James Godwin v. Sarasota County Government and Johns Eastern Company, Inc., OJCC# 22-018728; Decision Date: Mar. 30, 2023

The Judge of Compensation Claims found that the offer of travel reimbursement does not satisfy the employer/carrier’s obligation to provide medical transportation.

The claimant filed a petition for benefits seeking authorization for transportation to all medical appointments. The employer/carrier authorized Monti Transportation for same. The adjuster testified that he informed the claimant and his wife that they were free to schedule transportation appointments directly with Monti. After failing to appear to provide transportation, the adjuster informed the claimant and his wife that if they were to utilize Uber, Lyft or a taxi, they would reimbursed for same. As of the date of the final hearing, Monti continue to be approved for transportation. There was some conflicting information about how many times Monti had failed to transport the claimant. As of the date of the final hearing, the claimant and his wife had not utilized a different source for transportation. The claimant was under the impression that the physical therapy facility was giving his physical therapy schedule directly to Monti. At some point, the facility indicated that they would have to discharge the claimant if further appointments were missed. The claimant testified that there were multiple times that Monti failed to show up, although he was waiting to be transported. 

It is important to note that the claimant is 71 years of age, resides in Arcadia, Florida, and had worked for the employer for 27 years. The physical therapy facility was located in Port Charlotte, which is roughly 26 miles from the claimant’s home. His wife was not always able to transport him due to her job and limited physical capabilities. The judge found the claimant and his wife to be credible witnesses. The judge also found that Monti was not credible in that they gave inconsistent information about what had been provided. The judge also commented that the adjuster was aware of the issues—possibly in an effort to relay that the adjuster should have terminated Monti and authorized another vendor to provide transportation.

The judge analyzed the statute and case, and pointed out that there is a difference between authorizing and providing. Here, the employer/carrier authorized transportation but did not provide it in some instances. The employer/carrier must either furnish such transportation or pay the claimant the reasonable actual cost thereof (mileage reimbursement). There is no statutory support for the contention that the claimant can be required by the employer/carrier to use his own funds for treatment and then seek reimbursement for the funds he expended. Therefore, the judge held that the offer of reimbursement does not satisfy the employer/carrier’s duty to provide medical transportation and granted the request for the provision of medical transportation.



What’s Hot in Workers’ Comp, Vol. 27, No. 5, May 2023, is prepared by Marshall Dennehey to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. We would be pleased to provide such legal assistance as you require on these and other subjects when called upon. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING pursuant to New York RPC 7.1 Copyright © 2023 Marshall Dennehey, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm. For reprints or inquiries, or if you wish to be removed from this mailing list, contact tamontemuro@mdwcg.com.