The Workers Compensation Research Institute recently published a multi-year case study which examined a variety of case-related factors, as reported by injured workers, including Return to Work, Earnings Recovery, Access to Medical Care, and Recovery of Physical Health.  Injured workers from 15 States, including Virginia, were polled and their responses were compiled and presented through a State-by-State comparison.  Overall, Virginia fell near the middle of the pack and a brief summary of the results are presented below.  While reading through this case study, the reader should keep in mind that there are not only differences between the States, but also from within States – something this study does not touch on.  For example, in Virginia the cost of care is much higher in the northern reaches as one travels closer to Washington, D.C. and are substantially less as one studies the mountainous regions in the west and south.  Of course, this study is meant to paint a broad, interstate picture of the Workers’ Compensation system and, to that, it does very good job.  While Virginia’s system is not the best, being near the average is nothing to be ashamed about.  It should be clear that improvement can be made and, here at Industrial Health, we strive to continually provide high standards of care that surpass our competition.  Our goal is provide safe, quality physical rehabilitation to injured workers – most of whom want to get back to doing their job.  For those few who burden this great system by malingering, we make great efforts to cleanse the Workers’ Comp system of these cases.  This ultimately helps to keep costs low and injured worker satisfaction high.


Virginia workers reported outcomes that were often in the middle of the range of outcomes observed in other study states.

Recovery of physical health and functioning: We found that the average recovery of physical health and functioning was similar across the 15 states in our study.

     Return to work: Injured workers in Virginia reported rates of return to work in the middle of the range of the study states. Thirteen percent of Virginia workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never having a return to work that lasted at least one month predominantly due to the injury as of three years postinjury, and 16 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury. In the median state, these figures were 14 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Note that 15 percent of Virginia workers responded that they had a second absence from work due to the same injury—a rate that was in the middle of the range of states. The number of workers who responded that they returned to work too soon was also similar to the median study state.5

The median Virginia worker had substantial return to work about 11 weeks after the injury. This measure was in the middle of the range of study states.

Earnings recovery:6 Seven percent of injured workers in Virginia reported earning “a lot less” at the time of substantial return to work compared with the time of the injury. This was similar to what we observed in the median of the study states (8 percent).

     Access to care: Sixteen percent of injured workers in Virginia reported that they had “big problems” getting the services that they or their provider wanted. This was similar to what we observed in a typical study state. Thirteen percent of Virginia workers reported “big problems” getting the primary provider that they wanted. This was also similar to the median state, but somewhat lower than two states and lower than five other states in our report.

     Satisfaction with care: About three out of four Virginia workers said that they were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with their overall workers’ compensation medical care (78 percent). However, 14 percent said that they were “very dissatisfied.” This was in the middle of the range of states in our analysis.

*Source:  Workers Compensation Research Institute, May 2016,


Written by Industrial Health, a specialized Workers’ Compensation therapy center which services Northern Virginia , Sterling , Loudoun , Fairfax , Dulles , Chantilly , Leesburg , Ashburn , Herndon , Reston , Centreville ; and offers programs including Physical Therapy , Functional Capacity Evaluations ( FCE ) , Work Hardening , Work Conditioning , Work Simulation , Impairment Rating , Permanent Partial Disability Rating , Injury Prevention Programs

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