After a work injury, your company and their insurer are required to compensate you for all medical expenses, but there are more medical costs that just the bill you receive from your physician. Minnesota has a couple different ways in which they offer compensation for these medical expenses, and they may be available to more than just the injured worker. We explain who is eligible to be reimbursed for medical travel expenses and how to collect reimbursement in this blog.
Reimbursement For Medical-Related Travel Expenses
Minnesota law states that an injured employee is eligible for reimbursement of medical mileage when an employee drives themselves to necessary medical care after a work injury. The law says that compensation for travel will either be equal to the rate at which they receive from their employer for travel expenses or whatever is granted under state law, whatever is lower.
For the 2018 year, Minnesota grants 54.5 cents per mile. So if you are able to drive yourself to your medical appointments, be it to doctor visits, physical therapy sessions or other rehab appointments, log your mileage and give them to your lawyer so they can ensure you’re compensated for your travel. However, what happens if you suffered a broken leg or another severe injury that prevents you from being able to drive yourself to your appointment?
Compensation For Rides To Medical Appointments
As the law stands, employers are required to cover the cost of reasonable transportation to medical appointments in the event that the employee cannot transport themselves. This means that you can be reimbursed if you take a taxi, Uber or other medical transportation service to get to your medical appointments. To ensure you get compensated, save your receipts and turn them into your lawyer or file them with your employer’s insurer. They are then required to compensate you within 30 days.
Interestingly, your spouse, significant other or a friend may also be eligible for travel costs if they drive you to medical appointments. The precedent was set back in 2013 in the case of Kuhnau v. Manpower, Inc. In that case, Kuhnau, the injured worker, was unable to drive himself to his medical appointments due to the work injury. His wife drove him to the appointments, and they filed for reimbursement not only for mileage, but also for the value of the spouse’s time.
The court originally ruled that although the wife was providing a “necessary” service by driving her husband to medical appointments, she was only eligible for mileage reimbursement, not for time spent on these trips. However, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals reversed the original ruling, saying the the wife was providing a service “incidental to the required medical treatment, itself and if an employer would be liable for the cost of medical or other transport without such help, there is no basis for denying a reasonable fee to the spouse.”
In other words, the WCCA felt that being driven by a family member or friend was likely to be less expensive than taking a taxi or an Uber, so they ruled that there was no basis for denying a reasonable sum for the driver’s time as well as their mileage. There is no set amount for what is considered reasonable compensation for a person’s time, so log your mileage and time spent on the trip if you are being driven by someone else and give these numbers to your lawyer. They will be able to pour over previous rulings and come up with an appropriate sum to seek.
For more information about getting reimbursement for medical mileage expenses after a work injury, reach out to Dean Margolis and his team today.
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