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California’s workers’ compensation laws serve to protect employees in the event of workplace injuries and accidents. Workers’ comp mandates that an employer’s insurance company must pay for an injured worker’s medical costs and other expenses related to the injury, as long as the worker sustained the injury during work-related tasks. One type of reimbursement an injured worker may receive in California is repayment for medical mileage.
‘Medical mileage’ refers to travel costs related to a worker’s injuries. Medical mileage includes transportation expenses to and from doctor’s offices, physical rehabilitation centers, and the pharmacy. These expenses may include the costs of gas, public transportation fares, parking fees, bridge tolls, and vehicle wear and tear. The state of California has a comparatively lenient medical mileage policy compared to other states, allowing workers to get reimbursed for any miles driven for reasonably necessary treatment of injuries.
While medical mileage reimbursement can serve to help an injured worker pay for his or her medical treatment, California workers’ compensation laws do not cover the full cost of the mileage. Instead, workers receive a portion of the cost per mile traveled. Some states adopt the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage rate, which in 2015 stood at 57.5 cents per mile. Other states, including California, set their own mileage rates. The mileage rate has changed year by year in California, ranging from a low of $0.445 in 2006 to a high of $0.575 in 2015.
Medical mileage compensation in California dropped in 2016 from $0.575 to $0.54 – the lowest it had been since 2011. This year, workers can expect yet another drop that began on January 1, 2017. The medical mileage reimbursement rate in CA now stands at 53.5 cents per mile. If you suffered your workplace injury and paid for transportation for medical treatment in previous year, your reimbursement rate will be that of the year of your expenses. For example, if you are seeking medical mileage compensation for driving to your doctor’s office in 2015, workers’ comp would cover your mileage at $0.575 per mile, not the current rate of $0.535.
Employees receiving workers’ compensation for a workplace injury in California are likely entitled to medical mileage reimbursement. This is the case if workers have to travel to and from doctors’ offices, insurance companies, therapists, or other places for approved treatment for their workplace-related injuries. To receive medical mileage compensation, you must keep track of all travel expenses relating to your injury treatment. Keep all receipts for these expenses and make copies of them for your own personal records. Then, fill out the California medical mileage expense form.
The expense form asks for the date of travel, where you traveled from, where you traveled to, round trip mileage, parking costs, and toll fees. You must include the name and address of the treatment center you visited. Keep this sheet and continue to update it for the duration of your medical treatment. Once you have fully recovered from your workplace injury, submit the completed form with your receipts attached to the insurance company. If you have long-lasting medical expenses, submit a form every 90 days during treatment. The company will pay your medical mileage reimbursement within 60 days of your submission of the form. If you do not receive your payment within 60 days, contact the insurance company.
Medical mileage reimbursement is your right as an injured worker in California. Despite decreasing rates of repayment per mile in recent years, injured workers can still receive more than half of their travel and related costs back. If you’re facing a claim denial, workers’ compensation retaliation, or another such issue, contact our team of workers’ compensation attorneys for legal help today.