Law Updates

Workers’ Compensation Claimant Must Provide Supporting Documentation to Be Entitled to Medical Mileage

D.A.M. Carpentry Corp. v. Scruggs, No. 1614 (Court of Appeals of Maryland, November 21, 2013) | View pdf

(December 3, 2013) Colleen K. O’Brien, Associate.

For more information, contact Paul Farquharson

This appeal involved whether a workers’ compensation claimant could recover medical mileage reimbursement for travel to and from medical appointments even though he failed to document the actual costs of his travel. The workers’ compensation commission ordered the employer/insurer to pay the medical mileage and at the first appeal, the circuit court affirmed. The Court of Special Appeals reversed, however, and determined that the claimant was not entitled to the medical mileage under these circumstances.

The claimant filed a claim for reimbursement with his employer and insurer requesting mileage reimbursement for expenses he incurred traveling to and from medical appointments for treatment related to his work injuries. The medical mileage pertained to several medical appointments that the claimant attended for his alleged injuries between August 3, 2009 and April 11, 2011. The claimant did not drive himself to the appointments; rather, he took either a taxi, bus, Metro, or Metro Access, or his mother drove him. He did not retain any receipts for his travel. He completed a medical mileage form and submitted it to his employer and the insurer. The form required receipts/supporting documents to be included. The claimant filled out the column for round-trip mileage, but he never attached any receipts or supporting documentation. The employer and insurer denied his claim because the claimant failed to document the actual costs of his travel. The workers’ compensation commission held a hearing on the claim denial and ordered that the employer and insurer pay medical mileage. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer and insurer, and affirmed the order of the Commission.

On appeal, the Court looked to Breitenbach v. N.B. Handy Co., 784 A.2d 569, 579 (Md. 2001), which held that although the workers’ compensation statute did not explicitly provide for medical mileage reimbursement, given its remedial nature, the statute should be given liberal construction and workers should recover the costs of travel to and from medical appointments. Even when Breitenbach, however, was considered, there was no reasonable rationale to pay medical mileage to this particular claimant who failed to document his travel expenses, and may not have incurred any travel expenses at all, such as when his mother drove him to doctor’s appointments. Therefore, the claimant was not entitled to medical mileage and the order of the circuit court was reversed.