What is it, and why do I need to know about it as a Plaintiff?
The concept of subrogation may seem intimidating when a client hears it for the first time; however, with a little explanation, it is an easily understandable concept. Like most legal jargon, lien subrogation sounds like a medieval torture device; but simply stated it is the replacement of one person into the position of another to enforce a legal right. In the case of personal injury claims, it is an equitable doctrine holding that when a third party (your health insurance company/Medicaid/Medicare) pays a creditor (your health service provider such as the hospital or doctor), that third party succeeds to the creditor’s rights against the debtor (the injured party). Still confused? Read on.
Why do my clients need to know what it is? Because in almost every personal injury case, the issue of subrogation exists and should be dealt with by an attorney. If you get hurt, through the fault of another, and you are treated for your injuries, your health insurance company will pay all of or portion of the medical bills arising from your treatment. As such, they place a lien on any recovery you obtain through a settlement or jury award.
In most cases these liens can be negotiated down from the actual amount to something much smaller. That is part of what I do as your attorney. In addition to trying to negotiate a fair settlement, I must also negotiate the subrogation lien with your insurance provider. Furthermore, it is my obligation to determine if there were any payments to any medical providers by collateral sources such as insurance or Medicare, and to pay back those sources out of any recovery.
This becomes even more complex when a federal entitlement program such as Medicare or Medicaid is involved, as it will trigger federal laws and rules that must be followed concerning the reporting and payment of liens from a settlement. These rules are both difficult to understand and time consuming and should be handled by an attorney familiar with this process.
If you’ve been injured and received treatment that was paid for by a collateral source, please contact me to discuss your rights, obligations and options. As always, we are here to help.
Dennis J. DiSabato, Jr.
The Law Office of Dennis J. DiSabato, Jr., LLC
3888 Renee Drive, Suite 201
Myrtle Beach, SC 29579