Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Jun 17, 2021

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Types of Car Insurance Fault Systems
Different Fault SystemsSource
Pure Contributory NegligenceClaims Journal
Pure Comparative Negligence Claims Journal
Modified Comparative Fault (50%)Claims Journal
Modified Comparative Fault (51%)Claims Journal
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If you get in an accident, your insurance company will decide on a fault determination, or who is at fault for the accident. This determination can work in a variety of ways. An accident can be at-fault, not at fault, 50/50 fault, or any range of percentages in a comparative negligence state. What is a 50/50 at-fault accident? Is a 50/50 car insurance claim the same thing as a split liability agreement?

The fault determination, comparing car insurance coverage you carry against the other driver’s will decide who pays for the claim and how.

Determining who is at-fault for a car accident and how it affects an insurance claim can be confusing. We can clear it up for you. We’ll break down the different fault laws, how they apply, and what to expect in a claim.

You want to know:

  • How does a 50/50 Claim affect insurance?
  • Are parking lot accidents always 50/50?
  • How do adjusters determine who is at fault?
  • Will my insurance go up with a 50/50 claim?

Read on to learn more about 50/50 car insurance claims. And be sure to use the FREE comparison tool at the top of this page to look at car insurance quotes right now.

What is a split liability agreement?

After a car insurance company investigates a claim, each party involved in the car accident will be assigned a percentage of liability in the accident. It’s very common for both parties to be assigned some percentage of the fault. If it is a 50/50 at-fault accident, and both parties agree on their share of the fault, it is called a split liability agreement.

In the insurance world, an at-fault accident is one where the liable party has been deemed to be 51 percent or more to blame for the incident. A not-at-fault accident is defined as one where the liable driver was found to be 49 percent or less to blame for the resulting damages or injuries.

If both drivers have been found to be 50 percent to blame for the accident by the claims adjusters, it’s called a 50/50 car insurance claim.

What is a 50/50 car insurance claim?

The official term for a 50/50 car insurance claim — once the representatives have determined liability — is a split liability agreement. This agreement says that you and the other party were equally responsible for the accident and the damage that was caused.

Maybe you made the smallest mistake while driving, but even a minor contribution can lead to a 50/50 claim if your actions could have prevented the accident from happening entirely.

What happens when there is a fault determination?

When the fault is determined in a car accident, it’s distributed among each driver involved in the accident according to the results of the investigation of the insurance adjuster that looked into your claim.

The way a car insurance claim is settled is based on fault and depends entirely on the state that you live in. As explained by Claims Journal, there are contributory negligence states and comparative negligence states, and the percentage of fault is more important during subrogation in contributory negligence states.

In a contributory negligence system, if you’re at fault, even in the slightest, you cannot receive compensation. With a comparative negligence system, depending on what percentage you’re responsible for, you may or may not receive compensation.

Read on to find out how your negligence can affect your ability to recover personal injury compensation.

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50/50 At-Fault Car Accidents

There are dozens of scenarios that constitute a 50/50 at-fault accident. Maybe you were doing an illegal U-turn when the other driver ran a red light. Perhaps you were speeding when the other driver decided to switch lanes with no warning.

If you are found to be just as responsible for the accident as the other party, you might be wondering how your car insurance claim will be paid.

In most situations, when you’re found to be 50 percent at fault for an accident, you will only be able to collect 50 percent of the value of your claim. If you have medical bills, the other party’s insurance will pay for half of your bills. You must pay the rest with your medical payments coverage or your health insurance.

If you have repair bills for your vehicle and you have collision coverage, you may have to pay 50 percent of your deductible. If you don’t have collision insurance, you’ll have to pay for half of your repairs with your own money, because the other party’s insurance will only pay for half of the damages incurred.

This can become a complicated situation when the difference of just one percent could mean that you will have to pay thousands out-of-pocket for your medical bills and repair bills. This is why it’s important to follow your claim closely and to find out why you were allocated 50 percent of the fault.

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How is fault determined in a car accident?

Insurance companies, not police officers, determine who’s at-fault in a car accident. A citation given out by a police officer is not the deciding factor in who is at-fault in an accident, though the adjuster will take any citations issued into account when making their determination.

Do you wonder how car insurance claims work or how adjusters determine who is at fault?? When you file a car insurance claim, you’re asked about the events that led up to the incident. The claims adjuster or representative that takes your initial call will ask you when the accident happened, whether or not anyone was injured, and where your vehicle is located.

You may also be asked for a police report number and the contact information of third-parties and witnesses. You will be told about the claims process and when you should expect a call to make your official statement, which will be reviewed during the claims investigation.

It is only natural to feel all shaken up following an accident. This is why it is very common for claims adjusters to wait a few days for you to settle your nerves before taking your recorded statement. As an insured party in the accident, you will only speak with your own car insurance company.

The insurer will act as your middleman and speak with the claims adjuster of the other party involved for you. When the statement you give and the statement given by the third-party are reviewed, the claims department will make a determination.

After a car accident, you should contact your insurance company immediately. Your insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your case, and they might come straight to the scene of the accident, or they might review the damages the next day.

Here are common questions car insurance claim adjusters ask:

  • When did the accident take place?
  • Where did the accident happen?
  • Who was involved?
  • Did you have passengers in your car?
  • How did the accident happen?
  • Whose fault do you think it was?
  • Which direction were you heading?
  • How many cars were involved?
  • Did you file a police report?

These questions are general. They might ask other, more detailed questions, depending on the circumstances. They will also look at police reports to get an objective view of what happened and at photos from both drivers to view the damage done to each vehicle. If one driver admits fault, the insurance adjuster will take that into consideration during the investigation.

Will my insurance go up with a 50/50 car insurance claim?

Having your car insurance rates go up after an accident is not ideal. Sometimes car insurance companies will be forgiving, and with just one accident on your driving record, you may not experience higher rates.

If you do experience higher rates after a car accident, it could be because your insurance company thinks of you as a high-risk driver.

When your car insurance rates increase after an accident that is your fault, it’s called a surcharge. A surcharge is a fee that is added to your insurance premium after you’re found at fault for a car accident. Surcharges can remain on your insurance policy for several years.

Watch this video to learn how an accident affects your car insurance rates.

The table below, featuring data from Quadrant Information Services, shows insurance rates based on a clean driving record compared to a driving record with one accident.

Average Car Insurance Rates Based On Driving Record
GroupClean RecordWith 1 Accident
USAA$1,933.68$2,516.24
Geico$2,145.96$3,192.77
American Family$2,693.61$3,722.75
Nationwide$2,746.18$3,396.95
State Farm$2,821.18$3,396.01
Progressive$3,393.09$4,777.04
Travelers$3,447.69$4,289.74
Farmers$3,460.60$4,518.73
Allstate$3,819.90$4,987.68
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$6,204.78
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Even if you are not at fault for the car accident, it’s still possible for your car insurance rates to go up. You have the option to shop around for a new car insurance policy if you’re not happy with your new rates.

Fault or No-Fault Accidents

Sometimes an accident will happen in which you did nothing wrong. In that case, the other driver will usually be considered 100 percent at-fault for your damages and injuries. This only happens when there was nothing you could have done to prevent the collision from happening.

If the other driver is found to be 100 percent liable, all of your damages will be paid for by the other person’s car insurance provider, as long as you live in a state that operates under tort law.

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What if it’s unclear who was at fault in a car accident?

When it’s unclear who was responsible for the accident, car insurance companies assign fault based on the state law of comparative negligence or contributory negligence. They will then determine what percentage of the accident was your fault. Below are the different fault systems for each state.

Car Insurance Fault Systems by State
Pure Contributory NegligencePure Comparative NegligenceFault Comparative Negligence (51%)Fault Comparative Negligence (50%)
AlabamaAlaskaArkansas Connecticut
District of ColumbiaArizonaColoradoDelaware
MarylandCaliforniaIdahoGeorgia
North CarolinaFloridaKansasHawaii
VirginiaKentuckyMaineIllinois
LouisianaNebraskaIndiana
MississippiNorth DakotaIowa
MissouriTennesseeMassachusetts
New MexicoUtahMichigan
New YorkWest VirginiaMinnesota
Rhode IslandMontana
WashingtonNevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Texas
Vermont
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, most states have a modified comparative negligence system. States that operate under tort law are at-fault states. The party responsible for the damages in a car accident will pay for them in that case.

If you’re in a no-fault state, where people recoup from their own insurance company, your Personal Injury Protection will pay for your medical bills, but you can still file a claim on the other driver’s insurance for the damage to your property, and in some cases for other damages. Below you can see which states are at-fault and which are no-fault states according to data from HG.org Legal Resources.

Fault and No-Fault Car Insurance States
FaultNo-Fault
AlabamaFlorida
AlaskaHawaii
ArizonaKansas
ArkansasKentucky
CaliforniaMassachusetts
ColoradoMichigan
ConnecticutMinnesota
DelawareNew Jersey
GeorgiaNew York
IdahoNorth Dakota
IllinoisPennsylvania
IndianaUtah
Iowa
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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As you can see, the majority of states operate under tort law.

What is a tort state?

A tort state is different from a state that has a no-fault insurance law. In tort states, an accident will be analyzed to determine who was responsible. The driver that caused the accident will have to pay for the damages they caused to the other driver’s car. Sometimes the fault is placed on two people. In states with tort law, you’ll need to carry liability insurance to cover any bodily injury or property damage you might cause.

If you’re at-fault under a tort system, drivers will be able to sue you for damages, medical bills, and loss of wages. Under limited tort law, you may not be able to sue the driver at-fault.

What is no-fault insurance law?

Under no-fault car insurance law, you will have to file a claim with your own car insurance company after an accident. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident. If you live in a state with no-fault insurance laws, you’re allowed to sue for severe bodily injuries, pain and suffering, and other potential losses, but only in certain conditions.

In a no-fault state, a 50/50 car insurance claim would not be applicable. You will have to file a claim with your own insurance company to receive compensation for the damages to your car.

It’s important to note that no-fault laws generally only apply to injuries. In most cases, property damage is not part of the no-fault insurance system. It’s also vital to note that even in a no-fault state, car insurance companies will still determine fault, and the at-fault driver will still see a rate increase as a result.

Check out this video on the states’ different systems.

There are only twelve states that have no-fault laws.

If you’re not sure whether you live in a tort state or no-fault state, check your state insurance laws. The law will also tell you what kind of insurance you need to purchase. For example, if you live in a tort state, you will need to have liability insurance coverage. If you’re in a car accident and you’re determined to be at-fault, your liability insurance will pay for the damages (up to your coverage limit).

What is comparative negligence?

Some states have comparative negligence laws pertaining to car insurance claims. When this is the law, you may not receive full compensation for your damages, depending on what degree you were found to be at-fault for the accident.

In states where this law is relevant and there is an allocation of fault, the payment might be apportioned based on the percentage of fault.

This means that you may only receive 75 percent of the payment for your car damages, in which case you’d have to pay the remaining 25 percent of the damages out-of-pocket.

A pure comparative negligence system lets you receive payment from a party even if you’re at fault. For example, if you’re found to be 60 percent at-fault for the accident, you can still receive 40 percent compensation for your damages. Below are the states with a pure comparative negligence system.

For states with a modified comparative negligence system that uses the 51 percent bar rule, if you are more than 50 percent at-fault, you may not receive compensation. If you’re responsible for 50 percent or less, you can receive compensation.

For states that use a modified comparative system with a 50 percent bar rule, if you’re found 50 percent at fault, you cannot receive compensation; you would have to be found 49 percent or less at-fault to receive payment.

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What is contributory negligence?

States that have contributory negligence laws have more strict rules for negligent parties. Many times, these laws only pertain if you take the personal injury claim to court instead of settling with the insurance company.

Learn more about contributory negligence in the video below.

The contributory negligence law says that if you are even 1 percent at fault for the accident, you have no chance of receiving compensation. Below are the states that use a contributory negligence system.

states with a contributory loss system

By contributing to the cause of the accident, you cannot recover any losses.

How to Appeal 50/50 Car Insurance Claims

If you are wondering how to dispute a car accident fault, you are not alone.

If you do not agree with the fact that your car insurance company found you to be 50 percent at fault, you do have rights. Knowing these rights can make a difference in the overall matter if you exercise them. If you don’t agree with the assessment of fault, you can speak with the adjuster’s supervisor for an explanation or you can appeal the decision.

You will likely need to file an appeal with the insurance company in writing. You will need to be prepared to present evidence that you were not at fault. Your insurer will send you a Notice of At-Fault Determination. You’ll need to make sure that all the information in the document is correct or you’ll have to send it back to your insurance company for correction.

If you need assistance with appealing a car insurance company decision, you can reach out to your state’s department of insurance, which can be easily located thanks to this National Association of Insurance Commissioners map.

What question should I ask my insurance adjuster after an accident?

Another thing you might want to do after an accident is to ask questions about your car insurance policy and how the accident will affect you afterward.

Here are some general questions:

  • Does my car insurance cover this accident?
  • How will this accident affect my car insurance rates?

You can ask your insurance adjuster whatever questions you like. It would be a good idea to brainstorm ahead of time and write down all of your questions so you don’t forget anything when you talk to the adjuster.

Sometimes being blamed for an accident is inevitable. But only having to take responsibility for half is better than being completely at-fault. We hope you learned a lot about 50/50 car insurance claims from this guide.

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