There is nothing straight-forward and easy when it comes to Indiana Worker’s Compensation Law. One exception (mostly) is the concept of mileage. For Indiana Worker’s Comp cases, injured workers are entitled to mileage payments under certain criteria.
When Indiana Workers are Entitled to Mileage Payments
Whether or not you’re entitled to mileage payments depends on two things: (1) where you work, and (2) where your medical care takes place. The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act states:
If the employee is requested or required by the employer to submit to treatment outside the county of employment, the employer shall also pay the reasonable expense of travel, food, and lodging necessary during the travel.
Where you live does not matter. So, if you work in one county, and have to leave that county to see your designated worker’s comp doctor, the worker’s compensation insurance company owes you mileage payments if you drive your own vehicle (food and lodging expenses apply in very rare circumstances – someday we’ll have a blog post about that too!). I have a lot of clients who live in Gibson, Posey and Spencer Counties. They frequently will be asked to travel to Evansville or Newburgh to see doctors there. As the statute says, these injured workers are entitled to be reimbursed for their round-trip mileage. I tell clients in this situation to keep a notebook and log their starting and ending mileage for each trip. Every month or so, we will compile the mileage, prepare a chart, and submit it to the worker’s compensation insurance company for payment.
There is a second section of Indiana Worker’s Comp law that discusses mileage. In some cases, the employer may require you to see a “second opinion” doctor. If that happens, the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act requires the worker’s comp insurance company to “defray the necessary expenses of travel,” including mileage payments. This is a different type of medical exam than described above, and in this situation the statute does not limit mileage payments to travel outside the county of employment. It’s a minor detail, I know, but considering the treatment my clients often deal with at the hands of worker’s compensation insurance companies, they should insist on payment, even if it’s just a few miles.
One bit of bad news, though. If you were injured in Indiana, but moved to another state for whatever reason, your entitlement to mileage for these “second opinion” exams is limited to mileage payments from the nearest border to the place of examination. So, if you’ve moved to Florida, worker’s comp doesn’t have to buy you a plane ticket.
What if I don’t Have a Car or Can’t Drive?
Although the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act does not specifically say so, it has been the practice and the policy of the worker’s compensation insurance companies and the Worker’s Comp Board to provide transportation (such as a taxi or some other ride service) for injured employees who cannot drive for one reason or another. In particular, if you suffer a catastrophic injury that prevents you from even riding in an ordinary car, the worker’s comp insurance company is required to make special transportation arrangements. If you simply do not have reliable transportation for trips outside the county, you should be able to ask the worker’s comp insurance company to provide transportation. Again, this only happens if you have to leave the county of employment – it’s unlikely worker’s comp will pay to drive you inside the county.
What is the Mileage Reimbursement Rate?
The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act bases the mileage rate on what the State of Indiana pays to its employees who have to travel. It fluctuates over time. As of June 25, 2020, the reimbursement rate is $.38 per mile. Since it may change by the time you read this, the Indiana Worker’s Comp Board publishes the current reimbursement rate here.
Watch Out for Worker’s Comp Insurance Companies
Indiana worker’s comp law is frequently confusing. But it is actually quite clear when it comes to mileage payments. That is why, as a worker’s compensation lawyer, it frustrates me to no end that many worker’s compensation insurance companies ignore the obligation. They all know it’s owed, but they hope you never find out you should be receiving mileage payments. If you suffered a work injury, travelled outside the county of employment for medical care, and didn’t receive mileage payments, you are dealing with an insurance company that may withhold other valuable information about your worker’s comp case. Hewins Law Firm represents injured employees, and we can make sure you receive all the benefits – no matter how small – you are entitled to under Indiana law.
You’re always welcome to call our office with questions. The initial consultation is always free.