January 2017 Subrogation Newsletter
Injury and workers’ compensation cases involving slips and falls on snow and ice during winter in America’s northern states continue to be a perplexing subrogation puzzle for insurance claims and subrogation professionals. During the winter months, our office sees a flood of cases involving slips and falls on ice, snow, and slush. It is important to understand when and how liability attaches in such cases – and when it does not.
Following an election cycle where illegal immigration became a touchstone issue, it seems only appropriate that claims handlers and subrogation professionals have a clear understanding of the many nuances involving workers’ compensation claims made by undocumented employees. With more than 11 million immigrants living and working in the country according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, such an understanding is indispensable. When an injured employee initiates a workers’ compensation claim with the words, “No tengo documentos”, claims professionals are exposed to a Pandora’s Box of legal issues and concerns.
The last 40 years have been a roulette wheel of changing opinions and positions for the Idaho Supreme Court with regard to an employer’s subrogation and reimbursement rights or its workers’ compensation carrier when there is employer negligence. However, the white ball representing the latest position of the Idaho Supreme Court with regard to this issue has just landed squarely on “00.” The Supreme Court’s December 30, 2016 opinion in Maravilla v. J.R. Simplot Co., 2016 WL 7488385 (Idaho 2016) holds that any employer negligence bars the subrogation or reimbursement rights of the employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. With this decision, Idaho adopts the minority rule – a rule which will surely lead to increased workers’ compensation premiums within that state.
It has now been four years since Claims Journal’s online magazine asked Gary Wickert to begin a new monthly column focusing on subrogation and related claims and insurance topics. The column was very well-received and continues to provide the claims industry with a very widely-read medium in which to talk shop and discuss the importance of actually recovering dollars as opposed to spending them. On December 29, 2016, Claims Journal came out with their annual top ten legal articles for 2015 and Gary claimed six of the top ten legal articles.