When a driver gets injured in a car accident caused by an at-fault driver, especially one who is uninsured or underinsured, the injured driver often has to seek compensation from his own insurance company. In some cases, the injured driver may also negotiate a settlement with the negligent driver. However, before accepting a settlement, the injured driver is required to follow certain steps under Florida law to ensure that he does not negatively affect his insurance company’s right to subrogation.
Subrogation refers to a right that a party may have to recover an amount it has paid to another by seeking the money from the party that caused the injury. In the car accident context for example, imagine an at fault driver causes an accident and driver A is injured. Driver A receives benefits from his insurance company for some of his injuries and property damage. Driver A’s insurance company is allowed to recover the payments it makes to driver A by suing the at fault driver. The right of the insurance company to seek this reimbursement by suing the at-fault driver is the insurance company’s right to subrogation.
Subrogation usually takes place behind the scenes between insurance companies. The injured driver who receives benefits from his insurance company may not hear about the insurance company’s efforts to get its money back from the at fault driver or his insurance company.
If the injured driver negotiates a settlement with the at-fault driver or his insurance company, the injured driver he has to inform his uninsured motorist insurance carrier within a certain time and allow the carrier the opportunity to approve the settlement. The settlement may affect the carrier’s right to subrogation, and therefore, the carrier should be given an opportunity to exercise these rights or waive them.
The right to subrogation may apply to any recovery the injured driver receives from a wide range of sources however, not all insurance carriers have a right to subrogation. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) payments for example, are not usually subject to subrogation. However, the terms of an insurance policy can vary, and it is best for the injured driver to review his policy for language regarding the insurer’s right to subrogation.
Failure to inform the insurance carrier that an offer of settlement has been made could mean that the injured driver is in breach of his contract with the insurance company. The driver may be required to repay any funds received under the insurance policy. In order to ensure that the injured driver does not do anything to affect the insurance company’s rights, he should always discuss the terms of any settlement with an experienced attorney and ensure that he is not waiving any rights that can be exercised by the insurance company.
Contact an Experienced Attorney who Deals with Insurance Companies
If you have suffered serious or permanent injuries following a car accident, you need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you receive compensation from all the sources from which you are entitled to receive compensation. For more information, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida for a free consultation.