Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Car accidents cost a lot of money. You may have medical bills and lose income while you miss work. You will need to replace or repair your vehicle. You may have even lost personal effects, like your cell phone or jewelry, in the crash.

Out-of-pocket expenses cover various consequences of a car crash. You might not track these costs because they might seem small and ordinary, but they can add up. And, importantly, you can often recover these losses in a claim against the at-fault driver.

What Are Out-of-Pocket Expenses?

What Are Out-of-Pocket Expenses?

Out-of-pocket expenses are exactly what they sound like. Whenever you pay an expense caused by your crash, it may qualify as a compensable out-of-pocket expense.

Examples of Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Out-of-pocket expenses fall into a few categories, including the following.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Injuries

If you spend money to seek or receive medical care after a car accident, the at-fault driver might bear liability for them. In other words, the law does not limit your medical expenses to the money paid to hospitals and doctors. It also allows you to include the money you pay for:

  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Health insurance copays and deductibles
  • Durable medical goods, like wheelchairs and hospital beds
  • Occupational therapy and rehabilitation after suffering a disability

Many accident victims do not live close enough to specialists to receive the care they need after suffering car accident injuries. If you need to travel to receive medical care, you can include:

  • Gas and other transportation expenses
  • Parking fees
  • Hotel costs

Another source of out-of-pocket expenses comes from the temporary or permanent disabilities you suffer after a car accident. Some common out-of-pocket expenses after incapacitating injuries include:

  • Home modifications to accommodate a disability
  • Services for tasks you can’t perform, like driving, cooking, or caring for children

Texas law tries to put you back into the same financial position you were in before the accident. This means that you should try to seek all of your out-of-pocket expenses after a crash because they might qualify for compensation.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Property Damage

You can also seek compensation for out-of-pocket expenses arising from property damage. Again, many accident victims assume that an insurance claim will only cover the repair or replacement of their car. But insurance will often cover expenses associated with the loss of use of your car or other personal effects.

Examples of out-of-pocket expenses resulting from property damage include:

  • Towing costs
  • Car rental expenses
  • Taxi, bus, or rideshare fares
  • Replacement of personal effects, like your cell phone

You will include these expenses with your property damage claim when you pursue the at-fault driver.

Proving Out-of-Pocket Expenses

To get compensation for damages after a personal injury accident, including out-of-pocket expenses, you must prove the four elements of negligence:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation
  • Damages

All drivers have a legal duty to drive with reasonable care. They breach it when they break a traffic law and cause a crash. They can also break it by doing something legal but unreasonably dangerous.

For example, Texas does not have a hands-free cell phone law. But if a driver was holding their handset while talking and driving, a claims adjuster or jury might find that the driver acted negligently.

You must prove causation to recover compensation for out-of-pocket expenses. To determine whether your accident caused your out-of-pocket expenditures, a lawyer will often use the “but for” test. Under this test, you ask whether you would not have paid the expense but for your accident.

If you can prove causation, you can recover the reasonable and necessary expenses you incurred. “Reasonable” means that you did not overpay for your expenses. “Necessary” means that the costs were related to your accident and the injuries and damage it caused.

You can prove your out-of-pocket expenses using:

  • Receipts
  • Canceled checks
  • Credit card or bank statements

Since you need to prove the expense was reasonable and necessary, you might not get reimbursed for the full amount of your out-of-pocket expenses. For example, if a claims adjuster believes that you overpaid when you traveled for medical treatment by staying at a luxury hotel, the claims adjuster might refuse to pay the expense or reduce it.

Getting Compensation for Out-of-Pocket Expenses

All drivers in Texas must buy liability insurance. The minimum coverage levels include $30,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) per person or $60,000 in BIL per accident plus $25,000 in property damage liability (PDL).

Liability insurance covers a driver’s liabilities to other people. Thus, your liability insurance will not cover your out-of-pocket expenses. Instead, you must file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to get reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses unless you specifically bought extra insurance coverage.

For example, insurers often offer towing coverage, rental car coverage, and collision and comprehensive coverage. These forms of insurance might pay your out-of-pocket expenses from a crash. But if you did not buy these options, you can only get reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses by the other driver’s insurance.

You can seek out-of-pocket expenses in your injury and property damage claim against an at-fault driver. 

Contact us at George Salinas Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at (210) 225-0909 to learn about the out-of-pocket expenses you can pursue after your car accident. While you focus on your rest and recovery, an experienced San Antonio car accident lawyer can take care of your claim for compensation. Most attorneys in this area of the law work on contingency, which means you only pay attorney’s fees if they win or settle your case.