50/50 50:50 50-50 fifty fifty

50/50 50:50 50-50 fifty fifty

50/50 is a term used where it is thought the blame for an accident is equally shared between those involved.

The term is often used by insurance companies who want to reduce the payment they should make. In law very few cases are truly 50/50, but it is a term too often used in negotiation.

A 50/50 settlement might be suggested where there are no independent witnesses, where it is your word against the word of someone else. You might well be believed in Court, and the other person’s evidence rejected, but the insurance company are not keen to pay the legal costs of finding out. In truth, if you risked paying the legal costs, you might feel less strongly about the fight.

Another situation in which 50/50 settlement is offered is in a case with a low value. Here low value means a personal injury case with an injury worth less than £1,000, or a property only case with a value below £5,000. If you start Court proceedings and win you will recover only very limited legal costs. If you use a solicitor you will have to pay their fee, and that could be more than you are claiming in compensation. The insurance company knows the score, that is they know only a few people will fight, so they try it on and offer 50/50 settlement.

In personal injury cases this sharing of blame comes from the law of contributory negligence. The law would say one party is to blame for an injury because they were negligent or in breach of a statutory duty. It would then look to see if the claimant has contributed to their own injury and loss (the damage is the legal term) through their own carelessness. That contribution is expressed as a percentage, and the compensation is reduced by that percentage.

It might be semantic but the law does not decide liability or fault from two sides at once. The law looks at the defendant and decides if he is liable, and if that is the finding it then looks to the claimant to see if there is contribution to the damage, and if so a percentage is fixed.

Sometimes a defendant will counterclaim saying a claimant is to blame for their damage. One situation where that may happen is where two vehicles collide on the apex of a blind bend on a narrow country land. Each driver or rider has gone into the bend too quickly, proved by the fact the speed was too high to avoid a collision. A 50:50 settlement might be a convenient way to settle such a case, even though you could argue that each driver caused the accident, and each contributed to his own damage by 100 per cent. Legal semantics I appreciate. The reality in cash terms is that each driver would recover half of the compensation due. So if there is no injury, but one car is expensive and the other is not, then the expensive car driver will recover more cash.

Insurance companies will talk about 50-50 settlements. In law the only way to reduce compensation below 100 per cent is to prove contributory negligence. You can read about examples of contributory negligence by clicking here.

One phrase that does get confused with 50/50 is “knock for knock.” Knock for knock was an arrangement which existed between insurance companies. They agreed not to recover their own outlay (the amount they had paid out to their policyholder) from the insurer of the party to blame as they knew the boot would be on the other foot next time. This saved the expense of arguing, and claimants were left to seek compensation alone if they wanted to. The knock for knock arrangement stuck for many years, but as new players muscled into the insurance market they did not want to play by the old rules, and knock for knocked was kicked into touch. The end of knock for knock is one of the reasons your insurance company might be keen you make a claim if someone else was at fault. You can then run a claim, potentially at your own expense, and recover the outlay of your own insurer. Insurance companies also make a lot of money from referrals fees paid by solicitors who accept referred cases.

Settlement of any compensation claim is a matter of law, but it is also a matter of convenience and pragmatism. The answer is to be confident of the circumstances of your accident, to identify witnesses, and gather all information. Then have that assessed by an experienced expert solicitor. Contact us for expert advice.

Call for help without obligation on 01392 314086

Author: Mark Thompson

Personal injury and accident specialist solicitor

6 thoughts on “50/50 50:50 50-50 fifty fifty”

  1. Hi Mark.i have been involved in a car incident which I’m sure it wasn’t my fault. It happened at the roundabout and my insurer is saying that it’s more likely to be resolved as 50:50. Which I cannot agree as the third party was on the wrong lane. I have received a phone call from my insurer that the third party is claiming against me for some injuries (not specified). What shall I do in this case as I feel my insurer is helping other parties rather than me.

    1. Your problem is that your insurer can settle a case as it wishes, your agreement or permission not being necessary. The insurer needs your agreement to admit liability, but the insurer can settle without admission of liability.
      If you are going to make your own claim, make sure you notify your insurer and ask that they take no step which will prejudic eyour claim.
      The driving factor fo ran insure is cost, not right and wrong. They are not interested in arguing about liability, which could cost thusands of pounds, when only a few thousands are at stake.
      We all tend to think we are good drivers and that the other driver is at fault. Take a look at the Hioghway Code on roundabout use and try to be objective.

  2. My daughter reversed down road and a parked car pulled out and hit her. We never heard anything for over a year and now find out the guy is making a claim. My daughters insurance company went ahead on a 50/50 even though she thinks she done no wrong but this seemed the best route to close the matter. The guy has refused this and now we are being asked if we can attend court. We are not sure what we should do, there were no witnesses and no injuries. Any advice would be welcome.

    1. The insurance company can deal with a case how it likes. This often comes as a surprise. The agreement of the driver is necessary for liability to be admitted, but without such agreement the insurer can still settle the claim.
      It is necessary to cooperate with the insurance company, as failure to do so may allow the insurer to duck out and leave your daughter to pay the claim.
      On the very basic facts you provide, it strikes me the other driver is at fault.

  3. Hi
    My daughter had a collision with a third party on a single track lane. What makes this an interesting case is that her insurers are going with 50/50 even though her black box says she was stationary when hit. Also she took photos of the damaged bank where the other party hit at speed, going up it a full metre and almost turning over. Also, the other party is a neighbour who has admitted privately that it was his fault but didn’t admit liability to his insurer for fear of losing cover…
    What do you think??
    Jon McBride

    1. Your daughter’s insurer can settle the case as it wishes. If your neighbour is willing to be honest, the insurer will change its attitude, but without that I think you will be wasting your time.
      If your daughter is seriously injured, then it may be worth fighting for every last per cent of compensation, but if we are talking about damaged cars only, then the settlement is bound to be on commercial principles rather than legally right or wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.