Most people involved in an auto accident in Florida do not realize that if they do not have auto insurance and the accident is their fault, the other party’s insurance company can sue them for the money it paid out in property damage. Many of these callers are surprised when they receive suit papers many years later for an auto or truck accident in which no one sustained a personal injury, yet they are being sued for thousands of dollars, either for property damage or for medical bills paid by an insurance company. The insurance company is exercising its right to subrogation, which means the insurance company is substituting itself for the actual party involved in the auto accident and collecting the money for the damage done to that individual’s property. The individual has already paid pursuant to their insurance contract with that person, and is now owed fees.
Sometimes this leaves people wondering how is this possible, and rightfully so! The insurance company is exercising its right to subrogation, which means the insurance company is substituting itself for the actual party involved in the auto accident and collecting the money for the damage done to that individual’s property (for which they have already paid pursuant to their insurance contract with that person).
What is Subrogation?
Subrogation is an equitable doctrine in Florida and throughout the country. The purpose of subrogation is to provide relief against loss and damage to a creditor who has paid the debt of another and preventing people needlessly paying for other people’s mistakes. What does that mean? It means if someone else pays your bill and you are compensated by the wrongdoer for that bill, the person who paid that bill for you — usually an insurance company — has to be paid back.
The most common example we see is health insurance. When you get in a car accident, your health insurer often pays your bills. The at-fault driver’s insurance company also pays your bills. Florida law typically requires you to compensate the insurance company for the money that they spent. Luckily, we at Stephen Barker Law are often able to negotiate substantial reductions in that amount.
Let’s get into how this is fair. The insurance companies are stealing money from accident victims who have more of a right to that money than the insurance companies. Why does it matter that there was an accident involved? That is what you are paying premiums for in the first place, right? Unfortunately, Florida law does not see it that way. The law sees it from a freedom of contract perspective. These insurance companies all have contractual language obligating you to pay back the money they pay you if you collect that money from another source.
What Is the Solution to This Problem?
Our lawyers deal with this issue all of the time. We have developed a lot of tactics to reduce and even eliminate health insurance liens. What if your case is too small for a lawyer? You should contact the insurance company’s lawyer and try to negotiate a settlement on your own without a lawyer. The insurance company’s lawyer is sometimes authorized to accept pennies on the dollar to settle these cases in an effort to save the insurance company the time and effort of trying to collect a judgment it obtains.
If you want answers, please reach out to us at Stephen Barker Law and we can help you get your case in order today!