Contesting a subrogation claim

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Contesting a subrogation claim

I slightly tapped the rear bumper of another car and when I pulled out my insurance card I realized that renewal was due 3 days prior, so at the actual time of the accident I was considered uninsured. The accident was so small and only left an indentation of the paint of her bumper. The girl I hit is claiming physical injury. I’ve spoken to her insurance company and they told me that they know it was a low impact accident but even if they thought her physical injury claims were unjustified that they would still probably settle with her for some amount just to settle her case. She is going through her uninsured motorist coverage so at some point I expect to receive a letter from a subrogation attorney. I know that you can negotiate with them and I don’t mind paying for any damage to the car but I was wondering how I would contest any physical injury claims and what my chances are on being successful. Do the subrogation attorneys take into account the realization that the insurance company probably settled the physical injury claim just to close the claim?

Asked on October 13, 2016 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, the subrogation attorney him/herself will not care why the insurer paid her--the only issue for the attorney is that they did and want to recover the money. That said, if you refuse to pay the amount they seek from you, you can force them to prove in court that you were at fault, or liable, for the injury in order to recover from you: you are only liable to the extent you were at fault. (And ou don't have to pay anything unless/until a court issues a judgment against you.) That means they must show that this minor accident causally led (i.e. caused) her injury (e.g. the injury is real; it was not pre-existing; it stemmed from the impact; it's as bad as claimed; etc.) and that the amount they paid out was justified. That is, the *attorney* does not have to care about the facts surrounding the payout, but if you refuse to pay and force them to sue, the court will care. Therefore, if it is a weak case, you have some leverage: they will not want to spend time, money, and resources pursuing, for example, $5k when the claim is only worth $1k, since they could spend as much or more as its worth. Therefore, if the case is as weak as you seem to indicate, they may well be wiling to settle for some lesser amount to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation.


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