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Understanding Car Accident Subrogation 

Do you need help filing a car accident subrogation claim? Contact an attorney from Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien in Missouri for legal counsel.

We are personal injury experts who have achieved results for our clients in Missouri for over 40 years.

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What Is Car Accident Subrogation?

Generally, a person who suffers personal injury or property damage in a car accident can file a compensation claim or lawsuit against the person who caused the accident or their insurance company. But because such third-party insurance claims often take a while to resolve, the injured party may first file an insurance claim with their auto insurance company and get payment, especially when the injuries or damage they suffered require urgent attention.

When this happens, the injured party’s insurance company may file a direct claim against the at-fault party or their insurance company to enable them to get reimbursement for the amount they released to the injured party. This process is known as subrogation.

The term subrogation is a derivative of the word “subrogate,” which means “to put in place of another” or “to substitute someone or something for another.” It is a common insurance term that refers to the right of an insurance company to legally pursue a compensation claim against a third party in place of the person (injured party) who originally had the right to claim compensation. It also allows the injured party’s insurance company to claim a share in any amount the injured party may obtain in a personal injury settlement or lawsuit, even if the injured party obtained the settlement or fought the lawsuit on their own, thereby reducing the amount of money the injured party is left with.

Subrogation is a disputed topic and is outlawed in some states. In spite of this, insurance firms often employ covert tactics, like inserting subrogation provisions into the fine print of their policies, in an attempt to claim insurance payments rightfully owed to the injured party. The validity of these actions is subject to state legislation. In instances where it isn’t permissible, the onus lies on the injured party to legally contest these maneuvers and uphold their right to compensation.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Missouri, this guide explains the personal injury subrogation laws in the state to help you understand your rights and determine whether your insurance company is acting or has acted contrary to the law. This could help you determine whether or not you need to take legal action against them to protect your entitlements. Read on to learn more.

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.

Got More Questions About Car Accident Insurance and the Subrogation Process in Missouri? Contact Skilled Attorneys at Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien for Answers

Subrogation can help your insurance company recover some of its expenses after a car accident. But it could affect your right to claim compensation or the amount you can get in a personal injury lawsuit/settlement. Hence you must ensure that the actions of your insurers are lawful so that your ability to recover compensation from the at-fault party is not jeopardized.

At Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, we are dedicated to helping victims of car accidents navigate the insurance process and obtain the maximum compensation possible. We understand how Missouri’s car insurance and subrogation laws/exceptions work, so you can rely on us to clarify any issues and advice you on your rights under the law.

Our web page showing some of our Court of Appeals Wins is a testament to our tenacity and diligence. You can expect the same level of commitment from us if you let us handle your case and protect your interests.

Contact us to discuss your concerns with one of our experienced attorneys. Let us help you secure your right to compensation.

 

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