Coronavirus and Reasonable Transportation Costs (California)

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Coronavirus and Reasonable Transportation Costs (California)

Postby psingh123 on Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:45 am

I have a strange coronavirus problem:

Applicant must travel 1800 miles for AME appointment. Employer agreed to fly them to the appointment etc.

Applicant wants to cancel plane tickets due to fear of the coronavirus.

Instead, applicants wants to drive and be reimbursed for the gas mileage.

Question: Is this a "reasonable expense of transportation... incident to report for the examination."

If anyone could point me in the right direction, it would be much appreciated. Thanks!
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Re: Coronavirus and Reasonable Transportation Costs (California)

Postby jpod on Fri Mar 06, 2020 1:02 pm

I will let the lawyers provide the case law; but here is the LC section:

[quote[/quote](e) (1) When at the request of the employer, the employer’s insurer, the administrative director, the appeals board, or a workers’ compensation administrative law judge, the employee submits to examination by a physician, the employee is entitled to receive, in addition to all other benefits herein provided, all reasonable expenses of transportation, meals, and lodging incident to reporting for the examination, together with one day of temporary disability indemnity for each day of wages lost in submitting to the examination.[quote][/quote]

The question I would be focused on is: what is it worth to me to ensure the employee shows for the exam? That seems to be the primary goal. The request is not unreasonable so I would think reasonable minds could come to an agreement.

1800 times .55 cents a mile (or whatever the current rate is) is $990. Not sure if $1800 is the round trip miles. There would be meals and lodging too but perhaps the EE would compromise based on the cost variance between flying and driving.

There is a risk management issue though which is: what if the employee gets in an accident (Of course what if the EE contracts Covid-19 on the plane?) - the former injuries generally would be considered a compensable consequence absent unique circumstances. There was a case where the employee was in Arizona (not at home) when she traveled to the exam. Pretty certain the court ruled the carrier owed the mileage from the employee's home to the exam, not from Arizona to the exam, as that was found to be unreasonable. I think the employee did get in an accident which was ruled not a compensable consequence since she didn't travel from home and it was unreasonable to make the employer liable for the increased risk created by the ee's decision to travel from Arizona. That would seem to not apply in your scenario.

I'd agree to pay mileage and come to some sort of compromise on the hotel and meal costs due to the longer duration of the trip.
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