When someone is injured in an auto accident, dog bite, or slip & fall, they may need to use their personal insurance to pay for care until a claim is settled with the at-fault party. Injury claims against a third-party and/or their insurance company are typically resolved in a lump sum settlement, meaning injury victims still need to pay for their treatment until the claim is resolved.
Once a settlement is reached, their insurance company who paid for care up to that point may have the right to recover the funds through a process called subrogation. But who gets reimbursed first after a settlement?
The Made Whole Doctrine’ in Washington state dictates that insurance companies cannot be reimbursed from a personal injury settlement until their insured is “made whole.”
This protects the accident victim from potentially being short-changed by the insurance company putting their in the recovery process.
Without the made whole doctrine an insurance company paying out $50,000 in coverage could request reimbursement from a settlement before the victim receives their payment, meaning there could be little to nothing left for them when they are finally paid out.
The doctrine also protects victims from language in policies that could try to subvert or otherwise void the right of the insured to make a full recovery before they are compensated.
Washington State Supreme Court clarified the doctrine in a ruling from July of 2019 writing that the insured party is to be reimbursed for any and all losses not covered by insurance before the insurer is allowed whatever amount necessary to reimburse them fully.
If you’ve been injured in an accident and your insurance company is not working with you, attempting to violate the made whole doctrine or otherwise take advantage of your situation, they may be acting in bad faith.
Davis Law Group has been protecting the rights of injury victims in Seattle and across Washington for more than 20 years. If you have questions about a potential personal injury case, or how your insurance company is handling your claim, you can request a free case evaluation with our expert team of bad faith insurance attorneys.
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