Effective January 12, 2009, the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations amended Administrative Code § 480-5-5-.36. This section sets time limits associated with an employee filing incurred expense claims. Employers must pay reasonable charges for an employee’s necessary board, lodging, and travel, if vocational rehabilitation requires residence at or near a facility away from the employee’s customary residence. Employers must also pay mileage costs to and from medical and rehabilitation providers. However, the employee’s incurred expense claims are limited in some respects.
All mileage submissions are subject to verification. An employee may not claim mileage to a medical provider or rehabilitation site that is incurred in travel between the claimant’s work location and normal residence. Additionally, mileage to drop off a prescription and return mileage to pickup a prescription shall not both be reimbursable. Only one round trip is reimbursable. Lastly, an employee may not file a claim for reimbursement for over the counter medications (i.e., Advil, Tylenol, etc.) that may also be used by an employee’s family members. The employee has one year from the date of a valid incurred expense to file the claim with the employer/agent.
Of great importance, an employer must notify an injured employee in writing that he is entitled to reimbursement for expenses as outlined in Alabama Code § 25-5-77 (c) and (f). The written notice must be sent within two weeks of acceptance of the claim as a compensable work-related injury. Otherwise, the employer may waive its right to challenge the employee's expense claims.
In order to comply with the notification requirement, you should send all claimants (even med only) a copy of Administrative Code § 480-5-5-.36 immediately upon acceptance of the workers’ compensation claim. You should send it via certified mail, via e-mail with a "read receipt", or have the claimant sign an acknowledgment of receipt. You can access Administrative Code § 480-5-5-.36 at the following link: http://dir.alabama.gov/docs/law/wc_480-5-5-.36.pdf.