A common question we get, especially from callers who are downstate or in more rural parts of Illinois is, “Should the insurance company pay me for mileage expense for going to and from the doctor?”
It’s a good question and it makes sense because if it wasn’t for the work related injury you wouldn’t have this additional expense.
Generally speaking though, you don ‘t get reimbursed for your gas expense for going to and from your doctor for an Illinois workers’ compensation claim. But like with many “generally speaking” rules, there are exceptions.
There is an exception if your employer is directing your medical care. If you are going to a doctor of their choosing for an independent medical exam, not only do they have to pay you for your travel costs, they have to do so in advance and if they don’t, you do not have to go to the exam.
The more important scenario though is when you have to travel a great distance to see a doctor of your choosing. To get compensated for mileage, you have to show that it’s “reasonably necessary” for you to travel outside your area to see a medical specialist who can help with your problem. In other words, if you live in Chicago and have the choice of hundreds of doctors, it’s not reasonable for you to go to Rockford or Peoria to see a doctor. You can do it and while the insurance company would have to pay your medical bills, they wouldn’t have to pay your travel costs.
On the other hand, if you live in Carbondale or Quincy or somewhere more remote and there isn’t a neurologist or pain management specialist or some other sort of needed doctor in your area, if you choose to drive to Springfield or St. Louis or some other area for treatment, it would likely be seen as reasonable and you should certainly fight for mileage reimbursement. We’d certainly do that for you because it can add up to a lot of money over time.
There’s one more exception that isn’t as obvious, but came up in a case which was decided in favor of the injured worker. He was living in Mt. Vernon, but had always treated with a physician who was located in Wood River, Illinois which is just outside of St. Louis. That was approximately 90 miles away from his home. While there were other doctors in his area, he had been with this one for over seven years so the Court felt that it was reasonable for him to continue to go to this doctor after the work injury and awarded more than $1,500.00 in travel costs.
If you take anything away from this post it should be that it doesn’t hurt to ask and that every case is different so don’t just accept it if someone tells you that the law in every case is one thing. That’s often not true and your unique situation should be looked at. If you’d like us to do that for you, get in touch any time for a free consultation.