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What is the 'Made Whole' Doctrine?

Like several other states, California abides by the “Made Whole” doctrine when it comes to personal injury lawsuits – but, what is this doctrine, who does it affect, and how does it work?

Put simply, the Made Whole Doctrine in California is the principle that an insured party injured in an accident must be “made whole” before their insurer can recover compensation. In other words: You must be fully compensated for your injuries before your insurance company can claim part of your settlement as reimbursement for coverage.

Let’s look at a simple example: You are injured in a slip-and-fall accident and need emergency medical transportation. The bill for your ambulance ride is $5,000, and you file a claim with your insurance company to cover this expense. Later, you hire a personal injury lawyer and win a $50,000 lawsuit for all of your medical expenses. Because you were “made whole” for medical expenses, your insurance company bills you $5,000 in reimbursement for the ambulance ride.

The reimbursement insurance companies can claim is called subrogation, and it can only happen if you are “made whole” by a settlement. If you do receive enough compensation, your insurance company might reach out to you for payment or file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance provider to seek compensation.

How an Attorney Can Help

Insurance companies are relentless and may pursue subrogation even if it’s obvious that you were not made whole by a settlement or need to fight for enough compensation to be considered made whole.

If you are dealing with a dispute with your insurance company over a personal injury-related claim, reach out to Smolich and Smolich for legal assistance. Our attorneys are experienced advocates for clients who needed to protect their rights and interests during vulnerable times in their lives.

For more information about how we can help, reach out to us online and request a consultation.