dustry studies, over one-third of all auto
crashes are caused by the negligence of
more than one driver.
E Rear-end accidents make up about 42
percent of all car crashes.
E Another 8 percent involve a single vehicle crash or one where a parked and
unoccupied vehicle is struck.
Simply put, there is not a lot of comparative negligence on a telephone pole,
mailbox or guardrail, not to mention a
A variety of factors contribute to fatal auto accidents—many of which are from the deadly everyday maneuvers that drivers perform, like turning a corner or changing lanes. In the cases that involve more than one vehicle, it may seem easy to point fingers and blame one driver for
the entire accident.
A 2001 study of four major carriers by T. Mark Fay Consulting found that adjusters
are not necessarily confident in the percentage of liability to assign to each party, and
that organizations fear the potential negative reactions of claimants, insurance departments, and other parties to the loss. Although one driver may not have checked their
blind spot before merging, the other driver may be just as guilty of failing to drive defensively, and that should be recognized.
Not knowing how or why to assign comparative negligence and getting yelled at by
customers every time you do can be discouraging. However, the good news is that training your employees to have a sharp eye for potential cases with comparative negligence
is a relatively simple project that can make significant improvements. In claims, though,
simple does not mean easy.
The first thing you want to do is figure out the types of cases where comparative negligence is most likely to exist. Take into consideration some surprising accident-related
statistics that may help narrow down the field:
E According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a variety of in-
One third of all crashes have comparative negligence, and one half have next to
none. Take away rear-end and single vehicle accidents, leaving two thirds of the
remaining crashes with shared responsibility. Sounds like a good place to focus.
If math is a second language for you,
you might do better with a food analogy.
At the Chinese restaurant across from the
office, the egg rolls are stood on end so
that more will fit in the pan on the buffet. Most of the stuffing therefore slides
down to the bottom. So, when you lay
them down on your plate and cut them
in half, most of the filling is on one side,
and the other side is mostly empty.
Finding comparative negligence in car
crashes is just like that without the MSG.
The empty side of the shell contains the
rear-enders and the single vehicle accidents; all of the filling is where two or
more vehicles are moving.
However, not all accidents involving
two moving vehicles are created equal.
Research has shown that the recipe
for crashes most likely to be caused by
shared responsibility includes:
E Two or more vehicles on the move
E A backing vehicle
E An intersection or parking lot
E Inclement weather
E Inattention or distraction
E Inappropriate speeds
A good place to start on your improve-
ment effort is on cases that have three or
more of those elements. More often than
not, the driver at fault has failed to yield.