Don’t Leave Money On The Table.
Many people inadvertently leave money on the table when it comes time to settle a personal injury claim. Fundamentally, you should not have any out of pocket costs for any expenses related to the accident or injury. In practice, many injury victims find themselves without full reimbursement for expenses because they did not know about their right to reimbursement, or they failed to keep proof of their expenses.
What expenses can be reimbursed
First off, the accident must not have been your fault. The insurance company for the at-fault driver will only consider reimbursements if their driver was responsible for the accident.
If you didn’t cause the accident, it is your job to determine what costs can be reimbursed, and by whom.
Any expenses which were incurred as a result of the accident should be reimbursed. In order words, if the expenses would not have happened but for the accident, then it should be covered by the at-fault insurance company. Common expenses we see are damaged clothing from the accident, cost of cancelled trips or courses due to poor health, or money spent on gardeners and snow shovellers.
You’ll note that we did not include the cost of prescriptions or rehabilitation items in the list above. This is because those that are injured during the course of a car accident will have access to accident benefits through their own insurer. Accident related costs for medical and rehabilitation will be paid by your own car insurer. Be sure to submit receipts for accident-related expenses (e.g. co-pay amounts from insurance policy, mileage to medical appointments, and prescription and over the counter medication costs)
If car insurance isn’t applicable to your claim (ie. slip & fall accident), there is likely no coverage for you to submit accident and rehabilitation costs for reimbursement. In that case, 100% of the expenses incurred because of the accident should be considered during the course of settlement discussions.
When will reimbursement occur
Expenses which are payable by your own insurer through accident benefits will be reimbursed as they are received. There is no need to wait until the end of your legal case, or until you are fully healed from the accident. The insurance company generally takes 30 days to process the expenses and send a cheque to you.
Expenses which fall to the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay will be considered during the course of settlement. Our clients are asked before any settlement discussions occur to provide us with out of pocket receipts. We assess the receipts and provide a listing of expense which we expect to be reimbued in addition to the amount claimed for injuries. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that expenses should simply be rolled the amount paid for pain and suffering. This mistake is most often made by people who have suffered minor injuries and are attempting to settle a claim on their own. The insurance adjuster may offer some percentage (or even the full) minor injury cap, but not consider additional expenses. Be sure to fight for your expenses to be paid in addition to the fair amount for your injuries.
How to prove my expenses for reimbursement
It’s fairly easy to prove expenses. Keep receipts for accident-related expenses in one spot. If you have accident-related and non-accident related costs on one receipt, feel free to highlight the ones that should be reimbursed. You may also wish to print out a google map with the route from your home to a medical appointment. The map will show the distance travelled per appointment. The distance will then be multiplied by the number of trips and then assessed at the applicable rate for travel.
Be sure to take photos of damaged goods. Expenses related to the repair or replacement of damaged goods should be detailed. Proof that the repairs or replacement is reasonable may be needed, especially if the costs is significant.
If you don’t have receipts or some other way to document the loss, you may lose out on the reimbursement. Before writing off the expense, consider whether someone else can confirm that the expense occurred (e.g. family member who was there when the expense occurred). The other person can provide a signed statement to you which can better your argument for reimbursement. At the end of the day, the burden is on you to advance evidence that the expense was incurred, reasonable, and accident related.
What to do if the insurance company refuses payment
If the insurance company has refused payment of an expense that you believe should be reimbursed, you are best to speak to a lawyer. Please contact us for a free consultation. A lawyer will review your claim and let you know how to reclaim valid expenses. Learn more about Our Process here
Learn more about Principal Lawyer and founder, Jeff Mitchell. You can reach Jeff by email or by calling NOVA Injury Law at 902.442.8853