What is Subrogation?

If you filed a claim with an insurance adjuster after a car accident or any other type of motor vehicle accident, there are a few unusual terms that you are going to hear. One of them is “subrogation.” You may hear about it first from the claims adjuster that you’re dealing with at the insurance company. Or perhaps you’ll get a letter from your own health insurance company saying that they’ve subrogated claims or that they believe they have a right of subrogation. So, what is this that they’re talking about, and what should you do about it? Do you need a subrogation lawyer?

subrogation

Subrogation is the right to be reimbursed

Subrogation is a strange word, but it’s fairly simple. It means that someone else has purchased your legal rights from you—even if you didn’t know it! The most common situation in which this arises is when a medical insurance provider pays for your medical care after an accident. In this situation, the medical provider or the health insurance company has a right to be reimbursed by you if you receive a settlement for your personal injury claim.

When you think about it, this makes sense. Someone who pays for your medical care generally ought to be partially reimbursed for their payments if you get paid by the person who hurt you. Similarly, if a hospital or other medical provider remains unpaid for treating you after you are injured, they are usually going to try to be first in line to get reimbursed after you are compensated for those injuries.

But having said all of that, just because someone claims the right of reimbursement doesn’t mean they actually have a right to reimbursement. This is a complicated area of the law. Subrogation is what is known as an “equitable doctrine.” The insurance company or medical provider may have a right of subrogation but that right is limited by a number of important legal principles that a subrogation lawyer or personal injury attorney can help you work through.

Your Personal Injury Claim is Affected by a Subrogation Claim.

One thing people often do not realize when they are negotiating with an insurance adjuster about their personal injury claim is that these subrogation rights of other parties have to be considered when determining the proper amount of compensation for a personal injury claim. In other words, if a medical insurance provider has already paid for your medical bills, the car insurance company involved is typically going to be responsible for providing you with enough money to reimburse them for the amount of money that they paid.

Sometimes an injured party will be negotiating a settlement and believe they are going to receive a certain sum of money from the insurance company only to find out that the entire amount of money will have to be handed over to a medical provider. This should not be the case. The insurance company is responsible for compensating you for all of the injuries you’ve suffered and to make sure that there’s money left over to compensate you for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. This is where having an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you value your claim and protect you against third-party creditors is extremely important.

Do I Need a Subrogation Lawyer?

If all of this sounds a little bit confusing, don’t panic. An experienced subrogation lawyer can help you to figure out whether your personal injury claim is being properly valued by the insurance company when taking into account any right of repayment that a medical provider or medical insurance company may have.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys have extensive experience in the areas of personal injury and subrogation. Our lawyers know how to help you to compromise liens which may be placed against you and how to deal with those claiming a right of subrogation. They can help to defray the costs that would otherwise accrue you and they can help to maximize your recovery. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle crash or if you’ve been injured in another way and someone has contacted you about a right of subrogation, call us right away.

Three Things to do after a Berks County Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident in Berks County, Pennsylvania, there are three things you should consider doing right away. In this video, Attorney David Crossett breaks down immediate steps you should take.

If you’ve been injured in Berks County or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, give us a call. We’d be happy to talk with you about your case.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is the limit on how long after an injury occurs in which the injured victim may bring suit. In other words, the statute of limitations is the amount of time that you have to sue someone after they’ve hurt you. Once the statute of limitations runs out, the victim loses any rights to seek compensation from the wrongdoer.

The statute of limitations can be longer or shorter, depending on the state, and depending on the case that is being brought. In Pennsylvania, for injuries based on negligence, such as car accidents, slip and fall cases, or other cases in which someone’s failure to observe reasonable standards of care led to an injury, the statute of limitations is two years. For breach of contract, the statute of limitations is four years. In some rather unusual cases, such as lesser known common-law causes of action, the statute of limitations is six years. For claims related to privacy and defamation, the statute of limitations is only one year.

There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations bar against a lawsuit. One is called the discovery rule. If the victim did not know or have a reason to know about the injury until after the statute of limitations has run, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or delayed to allow the victim a longer stretch of time within which to bring suit. The discovery rule is narrow, and fairly limited in Pennsylvania. It will only revive the statute of limitations long enough for the person to bring suit within a reasonable time. In extremely unusual situations where a wrongdoer has intentionally misled someone about their statute of limitations, courts will sometimes invoke the “equitable tolling” doctrine which allows someone to bring suit within a reasonable time after they’ve learned of the statute of limitations. This also is a rare situation, and neither of these exceptions should be relied on by a victim except in the most exceptional of situations.

The bottom line is you typically have a fairly limited amount of time in which to bring a lawsuit if you wish to bring one. Your rights do not remain open forever and you can lose them if you don’t act quickly. Having a litigation lawyer who understands the statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania and the various equitable doctrines built on them can help you determine in which category your case properly falls. For example, depending on the type of car accident you were in, your lawsuit may actually be a breach of contract action against an insurer. Having an attorney who can walk you through these sorts of distinctions may mean the difference between successfully bringing suit or not bringing suit at all. Regardless, you’re encouraged to discuss your rights immediately with an attorney if you believe that you or a loved one have been harmed by someone else’s actions or negligence. A litigation attorney can help you sort through the many complex legal doctrines that will affect your case and help you to understand your rights. Call the attorneys at the Cornerstone Law Firm today and let us help you determine your rights.

Three Reasons to Hire a Berks County Personal Injury Lawyer

Today on the Cornerstone Law blog: When you’ve been injured in an accident in Berks County, there are a lot of decisions you need to make in processing your insurance claim. Whether your injury is from a car or motorcycle accident, or is the result of someone’s negligence, having an experienced lawyer by your side can make all the difference. Attorney David Crossett gives you three reasons you should hire a Berks County personal injury lawyer to handle your claim. Watch it below!

Medical Liens

When you’ve been in a serious car crash and experienced personal injuries as a result of the accident, one of the most overwhelming problems to manage are the ensuing medical bills that you receive. Regardless of who pays for your medical bills, or if they remain unpaid, you will likely be subject to medical liens after the accident. In this post we’re going to discuss what medical liens are and how they should be handled after a car crash, motorcycle accident, or other catastrophe that results in personal physical injuries.

When you are injured, whether you see a doctor, a chiropractor, or any other medical expert, if you are not the one paying their bills, there will be liens. Sometimes, these “liens” are placed by a medical insurance company that covers your injuries, and then “subrogates” the right to seek payment. In other instances, where the bills remain unpaid, its ultimately the hospital that is eating the costs of your medical treatment. As a result, they can continue to seek payment of these unpaid bills after you’ve obtained a settlement for your injury claim.

In any event, those who pay your medical bills, whether it’s the hospital or an insurance company, will expect to be repaid out of any personal injury settlement that you receive. Because they have paid the costs of your treatment, they have a right to be repaid out of a settlement or judgment you obtain at trial. This right operates as a “lien” on your recovery under the law. Accordingly, if you receive a personal injury settlement through your attorney or privately from the car insurance companies involved, you’re going to have to turn around and pay some of that back to the companies that paid for your treatment. This is where having an experienced personal injury attorney can help you tremendously.

What is “subrogation”?

Subrogation is an equitable legal doctrine that allows an insurance company that paid a bill to “step into the shoes” of the billing party to seek repayment. Essentially, the insurance company agrees to pay the hospital, and they take the insurance company’s right to payment as their own. So even where your medical insurance pays your bills, they can seek repayment from you if you receive a settlement of your injury claim. This is true regardless of whether the case settles or goes forward to trial.

What will a personal injury lawyer do about my medical liens?

An attorney who represents victims of car accidents can help by negotiating these liens. While the lien-holder is typically entitled to payment, there may be statutory or other reductions to these liens that you can insist on under the law. In other instances, experienced lawyers can negotiate a lower payment on the liens for other reasons. By negotiating a lower satisfaction of these liens, your recovery can be increased by eliminating some of the payments you will have to make after settlement.

Conclusion: Medical liens don’t have to be intimidating

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we help clients every day who are facing mounting medical bills and intimidating medical liens after a car crash or other accident. If you’ve been injured, call us for a free consultation on your rights. You have a limited amount of time after a crash to seek compensation, so don’t delay. Let us help you determine your rights today.

Insurance after a car accident

After a car accident, one of the most difficult things to figure out is whether your insurance or someone else’s insurance has to pay for the medical bills you’ve accumulated. Even if your insurance is paying for your bills, it can be tough to know if their “offer” to settle the case is sufficient. When an insurance company offers you a settlement for your injuries, should you take it? There are several factors to consider when you’re evaluating an offer from a car insurance company offering to settle your personal injury claims.

1. How Bad are your Injuries?

The most important inquiry in determining whether a personal injury settlement offer is appropriate is to ask how bad your injuries are. No injury is a good thing, but obviously, some physical injuries are worse than others. How long did it take you to heal? How long did you seek treatment for your personal injuries? Did you miss work or lose your job because of your injuries? In general, you are usually entitled to recover for your medical bills, your lost wages, and your pain and suffering resulting from the vehicle accident. Determining how bad these were will help determine whether an offer from your insurance company is fair.

2. Are you completely better?

One of the most important questions to ask yourself is whether you’re completely better. You should generally not accept a settlement for personal injuries from a car or other accident if you are not 100% recovered. Sometimes, the most serious injuries are lurking under the surface. If you’re still experiencing pain and lack of mobility after treatment, you should first speak to your doctor about other treatment options. Once you accept a settlement for a car accident, you are done. You will be asked to sign a release, and you won’t be able to come back for more money if it turns out the injuries are more serious than you thought. So, don’t settle if you’re not better yet! Or, if you’re statute of limitations is about to run out (see below), you may need to file suit to preserve your rights to compensation.

3. When does your statute of limitations run out?

The statute of limitations is a law that sets the time limit on when you can bring a lawsuit to recover for your injuries. You should consult an attorney about your particular case to determine when the statute runs out on you, thus limiting your right to recover for your injuries. If your statute is about to run, this will impact whether you file a lawsuit or accept an offer to settle your claim. The statute of limitations can also motivate the insurance company to make a better offer–but that’s only the case if they’re afraid you’ll file suit.

Conclusion: Call for a Free Consultation on your Injuries

In conclusion, if you’ve been injured in an accident–whether it involved a car, bus, motorcycle, bike, or any other vehicle–call us for a free consultation on your case. We can help you determine whether a settlement offered you by a car insurance company is right for your case, or whether you should fight for more compensation. Whether you were injured in an accident here in Berks County, or anywhere in Pennsylvania, Maryland or New Jersey, we can help you determine what to do next.