We’ve all heard the term “out-of-pocket expenses” but what exactly does it mean? It’s easy to visualize a literal hand getting money out of a literal pocket, but whose hand and whose pocket are we talking about?
If you have been injured in an accident, you can often recover expenses you have paid “out of pocket.” Your attorney will advise you on how to pursue them.
The Skinny on Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Out-of-pocket expenses refer to expenses paid from your own pocket. Meaning your wallet, checkbook, credit card, debit card, whatever your payment method of choice.
So if you’ve been injured in an accident, your out-of-pocket expenses are any expenses related to the accident and the injuries you suffered as a result. It’s important to remember that out–of-pocket expenses don’t refer to your actual medical bills or any wages lost due to your injuries.
How Do I Know if the Expense is Out-of-Pocket?
Basically, if you’ve been in an accident, any expenses that you paid in the course of getting treatment and recovering from your injuries are out of pocket. These expenses should be documented and included in the damages you seek to recover from the at-fault party.
Out of pocket expenses typically break down into two types: expenses incurred from medical treatment and expenses paid out for transportation costs.
Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses
Let’s say you were in a car accident and you broke your leg. The doctor took x-rays and put a cast on your leg, but when you get home, you’re taking painkillers and aspirin around the clock and need to rent a wheelchair to get around. Whatever you paid for your prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and the wheelchair rental are out-of-pocket medical expenses.
What if there are complications with your injury and you need to consult with a specialist in another state? The cost of your hotel stay would also be considered an out-of-pocket expense.
Out-of-Pocket Transportation Expenses
When you’ve been injured in a car accident you will likely be seeing a lot of doctors in the course of your treatment and recovery. These doctors might not be close to where you live.
Out-of-pocket transportation expenses refer to the money you paid to get to your appointments and then back home again. Typically, these expenses include:
- Cost of renting a car if you’re car was damaged in the accident;
- Mileage reimbursement-–an amount set by the IRS;
- Fees to park
- Cost of planes, trains, automobiles, etc.
You should keep track of these expenses as carefully as you can.
How to Get Out-of-Pocket Expenses Back Into Your Pocket
It is important to remember that insurance companies will look very closely at the expenses that you submit. The less money they pay out means more money for them. Be prepared for them to challenge some of your expenses or reject them outright. In those cases, they will argue that the cost wasn’t necessary or reasonable.
If an insurance company says the cost you paid for something was unreasonably high, it’s a good idea to get quotes or estimates from other stores or companies that sell the same item to show that you paid the going rate or somewhere close to it. If the insurance company says that an expense you submitted was unreasonable, it is wise to request that they provide a reason why they took this position.
In order to get reimbursed for your expenses, it is vitally important to keep close track of your receipts, invoices, pharmacy bills, and canceled checks. If the cost isn’t written down anywhere, it will be really difficult to prove that you paid it. Your mantra should be to save all documentation and write down every expense.
If you are a person who feels most comfortable with a pen and paper, keep a list or a journal with the name of each expense, the date, and what you paid. If you are more computer savvy, consider creating a spreadsheet or document that you can update easily.
Despite your best intentions, you still may lose something. That’s okay. In today’s digital age, it should be fairly simple to track down your payments online or through a banking or credit card app. Any pharmacy should be able to pull your records and what you paid for them.
A California Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Recover Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Being injured in a car accident can turn your whole world upside down. Dealing with the treatment of your injuries and focusing on recovery is physically and emotionally exhausting. This stress is only compounded by the seemingly endless flow of money going toward your medical-related expenses.
The smartest move is to consult with an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney right away. You want to make sure you recover the costs of all of the out-of-pocket expenses that you are justly entitled to.