When you pursue an injury claim, you can seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include all financial losses arising from your injury. These losses can include amounts you paid or are legally obligated to pay.
Out-of-pocket expenses can make up a large percentage of your economic losses. To recover these in your injury claim, you must understand which expenses are recoverable and how you can document them.
What Are Out-of-Pocket Expenses?
Out-of-pocket expenses are economic losses that you paid for. They are different from expenses you are legally obligated to pay.
For example, suppose that you seek medical treatment after a workplace accident. If you have health insurance, you might pay your copay at the time of service. Without this copay, many providers will not provide treatment or other medical services. This copay constitutes an out-of-pocket expense because the payment comes out of your pocket even if you put it on a credit card.
But if you do not have health insurance, you might reach an agreement with your medical providers that they will bill you for your medical expenses. You have not paid any money out of your pocket for these expenses, so they do not constitute out-of-pocket expenses.
You should remain aware of your out-of-pocket expenses if you believe you may pursue a personal injury claim. You can seek reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses that were:
- Caused by the other party’s negligent or intentional actions
“Causation” requires you to show the other party’s actions fell within the sequence of events that led to the loss. You must also show the other party’s actions were the proximate cause of your losses. This means your losses were a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the other party’s actions.
“Reasonable” means that you did not overpay for the expense. Thus, if you were driving a compact car during your crash, you might reasonably rent a compact car. But renting a sports car or luxury car might seem unreasonable.
“Necessary” does not necessarily equate to “need.” You can incur expenses even if you do not need them. But you must show that the expense was recommended by a doctor or otherwise expected under the circumstances.
Examples of Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Out-of-pocket expenses do not need to fit into neat categories as long as they were reasonable, necessary, and caused by the accident. But as you gather your records for your personal injury claim, you might want to think about these categories so you do not miss any compensable expenses.
You can seek compensation for expenses you incur while seeking medical treatment, including:
- Health insurance deductibles and copays
- Transportation to and from doctor’s appointments
- Lodging if you need to seek treatment away from your home
- Over-the-counter medication
- Medical devices, like crutches or wheelchairs
You might also need to pay for home modifications to accommodate your disabilities. You can often include expenses for these modifications, such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars, and lowered counters.
Replacement Services Expenses
You may need replacement services that you would not have otherwise needed but for your injury. These services might help you perform your household activities while you seek treatment or recover from your injuries. If you become permanently disabled, you might claim these expenses for both past and future services.
Some examples of these services include:
- Cleaning and meal preparation
To recover compensation for these expenses, they must meet the causation test. Thus, you cannot get childcare expenses reimbursed after your accident if you normally incurred these expenses before your accident.
Property Loss Expenses
You can seek reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to damage to your vehicle after an auto accident, such as:
- Vehicle storage
- Rideshare, taxi, or bus fares
- Car rental
Most injury attorneys will help you with property loss claims arising from the same accident that injured you.
Documenting Out-of-Pocket Expenses
To get reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, you must document them. Your documentation will help you show that the expenses were necessary, reasonable, and caused by the at-fault party’s actions. You will typically document these expenses using financial documents such as:
- Credit or debit card statements
If they were related to your medical treatment, you may also need your medical records and prescriptions to show that you incurred the expenses according to your doctor’s orders.
Your Baton Rouge Personal Injury Lawyer’s Role in Recovering Out-of-Pocket Expenses
When you meet with a Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer, they will typically run through some common categories of out-of-pocket expenses. Once you gather your records, you will go through them with the lawyer to make sure they satisfy the test.
The lawyer will prepare your insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurer. This claim will include your out-of-pocket expenses. The attorney will also negotiate with the insurer to get those expenses reimbursed.