This article is a companion piece to this video

Successful subrogation recovery after an incident with an uninsured motorist can be challenging. The recovery of uninsured claims often requires a lawsuit and a judgment. However, subrogation cases involving a UIM are not over once the judgment is set; you still have to collect payment. Proper management of subrogation litigation claims can help obtain a recovery, but only with effective work post-judgment. 

In this episode of On Subrogation, attorney Kim Rathbone provides a great rundown of some of the details of how to utilize post-judgment license suspensions to increase the payment of post-judgment recoveries from your subrogation suit.

1. State Regulations on License Suspensions

The state in which the tortfeasor resides will determine whether or not you can get their license suspended post-judgment, and how to go about it. Most states allow a license to be suspended for an unpaid subrogation judgment, but others, like Vermont, do not. 

There are also sometimes time limits on petitioning the BMV for a post-judgment license suspension. With regard to how long the license can remain suspended, most states allow the license to remain suspended until the official judgment on the subrogation case is satisfied. Other states, like Alaska, have a hard 3-year time limit, regardless of whether or not the subrogation judgment has been paid and satisfied.

2. BMV Requirements for Identifying Tortfeasors

There are up to five ways to identify a tortfeasor for a license suspension after your subrogation judgment: 

  • Date of birth
  • SSN
  • License number
  • Address
  • License plate number

Most BMVs require just two in order to process a suspension request. The procedure also varies from state to state and in different BMV offices. For instance, forms are different, and they change over time. Many BMVs require police or incident reports to be included and maybe a copy of the judgment as well. It is important to determine whether or not the tortfeasor’s state is one that requires the notice to the BMV to be filed through the court.

3. Confirmation of License Suspensions

When it comes to confirming the BMV has indeed suspended the tortfeasor’s license, no news is good news. A BMV will always tell you when the suspension request has been rejected, but often they will not notify you if it has gone through. 

Most BMVs have search modules to check if a license has been suspended. However, you are only supposed to check your own license number on those; checking that your tortfeasor’s license is suspended via the online search tool is called “pre-texting” and is unethical. 

If the BMV rejects the suspension and it is not clear why, try to call and speak with a clerk. Maybe they misunderstood your claim, or maybe there are other factors at play of which you are not aware.

Important Things to Consider When Petitioning the BMV for a License Suspension

To summarize what we’ve discussed, there are three major factors affecting the viability and efficacy of pursuing a license suspension for an unpaid subrogation judgment:

  1. In the letter to the BMV, encourage them to thoroughly review all the documents attached to your request, but never encourage them to suspend a license. 
  2. Send a copy of the request to the tortfeasor – it may prompt them to contact you to pay the claim. 
  3. Notify the BMV of any payment arrangement as soon as possible, and provide the tortfeasor with a copy. Encourage them to go to the BMV themselves to attempt to release any suspension. Just remember that each BMV has specific requirements. 

For instance, for Indiana post-judgment license suspensions, a release is required to be processed through the courts. However, one of the many advantages of working with Rathbone Group is our understanding of the specific subrogation processes in each state. Our subrogation attorneys can help you jump through all the necessary hoops to make sure the tortfeasor is held accountable.

Interested in learning more about important topics on subrogation law and process? Visit Rathbone Group’s YouTube channel or browse our podcasts to listen to our educational series on insurance law and the nuances of a carrier’s right to recovery, On Subrogation.