The category “out-of-pocket expenses,” as applied to personal injury claims, refers to any expense that you (the victim of a personal injury) must pay before you receive any compensation from the defendant or their insurance company.
Of course, you cannot claim certain elements of your eventual compensation, such as pain and suffering or lost wages, as out-of-pocket expenses. That’s because these expenses didn’t come out of your pocket in the first place.
Typical Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Although “out-of-pocket expenses” refers to the source of the funds used to pay expenses, rather than the types of expenses, personal injury victims tend to pay certain expenses out of pocket more than others.
Following is a list of some of the most common out-of-pocket expenses
In many cases, personal injury victims grant their healthcare providers a hospital lien that allows the hospital or other healthcare provider to access funds that are paid in an eventual settlement or court judgment. Until and unless this happens, however, personal injury victims might have to pay medical expenses out of their own pocket. Examples of such expenses include:
- Insurance deductibles and copays;
- OTC medications;
- Medical equipment such as wheelchairs;
- Physical therapy expenses;
- Rehabilitation expenses;
- Nursing home care; and
- At-home nursing and personal care.
This is an incomplete list of possible out-of-pocket medical expenses.
If you don’t live in a big city, you might have to travel to one to obtain outpatient or even inpatient medical care. Once you arrive in town, you will probably need intra-city transportation. All of this costs money. Examples of out-of-pocket transportation expenses include:
- Rental car expenses;
- Bus or plane tickets;
- Hotel or motel fees for overnight stays; and
- Intra-city transportation expenses (bus or subway fares, for instance).
You can claim compensation for any expense that arises directly from your need to travel for medical diagnosis or treatment.
Towing Charges and Automobile Storage
If your injury arose from a car wreck, you might need to have someone tow your car to a garage or to a repair shop. The insurance company might ask you to keep your car in storage until they can send an inspector to survey the damage. These expenses can add up over time.
You might be laid up in bed for days or weeks after an injury. If you have small children at home, who will take care of them while you are in bed recovering from your injuries? If you are lucky, you have a family member who is willing and able to help. If not, then you will have to hire someone.
You might send your children to a daycare center, or you might invite a babysitter to your home. Either way, child care isn’t cheap, and the care of your children is absolutely essential.
You might not have the ability to sweep and mop the floor, take out the garbage, clean out clutter, and wash your clothes while you are recovering from a serious injury. If you have a spouse or a family member who can perform these activities for you, that’s great. If not, you may have to pay someone to do these tasks for you.
Can you bathe yourself without assistance? Can you brush your teeth, change your clothes, take your medicine, and cook your meals? Again, you are lucky if you have family members who can perform these tasks for you. If you don’t, you will have to hire someone. You might even have to hire someone to live with you full-time.
How Do You Prove Out-of-Pocket Expenses?
There are many ways to prove out-of-pocket expenses, and you should use all of them. First, keep your own written inventory of your expenses. Keep all your invoices in two files—one online and one offline (paper receipts in a box, for example). Keep a record of any facts about these expenses that receipts and invoices do not make clear. Be prepared to justify your expenses to an insurance company.
The “Reasonable and Necessary” Limitation
All of your expenses must be “reasonable and necessary” to qualify for compensation. Perhaps some of them are not. If your expenses exceed a “reasonable and necessary” amount, you will only receive reimbursement for the portion of the expenses that was reasonable and necessary.
The insurance company will probably use principle this against you. Don’t be afraid to challenge them if they are being unreasonable. Better yet, have your lawyer challenge them.
You Might Need a Lawyer To Help You Prove Your Personal Injury Damages
You will have to prove every penny of your personal injury compensation. Sometimes this task is straightforward, and sometimes it isn’t. Contact an experienced Dallas personal injury lawyer at Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers can help you assemble evidence that will help you whether your claim resolves in court or (more likely) at the settlement table. Call us at (214) 855-1420.