January 2014 Subrogation Newsletter
A Christmas-day article in one of our local newspapers drives home the important lesson that a subrogation claim is often won or lost in the short period immediately following a loss. The first few days after a loss are critical – the first and often only chance anyone may have to identify, retain, document, investigate, and record valuable information on which a future subrogation lawsuit will depend. Things which may seem to have little or no meaning or importance may turn out to be the lynchpin of an entire subrogation action.
As most subrogation professionals handling auto subrogation in Illinois know, Illinois Senate Bill signed into law effective January 1, 2012 changed subrogation in that state significantly. For the first time, Illinois mandated that in collision subrogation cases involving amounts less than $2,500, recently-enacted § 143.24d now required mandatory arbitration between all auto carriers. That development may be short-lived, however. On December 18, 2013, § 143.24d was held unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.
In reviewing a three-year-old property subrogation file for a client recently, we noticed repeated references in the claim notes to the lack of subrogation due to the fact that the insured had agreed to indemnify the tortfeasor for any damages resulting from the relationship between the insured and tortfeasor. Many assume that simply because the insured indemnifies the tortfeasor responsible for a loss, the subrogation claim will fail. This is not always the case, as was made clear in a recent Federal District Court ruling in Pennsylvania.
In 2013, Claims Journal’s online magazine asked Gary Wickert to start a new monthly column focusing on subrogation and related claims and insurance topics. Gary’s monthly column called, “The Road To Recovery” was very well-received. On December 30, 2013, the Claims Journal published an article entitled “Claims Journal’s Top 10 Legal Articles of 2013” and Gary’s articles landed in four of the top five spots for 2013.