After an accident, you may incur many types of economic damages. You may need to pay to tow and store a damaged vehicle. Your doctor might recommend over-the-counter medication for your injuries. And if you can work, you will likely pay someone to drive you to work while your injuries heal and you wait to replace or repair your vehicle.
Accident victims often fail to include these expenses in their insurance claims. As a result, they significantly underestimate their losses and receive a settlement that is too low to make them whole.
Learning how to document and claim these out-of-pocket expenses can ensure you receive a full and fair settlement or damage award after your accident.
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How To Prove Expenses Incurred After an Accident
The law allows you to seek compensation for all your losses after an accident. Contrary to how insurance companies categorize expenses, you are not limited to claiming medical expenses and lost wages. Instead, the at-fault party bears liability for all losses caused by their negligence, including economic and non-economic damages.
To include expenses in your claim, you must show that they were:
Caused by the Accident
Suppose that you broke your hip in a slip and fall accident caused by a restaurant’s unreasonable failure to clean a spill in the bathroom. As a result, you incurred rideshare fares for several weeks because you could not drive yourself to work. In this case, the restaurant’s negligence was a cause-in-fact of your transportation costs.
Proximate cause is the second component of causation. Proximate cause means your losses were reasonably foreseeable because of the at-fault party’s negligence. This does not require that the at-fault party foresee your exact injury. But it does mean that the at-fault party’s actions were the type of actions that could result in your losses.
Thus, actions that typically do not lead to injuries, like helping someone onto a train, might not meet the standard for proximate cause. But actions that typically cause injuries, like running stop signs, will meet the standard even if the victim suffered extraordinarily severe injuries.
An expense is reasonable when you do not overpay. Thus, suppose that you incurred travel expenses to seek medical treatment outside your hometown. You might not meet the standard for reasonableness if you stayed at five-star hotels and ate out at expensive restaurants.
On the other hand, you do not necessarily need to seek the cheapest option either. You must exercise your judgment to decide what most people would consider reasonable under the circumstances.
An expense is necessary when you have no reasonable alternative. Again, this does not mean you need to go without something simply because you do not think you “need” it.
Necessity in this situation can be shown by:
- Factual need, like the need for a rental car after your car gets damaged or destroyed in a car accident
- Need, based on your doctor’s prescription or suggestion, like the need for a home hospital bed while you recover from a back injury
- Need, based on your capabilities, like the need for a cleaning service after a disabling injury
You might have some ability to accomplish all these things without spending money. You might be able to hitch a ride with a friend instead of renting a car. But as long as your car rental was reasonable, you have a better chance of showing it was necessary.
Examples of Out-of-Pocket Expenses in a Personal Injury Claim
Out-of-pocket expenses are expenses that you can include in your injury claim that you paid from your income or savings. Some examples of out-of-pocket expenses you can commonly claim after an accident include:
The most common out-of-pocket medical expenses relate to your health insurance. After you get hurt, you cannot wait for your injury compensation to get treatment. As a result, you will typically see a doctor and obtain medical treatment using your health insurance.
But almost every health insurance policy requires you to do one of the following:
- Pay a copay
- Meet a deductible
- Pay both a copay and meet a deductible
Your copays and deductibles are almost always included in out-of-pocket expenses in an injury claim.
Other examples include:
- Durable medical equipment
- Over-the-counter medication
- Medical devices
- Travel expenses for medical treatment
You can often get reimbursed for these costs as long as they are reasonable and necessary.
Replacement Service Costs
You can get reimbursed for amounts you pay out-of-pocket to help you while you are disabled, such as:
The reasonableness and necessity of these expenses will depend on the severity and duration of your injuries.
Documenting Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Your Personal Injury Claim
To get reimbursed, you will need proof of these expenses and what they paid for. Often, you will use receipts, canceled checks, and credit card statements to prove the purpose and amount of these expenses.
Your Augusta personal injury lawyer will use your records to prove your expenses during an insurance claim. To learn how an experienced personal injury attorney can recover out-of-pocket expenses, contact Hawk Law Group for a free consultation at (706) 722-3500.