Workers who are injured on the job may need to travel long distances to receive specialized care or take recurring trips to see nearby medical professionals. While many employees pay for these expenses out-of-pocket, they are actually eligible for reimbursement under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Section 8(a) of the Act states that an employer is required to pay mileage costs on behalf of an injured employee, and may have to pay additional travel expenses as well.
Workers' Compensation Payments for Work Injury Travel Expenses
Although mileage reimbursement is allowed under workers’ compensation, employees may have some difficulty collecting payment. The mileage rate is typically below a dollar per mile, making mileage negligible if a patient sees a doctor near his or her home. Employees will also have to show that each visit for which mileage is claimed is reasonably necessary for the treatment of the injury. An insurer can also deny payment for travel costs if you choose to travel outside your area for medical care while there are specialists nearby who can treat your condition.
That said, an employer may be held liable for the costs of travel to:
- Independent medical exams. An independent medical exam (IME) is an examination requested by the insurance company and performed by a doctor other than the patient’s treating physician. Since the insurer requires you to attend these examinations and chooses the location, they are required to pay for your travel costs, usually in advance.
- Specialists. While a patient may be able to choose a work injury doctor nearby for initial treatment, it may be more difficult to find someone who specializes in your particular injury close to your home. If your condition requires surgery, pain management, or other specialist care, you may be reimbursed for the costs of traveling long distances to get the care you need.
- Vocational rehabilitation. In addition to mileage for medical appointments, employees may also collect reimbursement for travel related to vocational rehabilitation. If you have suffered an injury that has placed limitations on the activities you were able to do prior to your injury, your employer may be obligated to pay for you to go back to school, attend job counseling sessions, enroll in certification programs spanning several weeks, and other vocational retraining.
In order to qualify for mileage and other travel reimbursement, it is vital for you to keep detailed records of your travel, such as plane and train tickets, gas receipts, and dates and times of your medical appointments. If you were injured the job, we can help you determine whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Contact Tapella & Eberspacher today at (217) 394-5885 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation and learn your next steps at no cost to you.