Chaplin & Gonet’s success is due in large part to a three-pronged collection process that we have developed and continue to improve upon. The three prongs are what we refer to as the prejudgment, judgment, and post-judgment processes.
The pre-judgment process of subrogation is initiated when the client places the account with our office. Each subrogation account is entered into our computerized collection system and a collection specialist is assigned to the account. An initial contact letter is promptly sent to the debtor upon of receipt of the account. Our goal is to elicit a response from the debtor and facilitate immediate payment on the account without the need for litigation.
The initial subrogation contact letter is also an effective tool to determine whether the debtor’s address is valid. If returned mail is received, the collection specialists will skip trace the debtor. Numerous methods are employed including, but not limited to, accessing Department of Motor Vehicles records.
If a debtor either does not respond to the contact letter or disputes the debt, litigation is initiated and the judgment process begins. Cases that are within the jurisdiction of the General District Courts (i.e., $25,000.00 or less) are filed in those courts to minimize the costs to the subrogation client and expedite the litigation process. To maximize efficiency, subrogation cases in more distant venues will be pooled until a sufficient number in that area of the state are accumulated to make travel to that venue cost effective. Of course, any subrogation cases with a statute of limitations issue will be filed immediately. Due to their nature, many of the cases filed result in general district court result in judgments. However, a significant portion will be set for trial. Chaplin & Gonet’s seasoned subrogation litigation attorneys handle any contested cases that go forward to trial.
Obtaining the judgment in a subrogation case is the easy part. It is the subsequent collection of that judgment which is the most difficult and time-consuming. We refer to this as the post-judgment process.
Once a judgment has been obtained, we routinely docket the judgment in the Circuit Court of any city or county where the debtor is likely to own or acquire real estate. With a judgment lien in place, the debtor must satisfy the judgment before the property can be sold. The collection specialist will again skip trace and attempt to locate the debtor and obtain as much information as possible. With our direct link to credit reporting agencies and the Department of Motor Vehicles, we can access debtor information twenty-four hours a day. The information ascertained through skip tracing determines the legal avenue we will follow to collect.
The most effective tool available to a subrogation attorney is the ability to suspend the driver’s license of uninsured motorists in certain cases. If the debtor has not made suitable payment arrangements within thirty days of judgment, we will cause the debtor’s driving privileges in a reciprocating state to be suspended. Prior to reinstatement, the debtor is encouraged to make payment in full if at all possible. Otherwise, a significant good faith payment will be required and payment arrangements must be made.
If the debtor continues to refuse to make payments voluntarily, the law provides the additional tools of garnishment, attachment, debtor interrogatories, and levy. Each case is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine the method(s) that would be the most cost effective. If a debt cannot be collected on a short-term basis, the account is updated and reviewed periodically to check for new information.
On the last day of each month, a debtor payment summary report is generated. The report breaks down all payments and charges to each debtor’s account and displays the status of the account, nature of charges, current balance on the account, and the date each payment is received. Along with this report the client is either sent a check, net of attorney’s fees and costs or is sent a bill.
In exchange for the services set forth above, Chaplin, Papa & Gonet charges a thirty-three and one-third percent (33 1/3 %) contingency fee of all monies or things of value recovered in the matter by compromise, settlement, or suit. In addition, the client is responsible for reimbursing us for all court costs and similar expenses.
Chaplin & Gonet has been litigating and collecting on behalf of insurance companies for over a decade. Our clients range from multi-national corporations to smaller, regional carriers. Our office has the resources and understanding that large companies demand while maintaining the open lines of communication and responsiveness that local companies value. Call our office today to learn why Chaplin & Gonet is the trusted name in Mid-Atlantic subrogation.