You are entitled to receive monetary reimbursement for travel-related expenses to your medical appointments, including costs for mileage, tolls, and parking fees. Additionally, there are other reimbursements that you may be entitled to receive, depending upon the particulars of your workers’ compensation case.
Benefits After a Workplace Injury
It is not your fault that you were injured on the job. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system aimed at providing quick recovery from your workplace injury to facilitate your efficient return to work. Our workers’ compensation laws strive to put you in the same position that you would have been in had you never been injured on the job. Besides providing necessary medical treatment, the law requires that you receive money benefits to ensure that it will not cost you your own personal expenses related to your workplace injury claim. The laws provide that you can receive worker’s compensation benefits for payment of your medical bills, payment for replacement wages, and payment for your permanent injuries.
In addition to these most basic benefits, the workers’ compensation system provides reimbursement for three expenses that you may experience: (a) travel expenses, (b) prescription expenses, and (c) reimbursement for lost time from work. Again, the idea is that you will be in the same place that you would have been had you never been injured on the job. Of these three, travel-related expenses are the expenses that you will have to keep track of and for which you are mainly responsible for providing necessary information so that your reimbursement claim can be paid.
Travel For Treatment
Your employer, or more likely its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, must pay for transportation for you, the injured employee, to go to, and return home from, your medical appointments. This includes all manner of medical care and treatment, testing, or examination. If medically necessary because of the extent of your injuries and your physical limitations, your employer must pay for an ambulance or private medical taxi to and from your appointment. For example, in a workers’ compensation injury where you sustained a devastating injury to your pelvis, including a fractured hip, and you were left (at least temporarily) unable to walk, your employer must provide ambulance services to and from your medical appointments.
In the more routine situation, where you are either able to drive yourself or can obtain a ride from a friend to your medical appointment, your employer must reimburse you for your travel-related expenses. If you use a private motor vehicle (your own car, etc.) to travel to and from your medical appointment, your employer must reimburse you for your travel-related expenses at the federal mileage reimbursement rate. This rate, set by the federal government, is determined by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). For 2022, this rate is 58.5 cents per mile in reimbursement. You may have to travel to several medical appointments each week. Given the current high cost of gas, this reimbursement benefit can really add up and can provide you with some needed financial relief.
Keeping and Submitting Records
In practice, you should keep a record of every visit you make for medical appointments. We suggest that you keep a record of every date, location, mileage, parking fees (if any), and tolls paid (if any) for each of your medical visits. Keep your receipts. Your medical appointments include all your doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, testing, and examinations. If you are forced to travel for a medically related appointment, you should include it within your record. You are not permitted to include expenses for visits with your attorney to discuss your case or expenses for appearances for your workers’ compensation hearings. This benefit is only intended to reimburse you for expenses related to your medical appointments.
We suggest that you submit your records for travel expenses monthly. This will keep your employer’s insurance carrier accountable to you, and it will increase the likelihood that you will not forget to include every date. There is an official approved form for submission of travel expense reimbursement. It is referred to as the “Mileage Worksheet for Medical Treatment,” and it is available on the state’s workers’ compensation website. To complete the form, you will need to provide some identifying information about your claim (name, date of injury, claim number, and employer name), and then you will need to provide information about each of your medical appointments. Complete this form and send it to your employer’s insurance carrier. They will reimburse you directly, within a reasonable time, for your travel-related expenses.
Again, we strongly recommend that you submit your travel expense reimbursement each month. By staying on top of this reimbursement benefit, you will minimize the risk that your employer will challenge your claimed expenses.