Page v. Southern Care

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama

219 So.3d 660 | Sept. 16, 2016


APPELLATE COURT DETERMINES PLAINITFF’S MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE ALABAMA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACT MUST BE REASONABLE AND NECESSARY

Plaintiff was injured in a work-related accident and settled a claim for workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act that left open her right to future medical benefits. Plaintiff thereafter took a job with a different employer that required her to work out-of-state. However, plaintiff returned to her home in Gadsden, Alabama every weekend.

Plaintiff’s authorized treating physician was in Hoover, Alabama and her pharmacy was near her home in Hope’s Bluff, Alabama. Plaintiff’s appeal arises from a dispute over mileage reimbursement benefits. Plaintiff submitted for reimbursement 13,912 miles of travel, which was accrued by measuring her travel distance commencing from her out-of-state employment. Had she measured her trips from her home in Gadsden, Alabama, she would have accrued only 985 miles. The trial court awarded reimbursement based on her trips as if they had commenced from her home in Gadsden, Alabama, and not her actual mileage from her out-of-state worksites.

The Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act is not specific on where an injured worker must commence travel to a treating physician. However, the Alabama Workers’ Compensation act does include language that the employer is only required to pay for medical treatment that is reasonable and necessary. The Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama construed the legislative intent of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act to include a reasonable and necessary element to the mileage reimbursement provision. Plaintiff’s treating physician and pharmacy were selected due to the proximity to her home in Gadsden, Alabama. Plaintiff never requested a new treating physician or pharmacy near her out-of-state work locations. Plaintiff traveled home every weekend anyway, and the Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama agreed with the trial court that the excessive travel for medical treatment providers was neither reasonable nor necessary. Judgment was affirmed.

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