All You Need to Know About Subrogation in California Auto Accident Cases

One aspect of the auto accident claims process, known as subrogation, may seem complicated, but your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you navigate each step with greater clarity and confidence.

Car accident injuries can wreak havoc on your life. Suddenly, you face a long and painful physical recovery, financial stress about the medical bills piling up, and the unanticipated mental and emotional fallout resulting from the accident. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and depleted during this challenging time, but you should recognize that you do not have to face it alone. Enlisting the support of a knowledgeable and compassionate Riverside County auto accident lawyer is the best way to ensure you can recover the compensation you need to support your physical and economic recovery. One aspect of the auto accident claims process, known as subrogation, may seem complicated, but your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you navigate each step with greater clarity and confidence. Below is a brief overview of the subrogation process and how Southern California car accident victims can take steps to maximize their settlement offer.

What is Subrogation?

The term “subrogation” refers to the “right held by most insurance carriers to legally pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured.” In practice, it usually means that your insurance company will pay you for your losses, and then it will seek to recover this amount from the at-fault party’s carrier. For instance, if you suffered an auto accident injury, you’ll want to recover compensation as quickly as possible to help cover the costly medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses stemming from the incident. Your auto insurance company may step in and provide payment directly to you before your personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party moves forward. The subrogation process allows your insurance company to receive payment from the at-fault party to make up for the payments it provided to you initially.

Common Examples Where Subrogation May Apply

Subrogation may apply in any instance in which a party made a payment to an individual or party who was not primarily responsible for the incident. Many personal injury claims, including auto accident claims, may involve subrogation. Below are just a few situations in which subrogation may be used.

Medical Pay Subrogation

Some auto insurance policies include Medical Pay (Med-Pay), which allows you to submit your medical bills from an auto accident injury to your auto insurance company. Med-Pay provides an additional source of funds to cover the costs of medical treatment you require after suffering an auto accident injury. Once you recover compensation from the at-fault party, a portion of your settlement will be used to reimburse your auto insurance company. Essentially, Med-Pay “loans” an injured victim money for medical treatment, which the policyholder repays once they obtain compensation from the at-fault party.

Uninsured Motorist Accidents

If you were struck and injured by an uninsured motorist, your uninsured motorist coverage could help you cover the costs associated with your required medical treatment. Most insurance contracts include a subrogation clause that states their right to recover the amount they paid you from the person responsible for the accident. The insurance company can exercise its subrogation right by seeking compensation from the uninsured motorist who caused your accident injuries. For instance, if your auto insurance company provided you compensation for your medical bills, it has the right to pursue compensation from the uninsured driver to make up for these costs. It’s important to note that even if the insurance company is unsuccessful in recovering the money, you will still be able to keep these funds.

Understanding California’s Made Whole Doctrine

California law recognizes that the accident victim and their insurance company are usually pursuing the same source of compensation from the at-fault party. The Made Whole Doctrine establishes that a settlement must compensate the accident victim before reimbursing the insurance carrier. For instance, if your Med-Pay covers $1,000 of your medical treatment after suffering an auto accident injury, but your total damages are $15,000, and the at-fault party only pays you a $10,000 settlement, you can use the Made Whole Doctrine to claim that your insurance company should not receive the $1,000 reimbursement, as your recovered settlement falls short of your total damages. It’s important to recognize that language in your auto insurance contract may overrule your right to invoke the Made Whole Doctrine.

Consult a Trusted Temecula Auto Accident Lawyer Today

If you have sustained an auto accident injury due to another party’s reckless or negligent behavior, you have the right to pursue compensation for the medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses resulting from this incident. Working with an experienced Murrieta auto accident lawyer is the best way to ensure you maximize your settlement offer and recover the compensation you need to get your life back on track. Let your attorney advocate on your behalf while you focus on what matters most—your physical recovery.

 

Call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to discuss your auto accident claim with a trusted and experienced Temecula auto accident lawyer.