Let’s say, for example, you’ve been in an accident in California. Your car insurance company may help you pay your medical bills in your time of need if you don’t have health insurance. The only problem is that they are entitled to ask for this money back once you’ve received your lawsuit settlement. With the help of a lawyer who understands the Made Whole Doctrine, you may be able to hold onto that settlement money.
California state law upholds the Made Whole Doctrine. This doctrine states that the insured individual must be “made whole” before their insurance company can take money. This doctrine prevents the insurer from requiring payments from the person who injured you or damaged your belongings unless you have been adequately compensated.
Examples of this doctrine in effect include Sapiano v. Williamsburg Ins. Co., (1994) 28 CA 4th 533, 538 and Progressive West Ins. Co. v. Yolo County Superior Court, (2005) 135 CA 4th 263, 273.
In order to better understand the Made Whole Doctrine, it’s important to get a basic understanding of California’s subrogation laws.
What Are California’s Subrogation Laws?
Because insurance companies have their own set of reimbursement (subrogation) rights, California state law permits that an insurer can be reimbursed for money they pay out on behalf of a policyholder.
Subrogation occurs when the insurer pays out money on the insured behalf. In order to get that money back, the insurer will seek to have their money reimbursed by either the insured policyholder or the insurance company of the at-fault party who caused the damages in the first place.
For example, if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident but don’t have health insurance, you likely will need extensive medical care. Your emergency room bill and medical treatment bill will be given to your car insurer. The insurer will be for these damages. When you contact an attorney to hold the negligent party accountable, you may receive a settlement from the personal injury lawsuit. Your insurance company will then demand that you repay the emergency room bill and medical treatment bill, now that you’ve received a sum of money.
Under California state subrogation law, it’s lawful for an insurance company to seek to recoup the money they demanded. When this happens, your lawyer will apply the Made Whole Doctrine.
Your attorney will defend you before a judge, stating that your insurance company is not entitled to the money they’re asking for back, because you have not yet been “made whole”. For example, your attorney will attest that settlement from the car accident did not settle the cost of your future medical care.
Why Should I Work With A Lawyer If I’ve Been Involved In An Accident In California?
Most California residents know that a lawyer can help defend them before a judge by proving the negligence of the at-fault party after an accident. But many residents fail to realize that even after the case is settled, the work isn’t always done. Hire a lawyer to apply the Made Whole Doctrine to your personal injury claim to ensure you can keep all of the money you’re rightfully entitled to.
When you need an attorney to aggressively fight your insurance company, choosing the right law firm is the most important decision you will make. At McKennon Law Group PC, we understand how important it is to keep the money you’ve earned from your settlement in your pocket. We have extensive experience standing up against insurance companies, and will stop at nothing to get what you deserve.
With over 70 years of experience, McKennon Law Group PC has specialized in long-term disability and short-term disability insurance, life insurance, health insurance, accidental death insurance, and long-term care claims, as well as all types of ERISA litigation claims involving employee benefits, including group insurance claims, pension claims and severance claims.
Schedule A Free, No-Obligation Consultation With McKennon Law Group PC
If you’ve suffered an accident of any kind in California, you likely have medical bills to pay. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to shell out the least amount of money to injured victims. In some cases, your car insurance company will provide you with the help you need to pay medical bills if you don’t have health insurance, but they do have every right to ask for that money back.
If you find yourself in a situation where an insurance company is trying to take a portion of your personal injury lawsuit settlement, contact an attorney right away. At McKennon Law Group PC, we offer a free, no-risk consultation to anyone in this situation. Your initial case evaluation is free of charge and comes at no obligation to you.