Out-of-pocket expenses are any personal injury expenses that come out of your pocket but do not fit easily into other elements of damages, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Many unrepresented injury victims ignore their out-of-pocket expenses when seeking damages.
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Types of Out-of-Pocket Expenses
A complete listing of possible out-of-pocket expenses would be too long to list here. Nevertheless, the following are some of the most common.
You don’t have to sleep in your car when you make an overnight trip for medical treatment that does not involve an inpatient stay in the hospital. You can claim reimbursement for reasonable accommodation expenses. You can also claim reasonable reimbursement for eating in restaurants since you probably won’t have a kitchen available.
You could classify medication as either out-of-pocket expenses or medical expenses. However, if you are paying for your medication in advance, they probably qualify as out-of-pocket expenses. You can claim both prescription medication and OTC drugs, such as Tylenol.
You might be relying on your health insurance to pay some medical bills. Many health insurance policies have deductibles of several hundred dollars. You shouldn’t have to bear the burden of these expenses. Demand that the opposing party pay them.
Do you need crutches, a wheelchair, kidney dialysis equipment, or some other type of medical equipment? You can also qualify for reimbursement of these expenses, whether they are small or large.
Disposal of Your Vehicle
If you suffered a car accident injury, your car is likely in worse shape than you are. If it is undrivable, the police probably called a towing company to tow it to a garage rather than leaving it on the side of the road as a traffic hazard.
In addition to towing costs, you might have to pay storage costs. The storage period could be lengthened by the insurance company’s need to examine the car to determine the extent of the damage. If your vehicle was not totaled, you might also need to pay for repairs.
You can claim reimbursement for the following travel expenses:
- Rental car expenses, unless you have already included them in a property damage claim;
- Mileage reimbursement (at the rate determined by the IRS);
- Parking fees; and
- Bus fares, taxi fares, ridesharing, etc., to the extent that you need them (if you can’t drive or don’t own a car).
You can also claim other reasonable and necessary transportation costs.
Child Care Expenses
You cannot take care of children while lying in a hospital bed. You might also find it impossible to care for your children while recuperating at home. Child care could get extremely expensive if you undergo a long rehabilitation period or have several children.
If you suffered a temporary or permanent disability, you might incur expenses such as the following:
- In-home assistance with your care while you recuperate (you might need assistance bathing, cooking, etc.);
- Alterations to your home or vehicle, such as a wheelchair ramp. An insurance adjuster is particularly likely to challenge expenses such as these.
You can and should claim compensation for any home or vehicle alternations necessitated by a disability caused by the accident.
An Important Caveat: The “Reasonable and Necessary” Restriction
No matter what out-of-pocket expense you claim, they must be both (1) reasonable and (2) necessary. An insurance adjuster or a court will balk at compensating you for expenses that do not meet these conditions.
What Are “Reasonable” Expenses?
Classifying an expense as reasonable or unreasonable is an inherently subjective undertaking. Nevertheless, certain boundaries are reasonably clear. For example, if you travel out of town overnight for medical treatment, staying at the Hyatt Regency instead of an average motel probably won’t qualify as a “reasonable” expense.
If the insurance adjuster challenges the validity of your expenses, make sure to ask for a written explanation for their rejection. If you believe the insurance adjuster is being unreasonable, compare the cost of the rejected expenditure with its competitors. Documentary evidence of competitors’ prices can help prove that your expenses were reasonable.
If your expense was related to medical treatment, a written statement from your doctor might help.
Proving Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Observe the following principles so that you can prove your out-of-pocket expenses:
- Start a file and keep copies of every document you receive-–parking tickets, repair bills, prescriptions, etc.
- Take photos of anything that might support your claim. This might include damage to your car to prove that your car rental was reasonable and necessary.
- Pay by debit or credit card rather than cash to better document the nature of your expenses.
Use common sense and assume that the insurance adjuster will challenge every expense.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Calculate and Prove Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Any experienced personal injury lawyer has claimed and proven out-of-pocket expenses in court and at the negotiating table. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you might qualify for more compensation than you think. William G. Kolodner Personal Injury Lawyers can help you fight back against a stubborn insurance company contact us today at (410) 837-2144.