While negotiating with insurance companies or going to court may feel like the most overwhelming part of the legal process after a car accident, a victim’s journey may not end there. Once compensation is awarded, others may try to claim some of that money as their own. A third party may demand repayment of expenses related to your accident. Subrogation is one of the most common ways that accident victims can lose some of the injury compensation they need and deserve.
What Is Subrogation?
Subrogation means, in the legal sense, that one party claims the legal rights of another party. Typically a health insurance company claims the rights of the injured party in the following situation: When a person is injured, his own health insurance company may pay his medical expenses related to the accident. Later, when the victim receives accident compensation, part of that compensation would likely have been awarded to cover medical expenses. If the victim did not pay any out-of-pocket medical expenses because his own health insurance covered them, that money will go back to the insurance company. Otherwise, the victim is essentially paid twice—once when his own insurance company paid his medical expenses and again when the at-fault driver’s insurance settles the claim.
Accident Victims’ Rights and Subrogation
While subrogation is legal and insurance companies do exercise this right, it is still important for accident victims and their families to understand their own rights and ensure they are protected. An experienced attorney may be able to mitigate subrogation by working with the insurance company to anticipate the amount that may be subrogated. This way, they can potentially minimize costs, and they can consider that figure when negotiating with the at-fault’s driver’s insurance company or navigating litigation.
It is also important to note that subrogation is not the same as balance billing, a practice in which hospitals seek payment from the patient after they agree to accept a discounted payment from insurance. Balance billing is illegal in a number of states but is practiced in Alaska.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident, you do have the right to be made whole through a personal injury claim. You deserve compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Attorney Ben Crittenden has helped many injured Alaskans protect this right and secure the compensation they need to recover as fully as possible. Talk with Ben today to find out how he may be able to help you by calling his Anchorage office or filling out the contact form on this page.