Auto Accident Subrogation in Missouri
Generally, car accident subrogation claims or clauses in Missouri are considered unlawful and contrary to the state’s public policy. This is because, under Missouri law, only the victim of a car accident or their dependents/personal representatives, in some cases, can pursue a claim for compensation from the at-fault driver or their auto insurance provider. Such claims cannot be assigned to third parties, including insurance companies.
This means that if a car accident victim’s insurance company pays for medical expenses and other associated costs from the car accident, the insurance company cannot step into the victim’s shoes and seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company. As such, it is unlawful for a car insurance company to do any of the following;
- require a car accident victim to sign an agreement to reimburse the insurance company if the victim obtains a personal injury judgment or settlement against the at-fault driver or their insurance company;
- require the injured party to grant them any right over their personal injury claim.
Sometimes insurance companies may refuse to process their subscriber’s claim for medical bills or related expenses after a car accident unless the victim signs an agreement agreeing to subrogation. If you are in such a situation, you can take a cue from the plaintiff in Hays v. Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and file a lawsuit against your insurers with the help of Insurance Claim Attorneys.
The decision of the Missouri Court of Appeals, in that case, is proof that such agreements are void and that it is unlawful for an insurance company to refuse to process a person’s claim unless they signed a subrogation agreement.
Exceptions to Missouri’s Car Accident Subrogation Laws
The rule prohibiting subrogation in Missouri is not absolute, and there are some exceptions under which an insurance company’s subrogation claim may be legal. Such exceptions flow from the provisions of federal and state law and include the following ;
Subrogation Exceptions Under Missouri State Law
Under Missouri’s uninsured motorist statute, an insurance company that pays out money to an injured party who was involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver is entitled to share in the proceeds of any settlement or judgment obtained from the uninsured driver.
The state runs a Tort Victims’ Compensation Fund to support those who have been unable to get compensation from those who injured them. Under the law, the state has a right of subrogation over the claim of any victim who benefits from the fund and can pursue compensation from the at-fault party in the victim’s place. If the victim eventually gets compensation from the at-fault party, the state can also recover the amount spent from the money the victim recovered.
Under the state’s workers’ compensation law, an employer is liable for work injuries sustained by their employee(s) and must compensate an injured employee accordingly. But if, after making such payments, it is found that a third party was responsible for the injury, the law grants the employer a right of subrogation and a stake in any settlement or judgment sum obtained from the at-fault party.
Subrogation Exceptions Under Federal Law
The Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA) allows the federal government to negotiate group health insurance plans with insurance carriers to provide benefits for federal government employees. The Act allows for subrogation and contains a “preemptive clause” that puts its provisions above any state law that could affect insurance coverage programs negotiated under the Act.
This means that an insurance carrier who pays out funds after a car accident to an injured person who is insured under a FEHBA insurance plan has a right of subrogation and a stake in any compensation obtained by an injured party all over the country, including Missouri.
Sometimes it could be difficult to tell when any of the subrogation exceptions apply or when you need to Sue a Car Insurance Company in Missouri for making a subrogation claim. Instead of ignoring the issue, consider contacting skilled Insurance Litigation attorneys who can assess your case and help you determine whether the insurance company has acted or is acting unlawfully.