Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides financial benefits to workers who are injured on the job. The most common benefits include: medical expenses, wage loss benefits, and death benefits.
One of the most frustrating aspects of a work injury is that you spend a lot of time traveling to and from doctor’s appointments. What’s more, because you’re required to select a treating physician from a list of pre-approved doctors supplied by your employer, there’s no guarantee that the appointments will be close to where you live.
Fortunately, Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws allow injured workers to recover certain expenses associated with necessary travel.
Which travel expenses are reimbursed in Georgia?
Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws allow you to be reimbursed for the “reasonable cost” of travel between your home and the place of examination or treatment.
Costs that can be reimbursed include (but are not limited to) the following:
- You can be reimbursed $0.40 per mile traveled. This reimbursement is intended to help with the cost of gas and the wear and tear on your vehicle. Due to fluctuations in fuel price, the amount per mile is subject to change at the discretion of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The mileage rate was a mere $0.25 in 2000, for example.
- If your appointment is longer than four hours or is located outside of your home city, you can be reimbursed for the cost of your meals. There is, however, a cap of $30 per day.
- If your appointment is located beyond your home city, you can be reimbursed for the cost of lodging. There is, however, a cap of $80 per day.
Although the costs above are explicitly listed in the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Rules and Regulations, you can be reimbursed for other reasonable travel expenses, such as parking fees, toll fees, and the cost of public transportation.
There are two general exceptions to the travel reimbursement rule:
- Unauthorized treatment. Workers’ compensation only pays for authorized treatment and the associated costs. If you receive unauthorized treatment (for example, treatment from your personal doctor), you will not be reimbursed for the care or the associated travel costs.
- Independent medical examinations. An independent medical examination is a medical examination requested by your workers’ compensation insurer. Insurers are required to pay you for the mileage and related travel expenses before the independent medical examination occurs, so, technically speaking, you won’t be reimbursed for these expenses.
Documenting your workers’ compensation travel expenses
It’s imperative that you document ALL of your travel expenses associated with your treatment following a workplace injury.
There is no official form that you’re required to use to document your travel expenses, but the Georgia Department of Administrative Services provides a form you can use to at least keep track of your mileage (we recommend using Google Maps to calculate your total miles traveled).
Alternatively, you can contact Gerber & Holder, and we’ll provide you with a free form you can use to track ALL of your workers’ compensation travel expenses.
Don’t think these costs are worth the effort of keeping track? Consider the following scenario:
Jay injures his back while driving a company truck. He lives in Blackshear and needs to undergo back surgery at the hands of a specialist in Statesboro. He arrives at the specialist and pays $8 to park in the closest lot. When the four-hour surgery is complete, he grabs lunch and heads home.
In the above scenario, Jay is entitled to the following costs:
Mileage (184 miles round trip) = $73.60
Parking = $8
Lunch = $30
Total = $111.60
When you’re hurt and out of work, an extra $111.60 in your pocket makes a big difference.
How do I get reimbursed for mileage and other travel expenses in Georgia?
To get reimbursement for your travel expenses, you must submit itemized documentation and receipts showing the expenses incurred to your workers’ compensation insurer.
As is the case with filing a lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim, you only have a certain amount of time to submit the reimbursement request. Specifically, you have one year from the date the treatment took place to submit the request. If you fail to submit the request within this time period, you will NOT be reimbursed.
Your workers’ compensation insurer has 15 days from the date it receives your request to provide reimbursement. If the insurer doesn’t provide reimbursement within this time period, the insurer may be forced to pay you a penalty.
What happens if my claim for reimbursement is denied?
Most claims for reimbursement are denied for one of two reasons:
- The medical appointment was not authorized, or
- The injured worker failed to include receipts or other necessary information to support the reimbursement request
If your reimbursement claim was denied, talk to the insurer to find out if there’s additional information you can submit to get the claim approved. Oftentimes, the insurer will just need something simple, such as a receipt or the address of your appointment.
If the insurer continues to deny a rightful reimbursement claim, consider reaching out to an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney.