Comcare is not liable to pay compensation for expenses incurred
travelling to and from medical appointments if the length of the
journey made (including the return part of the journey) is less
than 50 kilometres.
Comcare accepted liability to pay compensation to the applicant,
Mr Chalfont, in accordance with the Safety, Rehabilitation and
Compensation Act 1988 (Cth) ("the SRC Act")
for a left knee injury, a left shoulder injury and diverticula of
Mr Chalfont received physiotherapy on some 18 occasions at a
hospital located 38 kilometres, including the return journey, from
his residence between 7 December 2004 and 18 March 2005.
Additionally, Mr Chalfont consulted an orthopaedic surgeon on 2
occasions at a surgery located 44 kilometres, including the return
journey, from his residence in October 2004 and May 2005.
Comcare denied liability to reimburse Mr Chalfont on the basis
that none of the journeys exceeded 50 kilometres. Mr Chalfont
sought a review of that decision.
Section 16(6) of the SRC Act provides as follows:
"(6) Subject to subsection (7), if:
(a) compensation in respect of
the cost of medical treatment is payable; and
(b) the employee reasonably incurs expenditure in doing either or
both of the following:
(i) making a necessary journey
for the purpose of obtaining that medical treatment;
(ii) remaining, for the purpose of obtaining that medical
treatment, at a place to which the employee has made a journey for
Comcare is liable to pay
compensation to the employee:
(c) in respect of the journey--of an amount worked out using the
specified rate per kilometre means such rate per
kilometre as the Minister specifies, by legislative instrument,
under this subsection in respect of journeys to which this
numbers of kilometres travelled means the number
of whole kilometres Comcare determines to have been the reasonable
length of such a journey as it was necessary for the employee to
make (including the return part of the journey).
(d) in respect of the employee remaining for the purpose of
obtaining the treatment--of an amount equal to the expenditure so
reasonably incurred in remaining for that purpose."
Section 16(7)(a) of the SRC Act provides that Comcare is not
liable to pay compensation under subsection (6) unless the
reasonable length of such a journey as it was necessary for the
employee to make (including the return part of the journey)
exceeded 50 kilometres.
Mr Chalfont gave evidence that on each of the occasions
identified by him, due to his medical condition, he was required
either to return home to change his attire before resuming the
journey, or, to detour in order to locate suitable toilet
facilities. The result, Mr Chalfont alleged, was that each of the
journeys claimed exceeded 50 kilometres and accordingly, he was
entitled to compensation.
Deputy President P E Hack SC referred to earlier claims for
reimbursement for travelling expenses made by Mr Chalfont and noted
that if Mr Chalfont's alleged need to return home or to locate
toilet facilities occurred as frequently as he said it did, that
these earlier claims should also have had inflated distances. DP
Hack also noted that the first significant mention of an extended
journey was not made until 12 April 2009.
After reviewing the evidence, DP Hack, concluded that the late
formulation of Mr Chalfont's claim and the manner in which it
matured over time, left him with no confidence in Mr Chalfont's
evidence. DP Hack concluded that he was unable to accept Mr
Chalfont's evidence and accordingly, affirmed Comcare's
decision to deny liability.
This decision confirms that Comcare and other licensees are not
liable to pay compensation for travel expenses incurred when an
injured worker is travelling to and from medical appointments if
the length of the journey made (including the return part of the
journey) is less than 50 kilometres.
1. Deputy President P E Hack SC
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