Legalese Isn’t Easy

You’ve heard jokes like “what do you call 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.” Yet, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone of your acquaintance who’s never needed the services of a good lawyer. Sometimes you’re not even the party that initiates the legal action and you have to seek our legal representation before you can even understand what’s going on. For example, would you know what to do if you received a subrogation letter?


What Even Is It?

For those of you not well versed in the ancient language of Latin, a subrogation letter has nothing to do with messages about submarine sandwiches. It has to do with money. Specifically, subrogation is the legal right of someone to seek out compensation for a loss for which someone else is responsible. You find this practiced mostly by insurance companies. For example, say you’re at fault in a car accident. You talk to the other driver and everything seems okay. Days later, they discover something wrong and file a claim with their own insurance company to cover whatever’s wrong. Their insurance company has to pay their claim and then has the legal right to come after you to recoup their losses in paying that claim. That’s subrogation. It’s most often used in auto insurance claims, but also shows up in homeowner’s and medical cases, too.

Check Your Mail

So, what do you do if you receive a subrogation letter? First, don’t panic. Second, don’t ignore it. That said, you’re not under any obligation to respond to the letter at all. You can legally ignore it. That does not mean, however, the company who sent you the letter isn’t going to come after you for what they deem is your responsibility to pay them. Your best course of action is to first determine if you’re truly at fault for what they’re saying you are. If it’s not your fault, let that insurance company know immediately they’ve got the wrong person. You may also consider hiring legal representation to stand with you and against those false accusations.

If you are at fault, then the insurance company who’s knocking on your door with an invoice has the right to ask you to pay. They’re not going to stop, either, until they get you to agree to pay them. So, why shouldn’t you put it off if you’re going to have to cough up some money anyway? Well, consider the fact that the insurance company is much more likely to negotiate if you respond quickly. That’s no guarantee you will pay a lesser amount, though. You just may be able to negotiate payment terms, but something is better than nothing in your favor. Your other tally in the plus column will be avoiding a lawsuit you’ll almost definitely lose. Lawsuits can be expensive, stressful and time-consuming. If you know you’re at fault, avoid the lawsuit by answering the insurance company in a timely manner.

You can best determine if you need legal help by first understanding what action someone else is taking against you.

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