If our vehicle was totaled and the insurer paid the damages but we had to pay back some of the money in order to keep our vehicle, can we sue the at-fault driver?

We were in a accident that was deemed the other driver’s fault. The damages were such that the insurance company totaled our vehicle. When it paid us, we had to pay part of the money back in order to keep our vehicle. Can we sue the individual for the money we had to pay back for our car?

Asked on November 29, 2011 under Accident Law, Iowa


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is nothing prohibiting you from suing the driver of the other vehicle for damages that you sustained as the result of the automobile accident that your insurance carrier paid the great bulk for. There is this rule of law called the collateral source rule that prohibits the other driver from claiming that your insurance carrier paid your damages and as a result you cannot pursue your claim as to him or her.

However, you may be faced with a situation where your insurance carrier is suing the driver of the other vehicle to receive back moneys paid you from the accident. Such a claim is called a "subrogation claim".

You can make a claim against the driver of the other vehicle for lost wages, medical bills as well as pain and suffering, called general damages.

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