Sometimes it’s very clear which driver has caused an accident. In this case, the negligent driver is responsible for the claim and he or his insurance company pays for 100 percent of the damage. However, not every accident has just one cause or one glaring reason it occurred. An 80/20 auto insurance settlement is agreed to in cases where two drivers share the blame for the accident.
A rear-end collision is normally the fault of the person who hits the other car from behind. There are mitigating circumstances, however, which may cause an 80/20 insurance settlement. For example, if Driver A stops short, he might share the blame for a rear-end collision. Insurance companies may agree that the Driver A's actions played a factor in the accident, but acknowledge that the second driver, Driver B, was still mostly at fault for not driving at an appropriate speed, following too closely or simply not paying attention to react in time. They offer compensation based on what percentage of liability they felt each driver played in the accident.
Another example of this is when Driver A's reason for stopping quickly is that she rear-ended a third vehicle. Driver B is still responsible for his part in the accident since he was tailgating when he hit Driver A. But because Driver A's actions were also out of the ordinary, the insurance company that represents Driver B might request a split claim for this incident.
Occasionally, the rear-ended driver was simply waiting for a red light to change when Driver B crashes into her. In this case Driver B may charge that Driver A stopped short. Because impact might push Driver A's car into the vehicle in front of her, unless the driver of the third vehicle—or another witness—testifies that it was a result of the impact from Driver B, the insurance company for Driver B has a good case for the 80/20 claim.
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An 80/20 claim, often used correctly, indicates the proper proportion of fault and resultant payment. Some unscrupulous adjusters and claims agents, however, use this tactic if they find that the innocent driver doesn't have full coverage. In this case, the driver has no insurance company to fight for his right to the additional 20 percent, and the split settlement saves the other insurance company some money.
Before the police arrive—or if they don’t come—get the names and phone numbers of witnesses. If you have access to a camera, take a photo of the entire car and any cars involved. The majority of the damage is at the original point of impact and photos that clearly indicate the most damage to your vehicle is in the rear speak volumes toward your innocence. Don't forget to snap a photo of the rear end of the vehicle in front of you to show its damage. It should be minor compared to yours. This preparation may guarantee 100-percent payment.
If you're offered an 80/20 settlement, or any other such arrangement, don’t settle too quickly. Soft-tissue damage shows up after the accident. Express a desire to wait because you want to see if your aches and pains subside. Don’t use this as a threat, but as a precaution. Whiplash is hard to discern immediately. Once you settle, you don't have the right to sue later. While it might not change the insurance company's offer, it does give you time to make certain you're healthy and don't need to pursue further legal action.