Officer Not Entitled To Workers’ Comp Reimbursement For Travel Expenses

A police officer working for the Town of Falmouth, Massachusetts suffered a work-related injury in 2004. The injury required four separate surgeries, and the officer was unable to return to work until May 2007.

Over the time of his injury, the officer logged 5,397 miles on his personal vehicle going to and from doctors’ appointments. Together with tolls and parking charges, the officer’s total travel expenses were $2,710.

The Falmouth Police Federation filed a grievance challenging the City’s refusal to reimburse the officer for his travel costs. An arbitrator denied the grievance. While the Arbitrator acknowledged that state law required that workers’ compensation payments include “hospital and medical-related expenses,” the Arbitrator declined to give an expansive reading to those phrases to include travel costs: “While it is certainly possible that the words ‘related expenses’ as set forth in the statute could be interpreted to include travel expenses such as mileage, tolls and parking, unless and until there is a court decision which interprets those words as the Legislature’s intent to indemnify injured police officers for their out-of-pocket travel expenses incurred as they sought fully indemnified medical treatment, it would be inappropriate for an arbitrator under a collective bargaining agreement to interpret the statute in such a way.”

Town of Falmouth, LAIG 6741 (Cooper, 2009).

This article appears in the August 2009 issue