If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence and you filed a claim or a lawsuit, you may know about subrogation. If not, keep reading, because if you’re injured, you may need to know.
Under Indiana law, when you suffer a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation for your lost wages, your medical expenses, and all related damages.
But personal injury victims usually must prove that they are entitled to compensation, and that is not always easy.
IF YOU ARE INJURED BY NEGLIGENCE, HOW CAN YOU BE COMPENSATED?
Here in Indiana, winning compensation for a personal injury claim begins when you consult an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.
Indiana law defines negligence as someone’s failure to extend to another the “duty” of care that a reasonable, ordinary person would extend in a similar situation – a failure that causes an injury.
Of course, if you are injured by someone’s negligence, you must seek medical treatment at once, but then it is imperative to obtain a personal injury lawyer’s advice and representation.
The matter of subrogation may emerge later, when the details regarding your compensation are sorted out. It can be a complicated legal principle, but the basic definition is fairly simple.
WHAT IS SUBROGATION?
Literally, subrogation is when a person or party stands in the place of another person or party.
Legally, subrogation lets a party with no liability for your injuries – for example, your own insurance company – compensate you and then seek repayment from the party that actually has liability.
Still, and even in the simplest personal injury cases, subrogation can raise some thorny legal questions, so your personal injury attorney should be thoroughly familiar with subrogation issues.
Your attorney should be able to explain how subrogation can affect your personal injury case and in what way it may impact any awards, benefits, settlements, or verdicts you might receive.
WHAT IS A “COLLATERAL” SOURCE?
A party that pays compensation to a personal injury victim but has no liability is referred to as a collateral source. It is often an insurance company and sometimes an agency of the government.
Here is a basic example of how subrogation works and the role of collateral sources:
Let’s say you are injured when you slip and fall on spilled milk at a supermarket. Your health insurance company compensates your healthcare provider with $10,000 for your treatment.
In this example, your health insurance company is a collateral source. The company now has the legal right to be repaid by the supermarket’s liability insurer – a subrogation right.
That is why your health insurance company may ask a lot of questions if you file an injury claim.
Insurance companies want to know if paying for your treatment establishes a subrogation right and if a payment can be recouped.
WHO MAY ASSERT A SUBROGATION RIGHT?
Subrogation is supposed to help maintain lower insurance rates by allowing insurance companies to recover some of the payments they make.
But health insurance companies aren’t the only ones who may have legal subrogation rights in Indiana personal injury cases.
Federal and state benefit programs for the injured and disabled almost always require repayment when another party is deemed responsible for a benefit recipient’s injury or disability.
Subrogation claims are routinely pursued, for example, by Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and by most states’ worker’s compensation programs and disability assistance programs.
WHY IS SUBROGATION SOMETIMES SO COMPLICATED?
The concept seems straightforward, but subrogation can get extraordinarily complicated when a third-party product liability or personal injury lawsuit is settled outside of the courtroom.
Such a private settlement may impact the injured victim’s right to continue receiving payments. It may also affect any obligation a collateral source has to make ongoing benefit payments.
When a third-party lawsuit of this nature is settled out of court, any non-settling party has to be informed in advance of the impending settlement.
HOW CAN SUBROGATION IMPACT A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT?
Here’s an example of how subrogation can affect a third-party lawsuit:
You are hurt on the job because you used defective safety equipment. You receive workers’ comp payments and you sue the equipment manufacturer, who settles swiftly to avoid publicity.
In such a case, any part of a settlement that covers damages already paid by workers’ comp must be repaid to the employer or to the workers’ comp insurance carrier, who has a subrogation right.
If you’re being compensated by any collateral source while you pursue a personal injury claim, it is important to have your lawyer explain the subrogation issues that may come into play.
WHAT IS IMPERATIVE FOR EVERY INDIANA DRIVER TO KNOW?
One fact regarding subrogation is imperative for every Indiana motorist to understand. It’s this:
If you’re injured by a negligent driver, do not agree to or sign any settlement with that driver’s auto insurance company before you seek advice from an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.
Some auto insurance companies try to include a clause in their settlement documents that will legally stop your own insurance company from claiming a subrogation right.
If you sign a settlement, your insurance company will not be able to pursue reimbursement and will probably reject your injury claim.
And in some personal injury cases, multiple parties may assert subrogation rights. If this happens, you will absolutely need a good personal injury lawyer to sort out the confusion.
HOW CAN A GOOD LAWYER HELP?
What you’re reading is only an introduction to the topic of subrogation. In some personal injury cases, it is not even an issue.
But in other cases, subrogation questions can get exceedingly complicated, and you must have a knowledgeable lawyer’s insights and direction.
If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence in the state of Indiana, reach out for legal help – as quickly as you can – to a good personal injury lawyer.
COMPENSATION – AND JUSTICE – ARE YOUR RIGHTS
A good lawyer will explain and protect your rights, outline your options and alternatives, and advocate aggressively for the compensation – and for the justice – that are rightfully yours.
And particularly if you’re receiving payments from a collateral source – that is, a source that is not the negligent party who injured you – get an attorney’s advice about subrogation.
In a personal injury case, your health and your future are at stake. Talk to your attorney, and do not let a subrogation problem keep you from acquiring the compensation you need and deserve.