What Are Out-of-Pocket Expenses in Personal Injury Cases?

By Peter DePaolis

Virginia law allows you to include all reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses in your personal injury claim. These out-of-pocket expenses are in addition to your medical expenses and lost wages. The bills for your medical treatment and the wages you lost when you could not work fall into different categories of your personal injury claim.

A Virginia personal injury attorney can handle your personal injury claim so that you can focus your energy and attention on getting better. Let’s address the question of what are out-of-pocket expenses in personal injury cases?

An Overview of Out-of-Pocket Expenses in a Personal Injury Claim

Anyone who has gotten injured in an accident knows that there are many expenses that result from the incident that are not doctor and hospital bills or lost wages. While many of these expenses are less significant than your doctor and hospital bills, when added up, they can throw a wrench into your budget.

To be recoverable, your expenses should be reasonable, so you will need to take care not to buy the most expensive or extravagant item available. For example, if you had to stay in a hotel overnight because you needed medical treatment out of town, the at-fault party will not be responsible for a hotel bill from the Ritz-Carlton. On the other hand, you are not expected to camp out in a tent in the hospital parking lot. The expenses should be reasonable, which usually means adequate but not lavish.

Your out-of-pocket expenses should also be limited to what you actually needed. For example, if you injured your ankle in the accident and your doctor recommended that you use crutches for a few weeks, you should not go overboard and buy a $10,000 electric wheelchair. Of course, if you have other health issues that render you unable to use crutches, it might be appropriate for you to rent a wheelchair from a medical supply store. Just be sure to get a written justification from your doctor.

You will want to make a list of all of your out-of-pocket expenses and keep copies of the receipts or other proof of the item, the date on which you incurred the expense, and the price.

Types of Out-of-Pocket Expenses in Personal Injury Cases

Two of the primary categories of injury-related out-of-pocket expenses after getting hurt in an accident are transportation costs and expenses associated with medical treatment. Some of your transportation costs could be to get medical treatment. The expenses associated with medical treatment are in addition to your doctor and hospital bills.

Your out-of-pocket expenses related to medical care could include over-the-counter medications like Motrin or Tylenol and medical equipment like a walker or wheelchair. Sometimes, these items get grouped in with your medical expenses, rather than with out-of-pocket expenses.

You might encounter vehicle-related out-of-pocket expenses after an accident. For example, your car might have gotten towed from the scene of the accident. If your vehicle was not drivable or you had to go to the hospital in an ambulance, your car could not stay at the scene after getting released by the police. You could get assessed storage costs by the towing company or storage yard for the days that the vehicle had to be stored while the insurance company evaluated the damage and your car got repaired. 

Also, a frequent out-of-pocket expense is car rental while your car gets repaired. If you had to take public transportation instead of renting a car, you should keep detailed records and receipts of these expenses to add them to your injury claim.

You might have to pay for someone to watch your young children if you had to be away from home receiving medical treatment. When you come home from the hospital, depending on the severity and nature of your injuries, you might need in-home assistance with your personal care while you recuperate. A Virginia personal injury attorney can help you hold the at-fault party accountable for your injuries and losses. Contact our office today for legal help, we gladly offer a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.