Pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 2322 (g), a claimant is entitled to mileage reimbursement in an amount equal to the state-specified mileage allowance for travel relating to medical treatment.
In Failing v. Delaware, 2019 WL 1005850 (Del. Super. Ct. Feb. 25, 2019), the claimant sought reimbursement for travel expenses totaling $875.95. The demand included $761.20 for mileage and $114.75 for tolls and parking.
The claimant argued the Workers’ Compensation Act implicitly allows for reimbursement of travel expenses beyond mileage for medical appointments. She cited in support of her argument that reimbursement for travel to a Defense Medical Evaluation includes language of “reasonable traveling expenses” after the first examination and payment of board, lodging, and travel for vocational rehabilitation services that require a claimant to stay away from his/her residence. In reading the act as a whole, the claimant advanced the theory that mileage reimbursement actually means all reasonable expenses incurred while traveling for medical treatment.
The Superior Court found Section 2322(g) only allows for reimbursement of mileage. The court opined the references to “travel expenses” in other sections of the Workers’ Compensation Act did not apply to mileage reimbursement. The court found additional travel expenses beyond mileage limited to employee-initiated activities; i.e., a Defense Medical Evaluation or vocational rehabilitation. The court concluded that mileage reimbursement and travel expenses are not synonymous.
The important takeaway is that demand for medical mileage reimbursement should be carefully reviewed and reduced by any items other than mileage. This case can and should be cited in response to any such demand as it is binding upon the Industrial Accident Board. It should also be noted that mileage in Delaware is reimbursed at the state rate of $0.40 per mile rather than the current federal rate of $0.58.
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