Personal Injury Cases and Subrogation

Date: June 27, 2014
Author: Nicholas Tidwell

I will continue future posts related to the adoption process, but presently, I would like to highlight an area of my personal injury practice that arises in many, if not all, cases.

Personal Injury Cases and SubrogationWhile I have had the privilege of serving clients in slip and fall cases and other premise liability matters, many personal injury cases involve automobile collisions. Sadly, some of these are wrongful death matters. In almost all car wreck cases, insurance will be an issue, and when insurance comes into the picture, subrogation interests may arise. Black's Law Dictionary defines "subrogation" as "the substitution of one party for another whose debt the party pays, entitling the paying party to rights, remedies, or securities that would otherwise belong to the debtor." Come again, please?

Here is a scenario that might help illustrate how subrogation interests often work out in actual cases...

Millie was obeying the rules of the road and maintaining her vehicle in a safe manner. She was stopped at a traffic light waiting for it to turn green. Suddenly, her vehicle was struck from behind by another driver (Pete), resulting in her being injured. Millie was transported to the hospital by ambulance and was diagnosed and received treatments for whiplash. When Millie arrived at the hospital, her health insurance card was provided to the facility. Millie's health insurance provider paid funds to the hospital for services she received.

Ultimately, a settlement was reached with the automobile insurance carrier for Pete since he was at fault for causing the collision. Because Millie was not at fault for the wreck and her health insurance provider paid for her healthcare, Millie was contractually obligated to repay her health insurance company because she recovered from Pete's automobile insurance company. Millie's health insurance company had what is known as a subrogation interest.

*This is especially important to note when Medicare is the primary insurance provider for a client. Medicare has a subrogation interest in personal injury matters, and insurance companies may be penalized if these interests are not considered.

In any personal injury case, it is important to consult with an attorney to make sure your rights are addressed. At Fidelis Law, we assist clients by helping them through the process, including assessing and negotiating subrogation interests.