Equitable Subrogation Question Certified to Florida Supreme Court in Personal Injury Case

file0001279191486 morguefile bamagirlIn Allstate Insurance Company v. Theodotou, a young man suffered head trauma and other injuries when he was struck by a motorist while riding his scooter in Florida. Following the collision, the boy was treated at a local hospital. Unfortunately, his injuries were apparently made worse as a result of medical negligence.

Not long after the accident, the young man’s guardian sued the motorist who struck him as well as the owner of the vehicle. At trial, the defendants were precluded from presenting evidence that the young man’s condition was made significantly worse due to negligent medical care in accordance with prior Florida precedent. Ultimately, the defendants were ordered to pay the young man more than $11 million. After that, the driver’s auto insurer paid the boy’s guardian the full accident policy limits of $1.1 million.

Before the judgment against the driver was entered, the guardian filed a medical malpractice lawsuit related to the same injuries against the doctor who treated the young man and the hospital where he was cared for. The guardian also filed a bad-faith insurance claim against the vehicle insurer. Next, the insurer, the motorist, and the vehicle owner (collectively “Appellants”) intervened in the malpractice lawsuit.

According to the Appellants, they were entitled to equitable subrogation from the medical defendants. The medical providers then filed a motion to dismiss the Appellants’ complaints. The health care defendants argued the Appellants were not entitled to subrogation because the judgment entered against them was not yet fully paid. After that, the trial court granted the medical defendants’ motion and dismissed the Appellants’ equitable subrogation requests with prejudice.

Next, the Appellants filed an appeal with Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal. The appellate court stated the issue in the case was whether the Appellants were permitted to seek equitable subrogation from a subsequent tortfeasor under Florida law when the Appellants were not permitted to introduce evidence related to the subsequent tortfeasors at trial, the full amount of the injured boy’s damages was ultimately charged to the Appellants, and the resulting judgment was not paid in its entirety.

After reviewing the applicable case law, Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal held that the Appellants should be allowed to seek subrogation from the medical defendants due to issues of fairness. In addition, the appellate court certified the question of whether the Appellants may seek equitable subrogation from the medical defendants, even though the judgment was not fully satisfied, to the Florida Supreme Court.

If you were hurt in a South Florida auto collision, you are advised to discuss your rights with a knowledgeable Miami personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able. To speak with a dedicated Florida traffic accident attorney today, do not hesitate to call the experienced advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Allstate Insurance Company v. Theodotou, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 5th Dist. 2015

More Blog Posts:

Lakeland Appeals Court Rules Car Accident Defendant Entitled to Legal Fees After Plaintiff Rejects Settlement Offer, July 24, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Pensacola Court Considers Proposed Evidence in Florida Semi-Truck Accident Case, July 23, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Photo Credit: bamagirl, MorgueFile

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