Friday, August 23, 2013

Court of Appeals case on travel expenses

In a recent case the Colorado Court of Appeals decided in the Winter case to
address mileage and travel expenses. The claimant was from Trinidad but had to travel to Vail for authorized treatment. At first the claimant was advanced the cost of travel, hotel and meals. However after the third visit the insurer advanced only the travel mileage and not hotel or meals. The claimant advised the insurer he could not afford this unless it was advanced. The matter went to a hearing where the judge ruled against the claimant. This was appealed an eventually reached the Court of Appeals. The court affirmed the decision. Prepayment of hotel and meals is not a requirement even where this can lead to a harsh result. The court did note the claimant was able to use a credit card in this case and did get reimbursed within 30 days but suggested the Division of Workers Compensation may wish to address that issue. Usually claimants are treated locally but I have had cases where travel was necessary. Most claimants can use a credit card but some are quite poor. They may not have such a card or other resources so it would be helpful to have the Division address this for those cases as suggested by the court. Many times the benefits provided in a workers compensation case are barely enough to cover living expenses and asking the claimant to pay travel expenses and wait for reimbursement is expecting a lot. Anyway this case reviews all this and the court decision is the current law on the subject.