Getting reimbursed for out of pocket expenses before final settlement?
I was involved in a car accident in which there was no police report or witnesses. The young boy admitted he was at fault until he found out he did not have insurance to get his car fixed, then said it was my fault. After weeks of investigation the boy was found to be the "At-Fault" driver.
Because it took over 2 months to get my car fixed I have a lot of out of pocket expenses I would like to be reimbursed for, such as:
-rental car expenses,
-loss of my cellphone due to the accident,
-loss of wages due to not having any more money to pay for transportation (I work 90 minutes away from my home),
-motel/hotel charges (stayed at a hotel and walked to work due to no transportation),
-my deductible and betterment charges, and
-the deep depression that this has put me in due to not having enough money to make my mortgage payment (because of all the out of pocket expenses and the hardship this has caused me).
I am not sure if I can ask for these reimbursements separately or if I should wait until I have a medical release from my doctor so we can settle on the whole claim? I really need this money now and cannot wait for my doctor to give me a medical release.
I had to take money out of my 401K to pay for all these expenses because I had no money to do so. Because of this I was penalized and taxes were taken out of my check before it was ever mailed to me. I would like to be reimbursed for any moneys I have spent out of pocket to date prior to settling anything pertaining to my injury. Is this at all possible and how do I go about doing so? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Getting reimbursed for out of pocket expenses before final settlement?":
Sheryl (Fairfield, California):
I will presume when you say the boy was found to be "at fault" you mean his insurance company accepted liability. While it would probably be better if you wait until you are released from medical treatment before settling with the insurance adjuster, there's nothing wrong with asking the adjuster for immediate reimbursement for your rental car expenses, motel charges, and replacement of your cell phone.
When you arrive at a point where you are ready to make a demand for final settlement, your demand letter will list all of your damages separately. In personal injury claims damages include your medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages (if applicable), and pain and suffering (representing your depression, anxiety, and the pain and suffering you endured).
When your case is finally settled, it won't enumerate which amounts of the settlement are applicable to each separate part of your damages. Instead, the final settlement will be one lump sum representing all your damages.
Be sure to include all your damages in your demand letter. You'll find excellent samples of demand letters here. You can include 401K penalties, deductibles, any other damages you sustained as a direct and proximate result of the boy's negligence. While the insurance company may not agree to compensate your for all your damages, it's always a good idea to include all your legitimate damages anyway.
Since laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions, you should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state (if you haven't already). Find an experienced local attorney to give you a free personal case review here.
Best of luck,