I sideswiped a parked car inside the parking area of a mall in Quezon City while I was texting my friend whom I was supposed to meet. The owner of the car decided not to press charges against me since the car was insured anyway. To my surprise, I received a demand letter from the insurance company directing me to pay the expenses they incurred for the repair of the car I sideswiped. Can this insurance company sue me?
In your narration, you admitted that you were at fault when you sideswiped the car inside the parking area of a mall in Quezon City. By this alone, the owner of the said car may hold you civilly liable for the damages brought about by your negligence. Since he opted not to file a case against you, it does not follow that your civil liability was already extinguished. Perhaps, the owner of the said car did not want to undergo and be bothered by court litigation. Since the car was insured, he just collected the proceeds of the insurance for the repair of his damaged car.
Your liability, however, does not end there. The insurance company may go after you for the expenses it incurred for the repair of the damaged car. If despite the letter that the people in this company have sent you, they still fail to collect from you, they may file a case in court so that the court may oblige you to pay them. The law is clear that the insurance company steps into the shoes of the damaged car owner, after paying the latter for the damages he suffered because of the incident. In other words, the car owner was subrogated by the insurance company in his right to file a civil case against you for damages. This is clearly provided under Article 2207 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, which provides:
“Art. 2207. If the plaintiff’s property has been insured, and he has received indemnity from the insurance company for the injury or loss arising out of the wrong or breach of contract complained of, the insurance company shall be subrogated to the rights of the insured against the wrongdoer or the person who has violated the contract. If the amount paid by the insurance company does not fully cover the injury or loss, the aggrieved party shall be entitled to recover the deficiency from the person causing the loss or injury.”
Thus, the insurance company may sue you and hold you accountable up to the extent of the amount it paid for the repair of the damaged car.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org