Subrogation in car insurance can be defined as the substitution of one person or entity for another in a claim or debt settlement. It often refers to the insurance company seeking reimbursement from the party legally responsible for an accident after the insurer has already paid money on behalf of the insured. This typically includes money paid out for:
- Deductible amounts
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished value
- Property damage
While the concept of subrogation may seem daunting, its primary purpose is simply to ensure that a particular claim or debt is paid for by the person or entity actually responsible for it. It also gives specific rights to the substituted party who takes responsibility for the claim or debt.
How Does Subrogation Apply in a Car Insurance Claim?
Subrogation allows your insurer to recover all your accident costs from the insurer of the at-fault driver on your behalf—including your collision deductible. To explain how this works, we’ll break down the car accident claims process:
You Submit a Claim When You Get Into an Accident to Receive Coverage
When you purchase car insurance, you are issued a policy that states what will be covered if an accident results in property damage or personal injury. If you are involved in a car accident, and another driver was entirely at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurer typically takes care of any medical bills or repair costs.
If you have collision coverage but can’t collect from or settle with the other person’s insurance company for some reason, you may submit the claim to your insurance company. You pay your own collision deductible, and your insurer pays for the damages of the accident you did not cause.
Your Insurer Pursues Subrogation From Other Insurance Companies
Subrogation is usually the last part of the insurance claims process. It sometimes transpires between insurance companies. However, it is important to know your subrogation rights in case there is an error that either costs you money or the right to file a claim in the future.
Some important things to note during the subrogation process is:
- Your insurer should notify you that it will pursue subrogation: If your insurance company pursues subrogation, it typically informs you that it is doing so. This is important because the insurance company must recover the cost of your deductible and refund you if it can recover it successfully.
- You must cooperate with your insurance company in its attempts to pursue subrogation: This means you should not make agreements or sign waivers that release the other driver from responsibility, among other things. If you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer will also advise you to avoid admitting any form of fault, as well.
- You can still pursue compensation even if your insurer doesn’t pursue subrogation: If your insurance company does not pursue subrogation, you may still attempt to recover your deductible from the driver at fault or their insurer. It can be easier, however, to have the insurance company recover it for you.
To help keep things running smoothly, just remember to report any accidents as soon as possible and let your insurance company representative know if you choose to take any legal action.
Certain Scenarios May Require Subrogation Through Your Car Insurance
Some car accident scenarios may lend themselves more toward needing subrogation than others, such as when:
- The at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured: If the other driver does not have any or enough auto insurance coverage, you may be forced to pursue compensation through your auto insurance. Your insurer would then file an individual lawsuit against the uninsured/underinsured driver to cover the costs of your deductible and damages.
- Both drivers contributed to the accident’s cause: If both drivers were deemed at fault for the accident, you may be able to recover part of your damages through subrogation, in that you can pursue costs in proportion to your degree of fault. For example, if you were 25 percent at fault, you may be able to recover 75 percent of damages through subrogation.
- Your insurance policy covers only part of your damages: If your auto insurance policy is not sufficient enough to cover the extent of your damages, your insurer may pursue subrogation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover costs related to your deductible and damages.
If you are unsure whether your situation requires subrogation, your insurance company will inform you about how coverage will apply in your case.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you would like to pursue compensation for additional damages your insurance company does not cover, our car accident attorney will help you build a case against the appropriate liable party or parties.
Keep in mind, though, that if you decide to go this route, Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.10 limits you to two years to file a personal injury lawsuit over your accident. You should consider filing your case as soon as possible so that you can give your lawyer enough time to:
- Investigate your car accident and retrieve evidence to support your claims
- Review your auto insurance policy to see what your coverage allows
- Fill out paperwork related to your case
- Communicate with involved parties, such as the insurance companies or other attorneys
- Negotiate an out-of-court settlement to avoid having to take your case to court
If necessary, our team is prepared to present your case at trial. We will also advise you should obstacles occur and if you ever have questions about your case.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers Will Help You Pursue Compensation After an Accident
If you have been injured in a car accident, call the Fitch Law Firm LLC at (614) 545-3930 to schedule a free consultation. One of our car accident attorneys can manage your case and go over your legal options to pursue compensation, whether that involves pursuing subrogation through an insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Our attorneys work on contingency, so you do not owe any attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Get a free case review today.