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Workers Comp Liability Subrogation – Vehicle Accident Steps


Workers Comp Liability Subrogation – Seven Steps For Vehicles

What Is Workers Comp Liability Subrogation for auto accidents?  Let us take an example I have on my screen in front of me. The insured employers and adjusters working on this together allow for quicker recoveries from any third party in case of an automobile accident that results in a Workers Comp Claim.

Truck workers comp liability subrogation pic
Wikimedia Commons – Celica21gtfour

A great subrogation example and definition can be found here.

This article points to use by adjusters.   Insured employers and others can help the claims staff do their investigation by assisting the adjuster.  Any time anyone can help the adjuster do their 13 job duties, the claims Total Incurred will be lower which will result in lower premiums.

Self-insureds, you should pay attention as this article can assist you to return cash to your budget.

One of my huge concerns right now in the insurance industry adjusters used to be trained in all lines of coverages such as:

  • Automobile  – we are talking about this one today
  • Premises Liability
  • Product Liability
  • Contractor/Subcontractor Liability
  • Miscellaneous  lines of insurance

The Seven Steps  For Automobile Accidents

Improving your Workers Comp Liability Subrogation Investigation

Let’s go over the seven steps together – easy peezy.  One extra step is that if you feel you are in over your head then review it with your claims supervisor or manager and possibly local legal counsel or your staff legal counsel.

Consult your claims manual in case it differs from my suggestions (not legal advice).  You can do this without having to use a service to do it for you.

  1. Do not dismiss the workers comp liability subrogation accident.  Just because it does not look like a third party is not possibly responsible, do not just check the No box.    I have a claim right here in front of me where the adjuster did just that.   What the adjuster missed was the next step.  I am not being picky.
  2. Obtain the police report.  This used to be a huge task.  With the advent of the internet, this step became easier.   Read the police report.  The address of the possible responsible third party shows up somewhere in the police report – very important.  Review who was ticketed.  If you cannot tell who is the third party’s insurer from the police report, use the Index Bureau (should be in your system.)
  3. Take Statements – preferably recorded, or have the person write down what happened, sign, and mail it to you.  A file note that you talked to someone is not sufficient.   People tend to forget the specifics of the accident months or years later.  Caveat – if you take a recorded statement – offer to send a copy to the person giving the statement.
  4. Do everything in writing, not by email.  You may need to explain the actions you took on the file to a court or your attorney.   Priority Mail automatically tracks your letter or use Certified Mail.   Once you discover what insurer the possibly responsible party has for coverage, write them immediately, time is of the essence.
  5. Very important – once a third party has accepted liability, then adjust your reserves accordingly.  Do not leave unnecessary reserves on the table.  The rating bureaus, agents, actuaries, data reporters, and the insured employer will thank you later for keeping the appropriate numbers.
  6. Make sure any funds recovered are posted to the file – should you leave the file open for the recovery?  Consult your claims manual or supervisor.   Reopening the file and forgetting to close a file that had a huge reserve can be very harmful to the insured – see my next article on that situation.
  7. Big secret one that may save the subrogation – Call the Assistant District Attorney in the local county where the accident happened if the third party was ticketed.  Tell them who you are and that you have a subrogation lien on the file before the date of the hearing.  Why?  Because if the Assistant DA dismisses the ticket then your subrogation lien just faded away.   This suggestion should be reviewed by your supervisor and staff attorney before you make the call.  Do not run afoul of the local law in that jurisdiction or your own jurisdiction.


These seven steps will help any adjuster with the Workers Comp liability subrogation of automobile accidents.   Insured employers may want to keep a diary of the file – see this article to accomplish that task.



=> Subrogation Recovery Claims Services

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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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