 2016. Interviews for all other states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee) were conducted from 2013 to 2015.

Below is a sample of the findings from the six individual state studies released today comparing return to work across 15 states.


  • Indiana: Ten percent of Indiana workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period predominantly due to the injury as of three years postinjury, and 11 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury. These rates were somewhat lower than in many study states.
  • Virginia: Fourteen percent of…

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