If you are involved in a car accident, you will likely hear the term “subrogation” mentioned by medical providers, insurance companies, or attorneys. While subrogation issues can be extremely complex, the term means that one party stands in the place of another. This principle is important when pursuing a lawsuit or insurance claim following a collision because the right to pursue a legal claim belongs to the party who suffered property damage, bodily injury, or other forms of loss. The principle of subrogation permits third-parties to assert a legal claim in the place of the injured party under certain circumstances.
By way of example, a nineteen-year-old college student gets into a collision when a drunk driver T-bones him. If the college student decides not sue the drunk driver because he is a friend, his grandmother cannot simply bring a lawsuit because she is outraged by the intoxicated driver’s conduct. In such a situation, the nineteen year-old has “standing” to make a claim, while the grandmother does not. Subrogation rules permit the injured party to assign his or her rights to pursue legal remedies to another party. Effectively, the principle of subrogation permits an injury victim to empower a party to pursue a lawsuit who would not otherwise have the standing to do so.
A common example of subrogation in the context of an auto accident involves medical bills. If you file a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages from the other party, medical expenses will be a component of your settlement or jury verdict. However, if you have health insurance, your carrier may pay some or all of your medical expenses. Some health insurance carriers, depending on what type of plan you have, may be entitled to reimbursement out the proceeds of your monetary recovery in your personal injury case. However, in Georgia, not all health insurance plans are entitled to reimbursement from your case, even if they are claiming that they are.
Health insurance subrogation law is a complex area of state as well as Federal law and is ever-changing. Moreover, health insurance reimbursement claims are often negotiable. Our attorneys routinely negotiate lower bills and liens amounts with medical providers and health insurance carriers in order to maximize the value of our clients’ monetary recoveries.
Common Scenarios in Auto Accident Litigation That Might Involve Subrogation
The issue of subrogation also frequently arises in the context of uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) claims. If the other driver does not have insurance or has insufficient coverage to compensate you for the full amount of your loss, you can pursue a claim against your auto insurance company under the UM/UIM coverage provision. When a policyholder obtains UM/UIM benefits under his or her policy, the insurance company may pursue a lawsuit against the other driver to recover some or all of the compensation the carrier paid to its own insured. Although you are not technically a party in this type of lawsuit between your insurance company and the negligent driver, you may have to cooperate with your insurance company by testifying in a deposition and at trial.