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Medical Mileage in Maryland Workers’ Compensation Cases

silhouette-car-1426855-mIn Maryland workers’ compensation cases, mileage reimbursement may be awarded to a claimant who needs to make visits to the hospital. In a recent case, an insurer and an employer appealed summary judgment in favor of an employee who claimed medical mileage in his workers’ compensation case.

The employee had gotten hurt while helping coworkers lift a wall on a construction job where he was a foreman. He suffered neck and back pain and required medical treatment. He went to several medical appointments in a two-year period, taking a taxi or public transportation each time. He didn’t keep any receipts.

Nonetheless, his lawyer gave him a form to ask for reimbursement.  He submitted the form without the receipts. In the round trip mileage column, he simply filled out the number of miles. The insurer and employer refused to reimburse the mileage because he had not receipts for the actual cost.

The employee filed the disputed issue with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission ordered the employer and insurer to pay the medical mileage. They filed for review by a Maryland Circuit Court. Both the insurer and the employee filed a motion for summary judgment.

A hearing was held during which the employee testified he couldn’t remember his mode of transportation at each appointment, but did remember that he didn’t drive to any of them. He also stated that he didn’t want reimbursement of his actual travel cost, but just for the miles traveled based on the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s prevailing rate for mileage.

The Circuit Court granted the motion in favor of the employee. An earlier case had held that the statute didn’t expressly provide for medical reimbursement, but rather the statute was to be interpreted liberally. The court found that it was not disputed that the employee had traveled to get medical treatment and therefore, the employee was entitled to reimbursement based on miles traveled at the prevailing rate.

The insurer and employer appealed. On appeal, they argued the employee needed to produce evidence to support the reimbursement claim. They cited cases from other jurisdictions in which judges did not award compensation unless the employee presented evidence of expenses. They also argued that the miles traveled would not necessarily be the correct rate for reimbursement.

The worker argued that the mode of travel and actual costs were irrelevant because the reimbursement scheme was based on miles traveled. He also argued he would be entitled to expenses over the rate if he traveled by air or rental car, contrary to the arguments of the insurer and employer, and that he would be entitled to be reimbursed even if he walked.

The appellate court explained that an employee is to be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary transportation expenses. It would not hold that the mileage rate was unequivocally the applicable measurement for reimbursement. Rather, it ruled that a claimant must document travel or retain receipts of his travel expenses in order to obtain medical mileage reimbursement. The claimant in the case was not awarded medical mileage reimbursement.

If you have been hurt at work, you should report the injury to your employer and consult with an experienced Maryland workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Contact the attorneys of Steinhardt, Siskind and Associates at (866) 902-4111 or via our online form.

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