Contributory Negligence Casts Doubt On Auto Insurance Claims

Post Date March 17, 2012 –  In most states the present legal system knows no gray middle ground when it comes to an at fault auto accident.   Bottom line;  if it’s black – your Auto Insurance pays.  If it’s white – you collect from their auto insurance.  Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?  In actual practice, grays don’t exist.  Many At Fault Accidents are clearly the fault of one driver, but the damage might be less severe or the at fault accident averted, had the other driver used more caution or better judgement.  This is known as sharing in the fault or contributory negligence.  It voids the right to recover 100% of any damages in most states.  There are a handful of  states which recognize the practice of comparative negligence. Under this system a driver 25% at fault could collect 75% of his or her loss from the auto insurance company. The contributory negligence rule satisfies almost no one involved in an at fault accident situation.  Lawyers, specifically those representing a claimant are particularly unhappy sharing liability or property damage limits with anyone but their client. Many auto insurance companies prefer out-of-court settlements than negotiating percentage of blame or  allowing a judge or jury to decide the percentage of blame.

I recently called the claims manager and friend at one of our appointed car insurance carriers. She said when their insured is clearly involved in an at fault accident and the claimant is willing to make a reasonable settlement, a reasonable amount of contributory negligence is ignored.  It also can be used as a negotiating tool since proof that the blame is shared would void the claim in a court setting.


Michael E. Dortch
President &  Managing Agent
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania  19446
(800) 807-0762  ext. 602