If you receive payments from both your insurer and the other party’s insurance company, must you one pay back?

UPDATED: Jun 14, 2011

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If you receive payments from both your insurer and the other party’s insurance company, must you one pay back?

I was paid for an accident the occurred in ME when my car was parked. Both my insurance company and the other vehicle’s insurance company sent me checks. Now, I am being threatened that the RVM will be used to withhold my license and registration renewals. But, way back in college one of my instructors told us that if someone sends you a check in your name and you cash it, it does not obligate you in any way. Please let me know if I am legally obligated to pay this money back.

Asked on June 14, 2011 under Accident Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Your college instructor, unfortunately was wrong--or maybe you misunderstood him or her. As a general matter, if someone offers you payment to do something and you take the payment, you do obligate yourself, though there are some exceptions. This, however, is NOT one of them. You are *not* entitled to double compensation for the same loss--you are only entitled to receive 100% of what is coming to you, not 200%. If extra payment was made to you mistakenly, whether by one party accidentally paying you twice or by another party, you have to return the overpayment; the fact of some error being made in your favor does not entitle you to keep the money.

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