November 2013 Subrogation Newsletter
On May 6, 2013, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed S.B 1062 into law, creating a new Title 85A of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Act to ultimately replace, but temporarily operate in parallel with, existing Title 85, and once again reform that state’s workers’ comp laws, including the laws addressing subrogation. The new law applies only to work-related injuries and/or accidents which occur on or after Feb. 1, 2014. As a result, workers’ comp and subrogation practitioners will have to be familiar with two sets of laws in Oklahoma – one for injuries and death occurring prior to Feb. 1, 2014 governed by the outgoing Title 85, and the other for injuries and death occurring after Feb. 1, 2014 controlled by newly-enacted Title 85A.
Most insurance defense counsel and liability adjusters regurgitate release language and settlement agreements because it’s easier for them to do that than actually look at the facts of the case before them to craft language specific to each case. Even seasoned lawyers and liability adjusters sometimes have a hard time grasping subrogation concepts and the claims we are pursuing. So, what do you do? Do you sign the release containing the harsh and open-ended indemnity and hold-harmless language in exchange for the immediate gratification of cashing the check? Or do you push back? In making that decision, it is important that you understand precisely the obligations and future potential liability you are exposing the insurance company to. If you’re not careful, the released party may end up with the last laugh.
When and whether a vehicle involved in a collision is considered to be “totaled” for first-party insurance purposes is an issue of great angst and confusion for most consumers. We hear horror stories about older, functioning automobiles being “totaled” simply because the frame is bent or other seemingly minor and hidden damage occurs. Even insurance professionals can get turned around navigating the maze of rules and regulations regarding the act of “totaling” a vehicle under a policy, but it doesn’t need to be that complicated. This article will hopefully help take the guess-work out of when a car can be considered “totaled.”