question mark 2492009 640

What Do You Think: Was Asking Transit Authority Worker to Travel from N.J. to Big Apple for IME Unreasonable?

29 Mar, 2024 Chris Parker

question mark 2492009 640
                               

New York, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – There was some irony in a Transit Authority worker’s contention that traveling to Manhattan for an independent medical examination was too much to ask. Perhaps he might have considered an Uber.

The case addressed whether it was reasonable for the employer to ask the worker to travel 22 miles from Manhattan from New Jersey for the exam. The employee had previously injured his back at work carrying gallons of water. The Transit Authority began making workers’ compensation payments to the claimant and every sign indicated that it would continue to do so if an IME supported the decision.

The employer scheduled an IME in Manhattan. It would have taken an hour to drive there. The claimant refused to go. The employer arranged another IME at the same location, and the claimant again was a no-show. His lawyer contended it was unreasonable to require his client to drive an hour.

A Workers' Compensation Law Judge found that the claimant didn’t show good cause for missing the IMEs. The Board affirmed.

On appeal, the court explained that an employer and/or its workers' compensation carrier is entitled to have the claimant examined by a physician at a medical facility convenient to the claimant. 

Further, refusal by the claimant to submit to an IME bars the claimant from recovering compensation for any period during which he has refused to submit to the examination. Thus, the employer in that situation can suspend payments, as this one did.

The court added that there is no basis for suspending payments where the claimant's failure to attend an IME

(1) Is not due to a refusal to submit to the examination; or 
(2) Where the claimant's refusal is reasonable.

The court also noted that New York law requires that all IMEs be performed in a convenient and accessible location within a reasonable distance from the claimant's residence.

Could the Transit Authority suspend the employee’s benefits?
AYes. Given the driving distance and the fact that he drove further for appointments with his own doctors, the Manhattan location was reasonable.
B. No. Driving to another state and trying to navigate Manhattan made the trek unreasonable.

If you selected A, you agreed with the court in Mina v. New York City Transit Authority, No. CV-22-2040 (N.Y. App. Div. 03/14/24), which held that the employee’s failure to go to the appointments was unreasonable.

The court observed that the IME in Manhattan was approximately 22.3 miles from the claimant's residence in New Jersey and involved one hour of travel time by vehicle. 

“Further, although claimant testified that he is unable to drive, he explained that his daughter drives him from his residence in New Jersey to the offices of his treating physician, which is located 39 miles away in Brooklyn,”

Under these circumstances, substantial evidence supported the Board's determination. The location of the IMEs was within a reasonable distance from the claimant’s home. Therefore, his failure to attend was not reasonable.

The court affirmed the Board’s decision.


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