In a personal injury context, the term “out-of-pocket expenses” refers to any expense you have to pay out of your own resources. In other words, they don’t include expenses that insurance companies pay before you even see the bill.
Although out-of-pocket expenses are a subcategory of economic damages, they frequently overlap with other forms of economic damages, such as medical expenses.
First Things First: What To Do After an Accident
What you do immediately after an accident can exert a decisive influence on the success or failure of your claim. To the extent that your injuries allow, take the following actions:
- In a car accident, move your vehicle out of traffic and get to a safe area.
- Call 911 and summon them to the scene of the accident. Prompt medical care is essential for both medical and legal reasons. Be careful what you say, because your conversation will be recorded, and the recording constitutes evidence.
- Take photos and videos of all injuries and property damage. In a car accident, photograph the other car’s license plate to avoid a hit-and-run.
- In a car accident, exchange contact and insurance details with the other driver.
- Record contact details of any witnesses.
- Go to the hospital as soon as the ambulance arrives. Any delay could damage your claim.
Although you don’t have to contact a lawyer immediately after your accident, you should do so within a few days at most.
Examples of Some Common Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Out-of-pocket expenses come in many different varieties. The list below includes only the most common expenses. Don’t exclude any expense just because it doesn’t appear on this list. Include an expense if it is reasonable, necessary, and if the accident is what generated the expense.
- Deductions and copays that your own health insurance won’t cover.
- Over-the-counter medications.
- Medical equipment and supplies such as wheelchairs, crutches, and more.
- Second opinions, which insurance companies sometimes refuse to cover.
- Any other medical expenses, even if covered by insurance, that might come due before the insurance company is ready to pay.
Rehabilitation and Therapy
- Various costs associated with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation services.
- Alternative treatment, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, or massage therapy, which your health insurance might balk at paying. You might need to pay these out of your own pocket while you are haggling with the insurance company.
Home and Lifestyle Modifications
- Modification of your home to accommodate your disability (ramps, for example);
- Modifications to your car so that you can drive it even with your disability.
- Long-term care expenses, if you need to relocate to a nursing home, assisted living facility, or to another long-term care facility. These expenses can exceed $100,000 per year in some cases.
- Public transportation to and from medical appointments.
- Overnight accommodation if you need to seek outpatient treatment in another city.
- The use of a rental car.
- Highway tolls and parking expenses.
- Uber, Lyft, or taxi expenses.
- Towing and storage of your vehicle. You might need to keep it in storage until the insurance adjuster inspects the damage.
- Repair expenses, which might come due before the insurance company is ready to pay.
- Auto insurance deductibles and copays.
- You might need a babysitter or a preschool to take care of your children while you are recovering. You can only claim these expenses if you are ordinarily the one who takes care of your children.
- If (and only if) you normally take care of the housework, you might need to pay someone to replace you while you recover from your injuries.
Personal Care and Nursing Care
- You might need help bathing, cooking, dressing, and more if your injuries have left you temporarily or permanently disabled.
- You might need in-home nursing care.
Many other out-of-pocket expenses could factor into your specific case.
The “Reasonable and Necessary” Restriction
Colorado law requires all of your out-of-pocket expenses to be “reasonable and necessary.” This restriction, of course, invites the defendant or the insurance company to question whether your claimed expenses are valid.
Document everything by collecting receipts and any other evidence you need to prove (i) that you needed to incur these expenses and (ii) you actually incurred them. In addition to collecting receipts, photograph anything that might support your claim.
How a Lakewood Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
An experienced Lakewood injury attorney can help you by:
- Gathering admissible evidence;
- Calculating your damages;
- Negotiating with the insurance company;
- Filing a lawsuit, even if you still anticipate an eventual settlement.
- Representing you in court;
- Drafting legal documents; and
- Performing numerous other tasks.
Almost all personal injury lawyers charge on a contingency fee basis. This means you only pay legal fees if you win money for your case. The contingency fee arrangement aligns your lawyer’s interests with yours.
You’re Probably Ignoring Some of Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses
It’s difficult to remember and record every expense that might qualify as an “out-of-pocket expense.” A Colorado personal injury lawyer can definitely help you here. Even more importantly, a seasoned lawyer can help you identify, claim, and prove all manner of expenses and losses that you incurred as a result of your accident – including all of your economic and non-economic damages.
To expedite the processing of your claim, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer from Matos Personal Injury Lawyers today at (720) 912 7274.