What You Need to Know About Georgia Subrogation Claims
Subrogation claims ensure that an individual does not get paid twice in a personal injury case. Here’s everything you need to know about subrogation claims in Georgia.
In Georgia, insurance companies can make subrogation claims to claim their share of personal injury settlements. Georgia law protects injured individuals by limiting when insurers can make subrogation claims and how much they can claim.
What is a Subrogation Claim in Georgia?
In Georgia, a subrogation claim allows an insurer, employer, or government agency to collect their fair share of a legal case or settlement.
After an injury, an insurer, employer, or government agency may pay an individual’s medical expenses. The injured individual might also sue a liable third party who causes the injury. A Georgia court can order this third party to pay the individual’s medical bills. As a result, the injured person receives twice as much money as they spend on medical bills (once from the insurer and once from the liable third party).
To solve this problem, Georgia lets insurers, employers, or government agencies submit a subrogation claim. A subrogation claim is when an insurer/employer/government agency claims a portion of the money a liable third party pays to an injured individual.
Typically this money would go straight to the injured individual, but if the insurer/employer/government agency submits a subrogation claim, they may receive part of the money.
In Georgia, a subrogation claim cannot exceed the amount an insurer/employer/government agency pays an injured individual.
How Does a Georgia Subrogation Claim Work?
Let’s imagine Jim is an employee at Movers Moving Company. While Jim is loading a Movers truck, negligent Nancy runs over his toe with her car. Jim spends $5,000 to treat his injured toe.
Jim qualifies for worker’s compensation, so Movers reimburses him for the $5,000 medical bill. Nancy drove negligently, so Jim files a lawsuit against her. Jim wins the case, and a Georgia court orders Nancy to pay Jim $5,000 for his medical expenses.
In this situation, Movers can file a $5,000 subrogation claim. After filing the claim, Movers collects the $5,000 from Nancy. In the end, Nancy pays $5,000 for Jim’s medical bills while Jim and Movers break even.
Georgia’s “Made Whole” Doctrine
Georgia’s “made whole” doctrine is a key factor in subrogation claims. This law protects injured individuals from subrogation claims in certain cases.
Under Georgia’s “made whole” doctrine, an insurer cannot make a subrogation claim until the liable third party fully reimburses the injured individual. This law shifts the financial burden to the insurer. If the liable third party does not fully reimburse the injured individual for all damages, the insurer cannot make a subrogation claim.
In certain cases, an injured individual can block a subrogation claim by arguing they have not been “made whole” yet. Georgia leaves it up to the judge’s discretion to decide whether a settlement makes an injured individual whole.
Going back to our example, let’s imagine Jim suffers $5,000 in medical bills plus $5,000 in emotional pain and suffering. Movers reimburses Jim for the $5,000 in medical bills, and Nancy pays Jim $5,000 for medical bills. Because neither Movers nor Nancy pays Jim for emotional pain and suffering, Jim hasn’t been “made whole.” As a result, a Georgia court may prevent Movers from submitting a subrogation claim.
Related: Georgia Equitable Distribution FAQs
Georgia Subrogation Claims: Attorney’s Fees
In Georgia, an insurer has to reduce their subrogation to cover an injured individual’s attorney’s fees. As a result, if Jim pays his lawyer $1,000, Movers must reduce their subrogation claim from $5,000 to $4,000.