Claims Handling Tactic De Jour ... "Shaving Liability"

"The other driver caused the accident.  Why is his/her insurance company not paying the full amount to repair my damaged or totaled car?"  This is a question we hear repeatedly in our representation of car accident victims.  The answer to this question is simple.  The other party's insurance company is "shaving liability."  "Shaving liability" is the concept of an insurance company for an at-fault party assigning a percentage of fault to the innocent motorist thereby reducing the amount of money the insurance company is required to pay to repair or replace the innocent motorist's car.  

For example, let's assume you are driving down a road traveling within the speed limit and another motorist pulls out directly in front of you.  Not having enough time to avoid the impact, you strike the second motorist resulting in a serious accident.  The police come to the scene and investigate the accident.  The investigating officer interviews you and the other motorist and any available witnesses.  The investigating officer issues a citation for violation of right of way to the other motorist.  You are not issued a citation for any improper driving.  

The insurance company for the other motorist inspects the vehicles and conducts its investigation of this crash.  To repair your vehicle, it is determined that it will cost $5,000.00.  In the normal situation, the insurance company pays the repair facility or body shop the $5,000.00 and you are back on the road in due course.  In the "shaving liability" scenario however, the insurance company for the other motorist  calls you and says something like this:  "we think you were 25% at fault because you were going slightly over the speed limit when this crash occurred"; "we think you were 25% at fault because you did not apply your brakes quickly enough and if you would have, the severity of this crash would have been reduced" or "we think you were 25% at fault for causing this accident because the damage to our insured's vehicle was near the back of their car which means you did not brake in time or steer to avoid the collision, etc."  Many of the "shaving liability" assertions from the insurance companies smack of the old "Last Clear Chance Doctrine" which was negated in 1973 by The Florida Supreme Court case of Hoffman v. Jones, 280 So.2d 431 (Fla. 1973). 

Under the above-referenced "shaving liability" scenario, if the insurance company had its  way instead of paying you $5,000.00 in property damages, it would only pay you $3,750.00 leaving you in the hole $1,250.00.  The concept of "shaving liability" is money-driven and is designed singularly to make a profit center out of routine claims handling to 
pad the insurance company's bottom line.