eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – November 2022 – Virginia
November 30, 2022
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
Virginia Case Summary
Medical Management Intl. v. Jeffry
Virginia Court of Appeals
Decided: November 1, 2022
A Carrier must reimburse out-of-pocket costs for Uber rides to medical appointments, even when Claimant did not inform the Carrier she would be using Uber, depriving them the opportunity of using a cheaper transportation service.
Claimant suffered a compensable injury while working for her employer. Most of the time, Claimant would have her husband or a family member drive her to medical appointments. But when she could not find a ride, she would use Uber as a last resort. She used Uber for 44 visits, totaling $881.47. The Employer did not receive the transportation bills, and did not know the cost of transportation.
The Employer did not argue the charges were unreasonable or excessive. Rather, they argued they were not obligated to pay because they did not receive notice. The Deputy Commissioner denied the full Uber charges, instead awarding a reimbursement of the standard rate per mile, totaling $139.83. The Full Commission reversed, holding that lack of notice alone is not fatal to a claim for transportation costs. Claimant appealed to the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals affirmed, on different grounds. The Court instead found nothing in the Act requiring advance notice at all as a prerequisite for reimbursement. Implying a requirement would be inconsistent with the remedial purpose of the Act. The General Assembly provided notice requirements in other sections, like giving notice of the accident itself. Therefore, since the transportation reimbursement provisions of 65.2-603 do not contain an explicit requirement for notice, no notice is necessary.
When a Claimant begins seeking medical treatment, it is imperative you make clear that the carrier will provide transportation services. This will hopefully avoid this situation entirely. However, if you do see a Claimant who runs up transportation costs, you must argue that the total sums themselves are unreasonable, not that the Claimant did anything wrong procedurally.
Any questions regarding this case can be addressed to Mike Bliley at 571.464.0435 or email@example.com.