IMPORTANT UPDATE ON PERSONAL INJURY, SUBROGATION, AND INSURANCE LAW IN TEXAS
By: Brian T. Cartwright
There is good news for personal injury victims in the state of Texas. Previously, if a person injured by another person’s negligence or other wrongful conduct obtained medical treatment which their medical insurance company paid for, the insurance company could insert, and then enforce, a provision in the injured plaintiff’s medical policy which permitted the carrier to be repaid all of the money that was paid by the company as a result of the third party’s negligence or other wrongful conduct, even if that meant that the insurance company received all of the money being paid to the plaintiff. The resulting tragedy was quickly exposed when persons suffering catastrophic injuries wound up receiving nothing, with everything instead going to the medical insurance company. In HB 1869, known as the Subrogation Reform Bill, and being codified in Chapter 140 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, the Texas Legislature recently overturned the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in Fortis v. Cantu, and now caps the amount of money that the medical insurance company can be repaid in instances where the injured person is not able to realize a complete and adequate recovery for an injury sustained by the negligence or other wrongful conduct of another person. The amounts differ depending on the circumstances; however, if you are represented by an attorney, then, effective January 1, 2014, the insurance company can only take up to 1/3 of the total recovery to satisfy any amounts that it paid out. If the injured party is not represented by an attorney, the amount goes up to one-half. (Unfortunately, however, HB 1869 does not apply to Medicare, Medicaid, CHIPS, Worker’s Compensation, and self-funded ERISA plans). If you have suffered a personal injury in the Metroplex, including Denton County, Dallas County, or Tarrant County, as a result of a tortious conduct, including negligence, products liability, automobile accident, 18 wheeler accident, medical malpractice, or other wrongful conduct, then please contact me so we can further discuss your legal rights during a free consultation.