Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Your personal injuries could have significant financial costs. Doctors and hospitals charge for emergency medical treatment. Therapists charge for rehabilitation. And you will lose income as you miss work while you heal.

These expenses can have serious consequences. According to one study, over 66% of bankruptcy filers identified medical bills, illness-related job losses, or both as contributing to their financial woes. Out-of-pocket expenses can strain your situation by taking money out of your wallet.

What Are Economic Losses?

What Are Economic Losses?

South Carolina law allows you to recover two kinds of losses from a person or business that injured you. Non-economic losses cover the ways an injury reduces your quality of life. These losses, sometimes called “pain and suffering,” do not have a definitive price tag. Instead, a claims adjuster or jury awards a fair amount based on the severity and permanency of your injuries.

Economic losses include all of the financial impacts of your injury. These losses have a dollar value represented by their financial impact. 

Economic losses include expenses that you:

  • Paid
  • Were billed for but have not yet paid
  • Have not incurred but reasonably could incur in the future

Paid expenses may include a health insurance copay you had to pay before receiving treatment after a car accident. Unpaid expenses may include a doctor’s bill or medical lien you have a legal obligation to pay. Future costs include future medical expenses for procedures your doctor will recommend.

The Definition of Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Out-of-pocket expenses include only economic losses that you paid. In other words, they do not include unpaid bills, liens, or future costs. 

In addition to being paid, out-of-pocket expenses must be:

  • Reasonable
  • Necessary
  • Caused by the other party’s negligent or wrongful action

“Reasonable” means the cost was proportional to what you received. The expense was probably unreasonable if an objective person would think you overpaid.

“Necessary” means the cost bears some relationship to your injuries. A visit to a chiropractor or massage therapist for a neck injury might qualify as necessary. A full spa treatment might not.

Your injury lawyer proves causation by showing that you would not have incurred the expense if not for the at-fault party’s actions. You must also show that the actions naturally and foreseeably led to your injuries. 

You do not need to prove that the person knew you would get injured. Instead, you just need to show that they acted in a way that would likely injure someone in some way. Out-of-pocket expenses can take many forms because almost any paid expense can qualify as long as it was caused by your accident and meets the “reasonable and necessary” test. 

Costs of Medical Care

The amounts you spend to access or obtain medical care will often qualify for reimbursement.

Some examples of medical out-of-pocket costs include:

  • Health insurance copays and deductibles
  • First aid supplies, like slings and bandages
  • Durable medical equipment, like wheelchairs and home hospital beds
  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Coinsurance payments for prescription medicine

If you cannot get prescribed care or therapy near your home, your out-of-pocket expenses may include your travel costs, such as fuel, airfare, hotel, and parking. Like all out-of-pocket costs, these must pass the “reasonable and necessary” test.

Replacement Service Expenses

Your injuries might prevent you from performing household tasks you normally handle. If you hire someone to perform these services, the expenses might qualify for reimbursement. 

Some services you might need to replace include:

  • Driving
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Childcare
  • Home and auto maintenance

For example, suppose that you broke your hip in a slip and fall accident. Until you heal well enough to drive, you might need to use rideshare and taxi services for transportation. All reasonable and necessary fares would likely qualify as out-of-pocket expenses.

Home and Auto Modification Costs

You might need to modify your home or auto to accommodate any disabilities arising from your injuries. 

These modifications might include the following:

  • Bathroom grab bars
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Lowered countertops
  • Widened doors
  • Scooter car rack
  • Vehicle hand controls

The reasonableness and necessity of these modifications may depend on the nature of your disabilities. If you broke a leg and fully healed within eight weeks, home and auto modifications might not qualify as reasonable and necessary.

Property Losses

You can usually pursue compensation for property that was lost or destroyed when you were injured. Thus, your out-of-pocket expenses can include the cost of replacing your torn shirt and broken glasses after getting hit by a car in a pedestrian accident.

How Rock Hill Personal Injury Lawyers Recover Out-of-Pocket Expenses

During your initial consultation, your lawyer will likely advise you to keep track of any expenses you incur. You will need to keep records of your purchases and expenditures, such as bills, receipts, and credit card statements. Your lawyer will include this evidence with your insurance claim. If the insurer refuses to settle, an attorney can present these documents to a jury.

You might pay significant money after suffering an injury. Contact a Rock Hill personal injury lawyer at Elrod Pope Accident & Injury Attorneys at 803-324-7574 to learn how you can recover this money under South Carolina law.