What Are Out-of-Pocket Expenses?

Suffering a personal injury is not only hard on your body but also on your pocketbook. If you have a strong claim and a source of funds (the at-fault party’s insurance company, for example), you can eventually receive compensation. However, that might be weeks or months later. 

In the meantime, you may have many expenses that cannot wait until you receive a settlement or trial verdict. These expenses are what personal injury lawyers mean when they speak of “out-of-pocket expenses.” 

Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are not out-of-pocket costs. Only certain kinds of economic damages count as out-of-pocket expenses.  

Common Out-of-Pocket Expenses in a Personal Injury Case

Following is a list of some of the most common out-of-pocket expenses that personal injury victims have to deal with.

Medical Supplies

You might need to pay for:

  • A wheelchair
  • Crutches
  • Prescription and OTC medication
  • Co-pays or deductibles

Many other medical expenses might need to come out of your pocket.

Travel Expenses

You might need to travel to seek a diagnosis or medical treatment. 

Your out-of-pocket travel expenses might include:

The more serious your injuries, the greater your out-of-pocket travel expenses are likely to be.

Automobile Storage Expenses

After a car accident, the insurance company might ask you to put your car in storage until their insurance adjuster can inspect it. You may be entitled to reimbursement for these costs.

Property Damage

In a personal injury claim, property damage normally means damage to a vehicle in an auto accident. You might need your car to get to work, so you might need to pay for repairs out of your own pocket. That may or may not make more sense than renting a car or using rideshare services. 

Property damage can also apply to personal property, such as a damaged bike in a bicycle accident or a destroyed cell phone in a pedestrian accident.

Childcare Services

Did you take care of small children before your accident? If you did, you may need to pay for childcare until you can resume your parenting duties. This can get expensive. If you weren’t your children’s caretaker before your accident, childcare expenses probably wouldn’t be “reasonable and necessary” (see below), and you would not qualify for reimbursement.

Personal Care

Are you able to feed yourself, bathe yourself, and take care of your other personal needs? If not, hopefully, you have a family member who can help. If you live alone, however, you might need to hire someone else to perform these tasks for you until you reach a certain point in your recovery.

House Cleaning

Did you handle domestic chores before your accident? If so, and if you cannot handle them anymore (at least temporarily), you might need to hire someone else to perform them.

Case Expenses

You might incur certain case expenses, such as expert witness fees. Some personal injury attorneys will front these expenses and seek reimbursement only if they win your case. If this is your arrangement, case expenses will not be out-of-pocket.

“Reasonable and Necessary” Expenses

All of your out-of-pocket expenses must be “reasonable and necessary” for you to claim reimbursement. 

To question whether an expense was necessary is to question whether you needed to incur the expense in the first place. Did you really need to take that overnight trip to a Chicago medical clinic when you live in downstate Illinois?

To question whether an expense was reasonable is to question whether you needed to spend as much as you did. When you took that overnight trip to Chicago, did you really need to stay at the Hyatt, or could you have stayed in a roadside motel?

Proving That Your Expenses Were Reasonable and Necessary

You cannot win reimbursement for any expenses you cannot prove. The insurance company hopes you can’t prove your expenses because that means they don’t have to pay them. 

Keep Your Receipts

Keep all of your receipts, whether they are online or paper receipts (collect both forms of the same receipt if possible). If you have lost any invoices, try to recover them. If you have lost receipts for prescription medication, for example, your pharmacy can issue replacement receipts with your authorization.

Obtain Third-Party Documentation

A neutral third party can serve as a very credible witness of your need for a certain expense. For example, your doctor might write you a note supporting your need to install a wheelchair ramp in your home or stating that your injuries prevent you from undertaking childcare activities.

A Chicago Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Prove Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses

A Chicago personal injury lawyer from Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys can help you document your out-of-pocket expenses. They can also help you demand their inclusion in any personal injury settlement–or win them at trial. 
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can greatly increase the amount of compensation you will eventually receive. Contact our law firm today at (312) 726-1616 to request a free initial consultation as soon as you can.