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What is subrogation in a car accident claim?

Many Floridians are no doubt aware that the law has a language of its own. Whether terms from Latin, such as 'caveat emptor,' or regular English words that are rarely used in other contexts, lawyers and other professionals have to have a command of style of communication that can be opaque to those with different specialties. One such term that victims of car accidents may encounter as they wend their way through the process of pursuing compensation is subrogation.

On a basic, literal level, subrogation simply means standing in the place of someone else. That, by itself however, may not do enough to explain the use of the term in the context of a liability action stemming from an automobile wreck. It may help for Florida residents to understand that subrogation most often comes into play when talking about the role of insurance companies in such cases.

Because most people involved in car accidents in the United States have some form of insurance, their damages may have been covered, at least in part, by payments from an insurance company. Because of this, if that same person recovers damages in a lawsuit against a negligent driver or other responsible party, he or she will be being paid twice for the same injury. In this case, the innocent third party that made payment (i.e. the insurance company) may be able to collect the damages that would normally be awarded to the victim, at least up to the amount paid out. In other words, the victim's right to the award is subrogated to the insurance company, who stands in the place of the victim with regard to that award.

Now, subrogation rights can become very complicated very quickly in injury cases, especially during settlement negotiations. Car accident victims being told that entities have subrogation claims against them may wish to consider consulting an experienced injury attorney to determine what, if any, claims these entities have on their potential settlements or awards.

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