Damages in a Car Accident Case

If you have been in a car wreck for which another driver was at fault, you are entitled to be compensated for your damages. These typically include:

out of pocket expenses

Property damage

Property damage may include the cost to repair or replace your vehicle and any other property that was damaged in the accident, such as your clothing, jewelry, or any personal items that were in the car during the accident.

Medical expenses

Medical expenses may include the cost of ambulance services, hospital stays, doctor visits, medical treatment, rehabilitation services, pharmaceuticals, or any other medical service that was provided to you as a result of injuries you sustained in the accident.

Lost wages

Lost wages may include the immediate loss of income resulting from your inability to work while you recover from your injuries, as well as any lost wages resulting from any permanent or long-term disabilities you may suffer as a result of your accident.

Pain and suffering

Pain and suffering may include a variety of symptoms you may suffer as a result of your accident, including the actual degree of pain you suffer, emotional distress, mental anguish, anxiety, depression, and loss of quality of life. All of these may be valued on an individual basis but they represent costs for which you are entitled to be compensated.

But as you may be realizing after your car wreck, there are always additional expenses related to your treatment or recovery that are not directly calculated into the cost of these normal damages. These are often referred to as “out-of-pocket” expenses. Although these expenses may seem trivial when viewed individually, they add up quickly. You must be sure to keep track of your “out-of-pocket” expenses and include them in any claim you file with the other driver’s insurance company. 

What Are Out-of-Pocket Expenses in a Car Accident Case?

Out-of-pocket expenses are any expenses you pay that are not directly included as part of your property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering. Although they may not be expenses that are directly calculated into the cost of your car repair or a specific injury, they are still items for which you may be compensated as part of your claim with the insurance company as long as the items are reasonable and necessary.

Here are some common types of reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses for which you may be compensated:

  • Towing services.  When you are injured in an accident, you probably leave the scene in an ambulance to be treated at the hospital. Like you, your vehicle doesn’t remain at the scene. If someone is not able to drive your vehicle away for you, a towing service likely will tow it away, and that costs money. The cost to have your car towed from the scene of the accident is a cost for which you may be compensated, as long as you have a receipt for the cost of the service.
  • Storage costs.  If your car is towed away from the scene of the accident, it has to be stored somewhere until the insurance company can assess the damage and the vehicle can be repaired. The expense incurred for storing your vehicle until it is estimated and repaired is an expense for which you can be compensated by the insurance company. Again, you will be compensated for this expense only if you have a receipt or invoice showing the specific cost of the storage.
  • Car rental.  If your vehicle is towed and stored while it is being repaired, it is possible that you will have to rent another vehicle to be able to go to work or continue your daily routine while you are without your own vehicle. If you have to rent another vehicle, you may claim this expense with the insurance company provided you can present an invoice for the expense.
  • Other transportation costs.  If you are not able to rent another vehicle, you may have to take public transportation, such as a bus, train, or subway, to continue your daily routine. These forms of transportation generally include some sort of fare that must be paid on a trip-by-trip basis. If you require public transportation for an extended period of time, you might pay for a weekly or monthly pass to use the service. Any fares, tolls, or pass fees you accumulate while taking public transportation are considered out-of-pocket expenses that you would not have otherwise incurred but for the accident caused by the other driver. You can include these expenses in your insurance claim as long as you have itemized receipts for each individual transportation expense.   
  • Travel expenses associated with treatment.  If you suffered an injury in your accident that requires ongoing or long-term treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, therapy, or other such service, you may have to travel somewhere to receive that service. That travel likely includes expenses that you have to pay out of your own pocket. For example, if you must travel long distance to obtain treatment at a facility that is far away, you might have to pay for overnight living arrangements at a hotel. Likewise, even if you only travel locally to obtain rehabilitation services or counseling, the miles you travel can accumulate quickly. If you have to pay for gas to attend your sessions on a regular basis, you could be compensated for the mileage you incur to attend your sessions.   
  • Cost of child care.  Receiving treatment after an accident may mean time away from home and away from small children. Even if you are able to remain in your home, you may not be able to tend to your small children as you need to as a result of your injuries. In these circumstances, you may have to pay for child care so that someone is able to provide for your children while you recover from your injuries. You can be compensated for any reasonable and necessary child care expenses that you can demonstrate to the insurance company.
  • Personal care expenses.  Just as you may not be able to properly care for your children as a result of your injuries, you also may not be able to properly care for yourself. If your injuries prevent you from dressing, bathing, cooking, or safely transporting yourself within your home, you may require in-home care to assist you with these daily required functions. You may be compensated for any costs associated with such care.

How Can I Demonstrate Out-of-Pocket Expenses?

It is important to understand that you may be compensated for all of these types of out-of-pocket expenses because you may begin to incur these expenses right after your accident. Because you can only recover these expenses by offering proof of the expense, you must know to save any receipts or invoices that accompany these expenses at the time they are available. It is easier to keep all of your receipts in one safe location than to try to go back to obtain a receipt that you failed to obtain at the time of the expense.

Whatever receipts or invoices you have for your out-of-pocket expenses may be presented to the insurance company with your claim. If you fail to obtain a receipt for an individual out-of-pocket expense, you will not be compensated for that expense.

Let Foster Wallace, LLC, Assist You in Claiming Out-of-Pocket Expenses

If you or someone you know have been involved in a car wreck, you may be entitled to be compensated for more money than you realize. Most likely, the insurance company will discuss with you only the typical expenses that it is responsible to cover—property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In fact, the insurance company may not even discuss all of these expenses. Some expenses that the insurance company most definitely will not discuss with you are out-of-pocket expenses. 

Brian Wallace
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Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney
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