Out-of-Pocket Expenses

When you pursue a personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages cover the financial impacts of your injuries and typically include your medical bills, lost wages, and diminished earning capacity.

However, many accident victims do not realize that their damages include other costs that arise from their accidents. These out-of-pocket expenses can sometimes amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in losses that accident victims fail to include in their claims.

How Does Auto Insurance Work in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, all car owners are required to buy liability insurance with two forms of coverage:

Bodily Injury Liability (BIL)

BIL coverage compensates third parties who suffer injuries in car accidents caused by the policyholder. BIL coverage does not pay for injuries to the policyholder, but it does for necessary and reasonable expenses incurred due to injuries that resulted from the accident.

These expenses include the following:

  • Surgery and medical treatment
  • Physical and mental health therapy
  • Lost wages while you recover from your injuries
  • Diminished earning capacity due to long-term disabilities

You can include both past and future losses, which means you can include the cost of surgery even though you may not yet have had the operation. You just need your doctor to testify that you will need it due to your injuries.

Property Damage Liability (PDL)

PDL coverage compensates third parties who lost property in a car or truck accident caused by the policyholder. It will pay to repair or replace the damaged property.

What Are Out-of-Pocket Expenses?

There is nothing in the law or in any auto insurance policy that limits your compensation to such narrow categories of losses. Instead, you are entitled to recover any losses that were either caused by the policyholder’s negligence or are otherwise reasonable and necessary based on the losses you suffered, even if those losses do not fit neatly into any of the typical expense categories.

Documenting Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses

You need to document your expenses using receipts, repair estimates, and financial statements and show that your expenses were “reasonable and necessary.”

Reasonable means you did not overpay, which usually refers to your need for services of the same quality that you would normally get. Thus, if you drive a minivan, you should probably try to rent a minivan, whereas if you rent a sports car or luxury car, your car rental expense might not satisfy the reasonableness test.

Necessary means the expense was justified by the accident. If you broke your nose in an accident, you might need plastic surgery to repair it, but if you broke your arm, plastic surgery on your nose is probably not necessary.

Examples of Out-of-Pocket Expenses in a Personal Injury Claim

Broadly, out-of-pocket expenses describe any amounts you pay using your savings or earnings. They are different from expenses you incurred but did not pay, meaning out-of-pocket expenses do not include medical bills you have not yet paid. You have a legal obligation to pay those bills, of course, but you cannot consider them to be out-of-pocket expenses.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses Relating to Medical Treatment

Out-of-pocket expenses include amounts you pay relating to your injuries. 

For example, they can include payments for:

  • Health insurance copays and deductibles
  • Durable medical equipment, like wheelchairs and home hospital beds
  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Medical supplies, such as bandages, gauze, and medical tape

You can also include expenses you incurred while pursuing treatment. 

If you need to travel for medical treatment, you can include travel expenses such as:

  • Fares for airplanes, buses, or trains
  • Taxi or rideshare fares
  • Parking fees
  • Fuel
  • Hotels
  • Food

Bear in mind that to meet the “necessary and reasonable” threshold, you will probably need to show that you could not get treatment without traveling.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses Relating to Disabilities

If you sustain significant disabilities from your injuries, you can seek compensation for expenses relating to them. 

Some examples of these expenses include the following:

  • Paratransit or ambulance transportation
  • Nursing or rehabilitative care
  • Home modifications, such as wheelchair ramps and grab bars
  • Caretakers

When your disabilities prevent you from performing household tasks, you can also receive compensation for replacement services you need to purchase, such as:

  • Transportation
  • House cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Childcare

You will need to show that these expenses were reasonable and necessary based on your injuries. A broken leg might justify using rideshare services to travel, but you might need to explain why you needed a driver having only sustained a broken rib.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses Relating to Property Losses

After your car is hit in an accident, you might incur out-of-pocket expenses to get it repaired or replaced. You might also need to pay for transportation until you get a functioning vehicle. Some out-of-pocket expenses you could pay include things like towing, vehicle storage, or rental car services.

Most personal injury lawyers will help you with your property damage claim in combination with your injury claim, so make sure you discuss your property damage and property-related expenses with your attorney.

Your Personal Injury Lawyer’s Role in Getting Compensation for Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Your personal injury attorney should walk you through the typical out-of-pocket expenses incurred in injury cases. To discuss the compensation you can pursue and receive for your out-of-pocket expenses, contact a Lafayette personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.