The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently issued a decision approving an insurance company’s retention of damages received on a subrogation claim following a motorcycle accident. The accident victim in this case had already been “made whole” by receiving $100,000 from his insurance company pursuant to his underinsured motorist policy, $100,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and $15,589 from his insurance company for the loss of his motorcycle. A circuit court previously ruled that the victim could retain the $15,589, but also found that the insurance company did not act in bad faith. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, however, did not agree, reversing the lower court’s decision.
According to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Wisconsin’s “made whole” doctrine ensures that insured parties receive full compensation for their losses. The Court ruled that since the victim had been “made whole,” his insurance company was free to successfully pursue the $15,589 from the responsible driver’s insurance company through a subrogation claim. This is the case even though the accident victim had medical expenses related to his injuries that were not covered by the two insurance companies, due to policy limits.
According to the court, the victim could have purchased an insurance policy that provided a greater amount of bodily injury coverage. However, since the bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage were in two separate policies, the accident victim could not use the excess property damage coverage, which had a policy limit of $40,000, to cover his uncompensated bodily injuries.
Subrogation can be a difficult legal concept for injury victims to understand and process. Boller & Vaughan are Wisconsin motor vehicle accident lawyers who are devoted to protecting the interests of injury victims, as well as their families. When another driver has acted in such a manner so as to cause you harm, he or she may be responsible for your financial losses. In the case of a personal injury suit, however, a subrogation claim by an insurance company can make sorting out matters more difficult. Contact our office today to set up your free consultation and learn what legal options we can offer you.