Working with your car insurance company to file a claim in regards to an accident can be a difficult and confusing task. The way insurance companies settle claims can vary from state to state and company to company, and it’s always important to keep in mind that insurance companies prefer to pay out as little as possible, as well as accepting the minimal amount of liability they can.
Because of this, it’s important to understand the 80/20 car accident rule and how it influences settlements and further court action.
What is an 80/20 Car Accident?
Not all car accidents are black and white, or completely at the fault of one driver and not the other. The 80/20 rule implies that an accident was 80% the fault of one driver, and 20% the fault of the other.
A great example of this would be the case of a rear-end collision. Generally, rear-ending another vehicle could be prevented by giving enough lead time, space between your cars and paying attention to the flow of traffic in your lane. However, what if you rear-end another vehicle because they’ve stopped suddenly? Even though you should have allowed more space and attention to maneuver as necessary, that quick stop didn’t help things. In this case, in terms of percentages, you would be 80 at fault, while the other driver would be 20 at fault.
In other words, the 80/20 rule removes the black and white aspect of car accidents and holds other drivers accountable for their part in potential accidents. Insurance companies favor this arrangement for understandable reasons.
The 80/20 rule isn’t an exact proportion, either. The insurance company can name off any proportion of fault when assessing the details of the case. This includes 70/30, 90/10, or 60/40 for example.
Why Choose an 80/20 Agreement?
The 80/20 agreement lessens the financial burden on one driver’s insurance company to cover the entire cost of the damage. It also means that an uninsured driver could potentially pay for their part in an accident, whereas if they don’t have car insurance the driver’s insurance would have to cover the entire cost unless and until they sued the other driver (and even then they may not get anything.)
This type of settlement is strongly favored by car insurance companies in order to recoup at least some of their expenses. In fact, this popularity with car insurance companies can also be a negative thing, too!
Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer Before Agreeing to an 80/20 Agreement
If you’ve been involved in an accident, it’s important to consult with a personal injury lawyer before signing any agreements between insurance companies. Oftentimes, accident victims are less than familiar with the laws surrounding the circumstances of an accident, or simply can’t afford to pay for a lawyer or a court case to fight against the other driver or other driver’s insurance company. Because of this, many cases of insurance companies assigning some percentage of the blame on the other driver in order to recoup some expense have been reported.
To avoid being taken to the cleaners for any part of an accident that wasn’t your fault, make sure to consult with a lawyer. Admitting fault in a car accident can have unforeseen consequences on your pocketbook anyway – like your insurance premium going up for at least three years – so it’s important to be sure you won’t be paying for your decision to settle later. After all, personal injury lawyers exist to defend your rights and protect from predatory practices. Car insurance companies will often intimidate a victim in the hopes that they won’t be called on their bluff in court. A Personal injury lawyer is equipped to assess and call that bluff!
Proportional Comparative Fault at 51%
Another factor to keep in mind is that Oregon uses the Proportional Comparative Fault at 51 Percent rule when assessing whether a victim can file a claim or a lawsuit against another driver. What this means is that you will not be able to take another driver to court if you were more than 51% at fault for the accident.
Depending on the role you played in creating an accident, this is important to know when deciding if a settlement like the 80/20 arrangement will make sense for your case, or if you should go to court to collect the damages that you’re entitled to.