In an age of astronomical gas prices, mileage reimbursement to an injured worker is an important issue in any Illinois workers’ compensation claim.
When I started practicing Illinois workers’ compensation law clients never made inquires concerning reimbursement for mileage to and from their own doctor or physical therapist. In 2008, with the price of a gallon of gas approaching $4, the question comes to me every week.
An employer may request that an injured employee attend a medical examination with a doctor chosen by the employer, or IME, as it is commonly known. In that situation, the employer is required to pay the employee money to defray the necessary expense of travel to the exam.
The question of whether an employer must pay mileage expenses for travel to one’s own doctor requires a deeper analysis of the facts. The Illinois Appellate Court upheld an award of treatment related mileage after the injured employee was able to prove that it was reasonably necessary for him to travel 90 to 100 miles from his home in order to see his longtime treating doctor. More recently the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed an award of mileage despite the fact that the injured workers’ treating physician was located 20 miles from his home and he traveled a total of 1,180 miles during the course of his treatment.
Injured workers who are receiving benefits are required to survive on 2/3 of their average weekly wage. With the price of gas on the rise, trips to and from a doctor or physical therapist can add to an already strained budget. When confronted with the question of whether money for treatment-related mileage is due it is important to have an attorney review a number of factors such as distance to the medical provider, specialty of the care and availability of alternative medical care.