Virginia Supreme Court Permits Double-Digit Ratios for Punitive Damages in Coalson v. Canchola

By Cory Bilton

President Signs 2

Numbers have a strong pull on our judgment.  If a law says, “Don’t drive a car unreasonably fast,” it is difficult to know exactly what that means.  Every person on earth could argue at length justifying their own definition of “unreasonably fast.”  But change that law to say, “Don’t drive a car faster than 70 miles per hour,” and all judgment collapses to the single question of whether a car’s speed exceeds 70 mph.  Call it simplicity, efficiency, or laziness, but we love rules based on numbers.  They make decisions easy.  Because numbers mesmerize us, when a law incorporates both a number element and an extra “reasonableness” element, it’s easy to focus on the number part and forget about the rest of the rule.

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PIP and MedPay Subrogation in the Washington, DC Area

By Cory Bilton

Sunderland 1

Following my post last week on Hubb v. State Farm, I’ve been thinking about how complicated PIP and MedPay claims can get in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia area.  It’s not complicated because the laws themselves are complex, but rather, it’s complex because each jurisdiction’s laws are different and many accidents involve more than one jurisdiction (e.g. a DC accident involving a Virginia resident).  One of the issues we face in deciding whether to file a PIP claim for one of our clients is whether the insurer has subrogation rights (and/or the right to be reimbursed) for PIP benefits.  This post will explain how each jurisdiction treats PIP or Med Pay subrogation.

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Hubb v. State Farm: Statutory Construction Can Be Used to Prove Anything

By Cory Bilton

Foggy Bottom Metro Sign

Last week, the DC Court of Appeals decided Hubb v. State Farm, a case involving subrogation of personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits under Washington, DC law.  The Court held that PIP insurers in DC have the right to subrogate (or be reimbursed) from the proceeds received by an injured person from the wrongdoer.  This is not a groundbreaking result.  In fact, I think even if the Court had adopted Hubb’s argument in this dispute, there was not going to be a repeatable benefit for other injured people in the future.  But what is noteworthy about Hubb v. State Farm is the reasoning employed to derive the result.  It turns out statutory construction, like statistics, can be used to prove almost anything.

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