Injured motorcyclist cannot sue attorney for failing to pursue "double-recovery."
Scott Hasen was hurt what a motorist struck him on his motorcycle. Under Michigan law, the motorist's auto insurance was obligated to pay his No Fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical benefits. Hasen had also paid for Blue Cross-Blue Shield health coverage, which was also obligated to pay his medical expenses. Hasen allowed that coverage to lapse, however, based on his attorney's suggestion that he could not "double-dip" and recover for the same health expenses from both carriers. Hasen later sued the attorney for malpractice, arguing that he could have obtained payment from both insurers for $180,000.00 in PIP medical expenses if the attorney had advised him to maintain his Blue Cross coverage.The lower court and the appeals court both concluded that Hasen would not have been successful in collecting his health benefits twice. On that basis, the malpractice claim was dismissed. While it is true that Hasen had paid two premiums for the two coverages, Blue Cross and virtually all health insurers include "subrogation" or "reimbursement" language in their health coverage contracts that entitle them to be re-paid first out of any payment resulting from an injury. Insurers and established Michigan law both gag at the prospect of a "double-dip" or double recovery--even if premiums were paid for both coverages.
The judges concluded that Hasen could not prove that Blue Cross would have continued to pay the six-figure medical claim without exercising its right to subrogation or reimbursement. Hasen argued that Blue Cross had "abandoned" its rights early on, however, the court noted that this occurred with regard to a billing for several hundred dollars and was unlikely to continue when the billings reached six figures, as evidenced by the correspondence between the two insurers and Hasen's attorney.