Car accidents often come out of nowhere. One minute, you are driving your vehicle to work, and the next minute you are stunned and overwhelmed in the aftermath of the collision. Suddenly, you face a long and difficult physical recovery, as well as unexpected financial obligations. As you start to take the steps necessary to get your life back on track, you may find yourself navigating complex and frustrating communications with auto insurance companies. Even though your auto insurance company may claim to be on your side, their loyalty lies in protecting the company’s bottom line. You may struggle with an insurance adjuster who is attempting to deny you the compensation you need to support your physical recovery, making this already difficult time even more overwhelming and stressful. One aspect of the auto accident claims process, called subrogation, can be especially tricky to navigate on your own. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced Riverside County auto accident attorney is the best way to feel supported and empowered at every step of the process. Your lawyer will remain at your side to push for a fair and favorable settlement offer. Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions about the subrogation process in Southern California so you can prepare to face the upcoming negotiation process with greater clarity and confidence.
What Does Subrogation Mean in California?
In California, subrogation refers to the “right held by most insurance carriers to legally pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured.” Essentially, this means that your insurance company will cover your losses and then seek to recover this amount from the insurance carrier of the party responsible for causing the accident. For instance, you will want to obtain compensation as soon as possible after suffering a car accident injury so you can start to pay down your medical bills, physical therapy expenses, and other costs related to the collision. The subrogation process allows your insurance company to pay you directly before you move forward with a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party; once your insurance company has provided you with this payment, it will seek to obtain payment from the party responsible for the accident in return.
What is Medical Pay Subrogation?
If your insurance policy includes Medical Pay (Med-Pay), you can submit any medical bills associated with the accident directly to your auto insurance company. Med-Pay enables you to secure an alternative source of funds to cover the expenses stemming from any medical procedures or treatment you needed following the accident (i.e., surgery, physical examination, treatment for a broken bone, etc.). When you win the personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, a portion of the settlement will be allocated to reimburse your car insurance company for the funds they paid you upfront. It’s helpful to think of Med-Pay as a way for your insurance company to “loan” you the money you need for your medical bills. Once you recover compensation from the party held liable for causing the collision, you will direct some amount of this settlement to repay your auto insurance company.
What is California’s “Made Whole” Doctrine?
Following a collision, an auto accident victim and their insurance company are both seeking compensation from the party responsible for causing the crash. To acknowledge this, California’s Made Whole Doctrine asserts that an auto accident settlement must first compensate the injured before any funds reach their insurance carrier. For example, if your Med-Pay coverage applies to $1,000 of the medical treatment you received for a car accident injury and your total damages amount to $15,000, but the at-fault party compensates you only $10,000, you can invoke the Made Whole Doctrine to justify why your insurance company should be denied the $1,000 reimbursement. Since your settlement is significantly less than the amount of total damages incurred by the accident, you can argue that the Made Whole Doctrine allows you to deny the insurance company the $1,000 it wants to recover. However, some auto insurance contracts may include language that overrules your legal right to invoke the Made Whole Doctrine. Discuss the specifics of your situation with a trusted and experienced Temecula attorney to learn more.
What About Car Accidents Involving Uninsured Motorists?
Many car insurance contracts include a subrogation clause that gives the insurance company the right to recover money from the at-fault party to cover the compensation it provided its policyholder who suffered physical injuries in an accident involving an uninsured driver. If you were struck and injured by an uninsured motorist, your auto insurance company could compensate you for the medical bills stemming from the injuries you suffered as a result. After your insurance company has helped you cover these costs, it can invoke its right to subrogation by pursuing compensation from the at-fault party. It’s essential that you understand you have the right to keep the compensation you receive, even in the event that your insurance company is unable to recover the money from the uninsured motorist who caused the accident.
Do I Need to Work With an Attorney to Recover Compensation?
Although you are not required to hire an attorney to recover compensation following an auto accident, doing so is highly recommended. Enlisting the guidance of a seasoned and caring Murrieta auto accident lawyer is the best way to maximize your settlement offer. Your attorney knows how to negotiate with insurance companies, working hard to secure you the compensation you need to get back on your feet after an accident. What’s more, just knowing that you have a dedicated legal advocate in your corner to guide you through every step of the claims process can give you the reassurance and confidence you need to move forward. Reach out to a knowledgeable and supportive attorney today to get started.
Reach out to Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to speak with a dedicated and caring Temecula auto accident attorney.