Expand Your Law Practice by Adding Subrogation


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Today’s Guest Blog was written by Spencer B. Lythgoe, Attorney, Cannon Law Associates, Sandy, Utah.

Subrogation cases usually involve an insurance agent or attorney who is trying to determine who was really at fault for injuries or property loss. Subrogation claims can include product liability, catastrophic automobile accidents, extensive property damage resulting from floods and fires, and health and worker’s compensation claims. States across the country apply subrogation law differently. Within each type of claim, there is usually an additional distinction as to whether the subject of recovery is insured, partially insured or uninsured.

Collection attorneys and law firms looking to supplement their income or expand their business by branching out into other practice areas have found subrogation to be an attractive option. One reason why more firms are expanding into subrogation is that subrogation work involves collection after a judgment is obtained, or the parties have agreed on a payment plan, making using a collection attorney a natural fit.

Another reason to expand into subrogation is that subrogation cases are typically not that much more complex than other collection litigation matters, particularly when it comes to automobile claims. In some property subrogation claims, more discovery may be necessary than in the typical collection case, and expert discovery is sometimes required. Automobile cases, however, typically have a simple fact pattern, supported by a police report that has often already placed fault on the defendant. Additionally, most subrogation defendants are insured, and their insurance companies will defend a subrogation lawsuit on behalf of their insureds. Consequently, these cases are usually resolved early in the litigation process through settlement, or even payment-in-full.

Cannon Law Associates has long had collection litigation as the focal point of its business. Within the last ten years, however, Cannon’s business has become increasingly dedicated to insurance subrogation litigation, in addition to its collection work. The incorporation of subrogation into Cannon’s practice was integral in allowing the firm to stay afloat during the 2008 recession that caused the collection industry as a whole to suffer, and has allowed the firm to flourish in the years since. Cannon has extensive experience in automobile accident claims, as well as property damage claims (e.g., fire, flood, etc.)

While the addition of automobile subrogation to a collection practice may be a generally smooth transition, there may be some bumps along the way. When I joined Cannon last year after more than three years practicing solely in legal collections, I found that many things relating to subrogation litigation came naturally, while some others did not. One area in which I initially struggled was in deciphering the jargon often used by my insurance company clients in both their file notes and direct communications with me. In particular, I discovered a growing list of abbreviations with which I was not familiar, and I did not want to ask my client what they meant out of fear that my client would think I was a moron or not qualified to handle the job.

Accordingly, in order to assist attorneys who are new to working with the insurance industry, I have compiled the following list of some of the more common abbreviations that I have encountered, along with what they stand for and their definitions:

  1. NI = Named Insured. This is your insurance company client’s insured who reported the claim.
  2. PH = Policy Holder. Sometimes used instead of NI.
  3. IV = Insured vehicle. The vehicle that your client’s insured was driving.
  4. CV = Claimant Vehicle. The vehicle that the opposing party was driving.
  5. AV = Adverse Vehicle. Sometimes used instead of CV.
  6. CD = Claimant Driver. The opposing party driver.
  7. AD = Adverse Driver. Sometimes used instead of CD.
  8. OIC = Opposing Insurance Company. The opposing party’s insurance company.
  9. PR = Police Report. Typically your best piece of evidence.
  10. POI = Point of Impact. Where the vehicle was struck.
  11. OOP = Out of Pocket. Costs paid by the insured.
  12. PIP = Personal Injury Protection. Insurance coverage for medical expenses.
  13. BI = Bodily Injury. Injuries severe enough to be covered by insurance.
  14. FNOL = First Notice of Loss. Date the insured notified the insurance company of the event.
  15. POP = Proof of Payment. Documents showing who has received compensation and from whom.

Hopefully this list will help you in handling your first subrogation claims and in communicating with your new clients, as your practice expands into collecting in this new area of the law.

Spencer Lythgoe   Spencer B. Lythgoe, Attorney

Readers can also refer to these blogs on subrogation published previously on NL Insider:

Categories: Auto deficiencies, Debt Collection, Guest Blogs, judgment to collect debt, NL Insider, subrogation

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