Understanding the Complexities of Shipping Subrogation

The interstate commercial trucking industry represents a vital sector of the economy, with thousands of drivers hauling hundreds of tons of cargo across the country each day. Endemic to the sector is motor vehicle accidents as drivers encounter weather, fatigue, other drivers, or any kind of unexpected problem that arises on the road. 

While these losses may seem small for the most part, payouts on insurance claims – especially workers compensation and medical – will start to add up. Insurers may lose opportunities to recover capital if they don’t utilize subrogation to manage losses. And the complicated nature of trucking subrogation makes working with an insurance law firm key to minimizing the impact of claim payouts.

Nationwide Attorneys with Local Subrogation Expertise

Subrogated trucking casualties involve a complex interplay of state and federal laws and regulations, and so require thorough, multi-faceted subrogation investigations. Effectively navigating the process of subrogating losses for a trucking company can be much more complex than it is for automotive insurance subrogation, so it’s not always well-understood. Educating both trucking companies and their insurers on subrogation law is key to maximizing recovery from a loss. 

Because you are dealing with incidents and legal filings that cross state, or even US-Canada lines, knowing you have knowledgeable counsel available in any jurisdiction is key to ensuring you’re able to pursue every viable subrogation claim. A trucking company should retain a law firm dedicated to subrogation to ensure cases are properly managed in their specific jurisdictions, because insurance subrogation laws vary by state.

What Makes Trucking Subrogation Difficult

A shipping truck is a vehicle, a company asset, a residence, and inventory storage all at once, so there’s much more than injury and vehicle damage that causes loss and casualty. In addition to the normal automotive losses and accident liability, trucking company exposure may include:

  • Damage to a tractor or trailer
  • Special insurance coverage questions
  • Government tort immunity
  • Spoiled or damaged cargo
  • Liquidated damages
  • Contractual disputes
  • Indemnification 
  • Common carrier transportation documents
  • Loss of use
  • Administrative costs
  • Third party threshold issues
  • Limited liability constraints

Juggling several of these at once requires a savvy strategy on the part of the legal team handling the subrogation case, but it also means there are more opportunities to recover, including more potential liable parties to identify, depending on the cause(s) of the incident of loss. Subrogation attorneys who work in motor vehicle disputes are adept at managing these many moving parts.

Robust Investigations are Vital to Maximizing Recovery in Trucking Claims

As a perceived deep-pocket, trucking companies may be considered the most likely party at fault in an accident. However, a thorough investigation into an accident often reveals relevant third-party negligence that makes a subrogated claim viable for recovery. Loading companies, maintenance companies, manufacturers, and other negligent tortfeasors may be responsible for the incident. This means that, with a skilled subrogation attorney managing your claim, more than one tortfeasor might be identified, which increases potential for total recovery.

Effectively subrogating these nuanced claims for trucking companies requires a legal team familiar with trucking insurance policies and procedure, state and federal compliance, jurisdictional regulations, and a broad knowledge of procedure and operations of the trucking industry.

Rathbone Group’s decades of experience handling trucking subrogation offers an opportunity to recover damages unique to trucking claims. Pursuing all damages available under a subrogation claim increases the likelihood of a maximum recovery of losses, significantly increasing profits and reducing the company’s loss ratio. We are well-versed in the federal and state laws that govern subrogation for trucking companies, so our firm is able to navigate even the most complicated subrogation claims involving multiple parties.

Learn more about Rathbone Group’s areas of practice.