Why Pursue Subrogation Recovery for Utilities & Fire Damage?

Whether installed overhead, underground, or a combination of both, electric utility distribution systems all work as a part of a massive infrastructure transporting energy from power generators to end users. Of the nearly 400,000 house fires that occur annually in the US, the second and third largest causes are heating and electrical/utility dysfunction. Electrical failures alone cause 30,000 house fires each year. 

Due to their prevalence and potential for danger, utility infrastructure could cause legal disputes as much as they provide energy. There may be faulty installation, poor maintenance, or a host of other issues that could contribute to a loss incident. Other common utilities, such as cable and phone lines, are just as pervasive in our infrastructure and are also often implicated in property damage and injury claims.

Subrogation claims involving utilities are complicated by unique standards of care, issues of liability, and unique statutory and regulatory frameworks. Rathbone Group (RG)’s understanding of these claims at the federal, state and local levels throughout the country increase the chances of recovery. Our subrogation attorneys, specialists and adjusters work with clients in dozens of jurisdictions, successfully resolving claims for utility and fire damage.

Managing Subrogation Claims for Underground Utility Damage

Utility companies and cooperatives can be held liable as a result of tortious actions or lack of action, meaning negligence. For instance, older water, gas and buried electric infrastructure can cause catastrophic property damage simply by being ignored. In these cases, the utility company that was responsible for keeping that infrastructure in safe working order can be held liable in a subrogated matter about an incident that resulted in damage to property.

Irresponsible actions regarding underground utilities can be just as devastating. The national hotline for underground utilities infrastructure is 811: Call Before You Dig. Simply failing to confirm whether or not digging at a certain site is safe can be considered tortious negligence when subrogating a property matter against a utility provider.

Rathbone Group’s property department maintains a thorough knowledge of utility laws and regulations, including utility location laws in all 50 states. If you or your insured have been damaged by digging, boring, excavation or other activity of a negligent third party, Rathbone Group is available to pursue all potential tort subrogation claims involving property damage. 

Effectively Subrogating Overhead Utility Damage Claims

In certain cases, overhead utility lines are downed by vehicles or heavy equipment, causing damage to property and even personal injuries. In these circumstances, fault can be difficult to determine and may ultimately depend on factors such as:

  • whether the utility’s line was the correct height
  • whether the utility had notice of a problem in the line 
  • the negligence of the driver or equipment operator  

Rathbone Group is adept in investigating and pursuing recovery in subrogation claims cases involving overhead utility lines, especially the nuances of applicable laws in a given jurisdiction. These statutes may vary greatly and present complications in pursuing subrogation recovery.

In cases of insurance disputes, utility companies are given extra protections by law, because of the infrastructural importance of their services. That does not mean, however, that they cannot or should not be held responsible for negligent or tortious actions. 

For instance, an attorney subrogating against a utilities company in Ohio has to properly navigate whether PUCO’s jurisdiction applies in a given subrogation matter involving a power supplier. In this case, an Ohio subrogation attorney will have the specific knowledge and experience you need to navigate these issues. Rathbone Group’s subrogation team has attorneys licensed in dozens of states and federal jurisdictions, and a national network that offers clients nationwide the ability to pursue subrogation recovery against utility companies.

Navigating Fire Damage Claims Against Utilities Companies

Rathbone Group is also experienced in handling claims in which property has been damaged by smoke or fire emanating from an electrical utility pole, line, or transformer. While electrical utility companies are not expected to maintain constant surveillance over each pole and line, they still must exercise reasonable care and maintenance over their facilities in order to avoid causing damage. 

Tortious negligence to maintain equipment is a public safety risk. In subrogation matters involving fire damage from malfunctioning infrastructure, determining the utility company’s knowledge prior to the incident is a key factor in analyzing the likelihood of receiving recovery compensation from the company.

Effective Subrogation Services for Utility Claims: The Rathbone Group Advantage

RG’s attorneys work through the subrogation investigation and claims process with adept knowledge of federal and state regulations, the utility company’s potential liability, and how to properly subrogate utility claims. In the fields of subrogation and insurance law, legislation varies, sometimes dramatically, depending on in which state the matter is brought. Utility and fire cases are perhaps one of the most complex types of subrogation matters.

Rathbone Group offers unmatched services for these complicated cases to streamline your recovery pursuit, with proficiency in:

  • Litigating subrogated utility matters in a variety of states.
  • Understanding the regulations for utility location and maintenance.
  • Performing swift and thorough investigations, including skilled analysis of police reports and eyewitnesses.
  • Navigating local laws and regulations.
  • Pre-suit subrogation claims resolution for utilities and fire damage via mediation or arbitration.
  • Efficient, effective navigation of the utility subrogation process while managing costs for our clients.

Let our staff of subrogation attorneys, specialists and claims adjusters help you achieve maximum recovery on utility or fire claims while minimizing cost.

Contact Rathbone Group