Splitting a claim means dividing a single or indivisible claim or cause of action into separate parts and bringing separate suits upon it, either in the same court, or in separate courts or jurisdictions. Under the "entire controversy" doctrine, a party who has elected not to raise a related part of the controversy is barred from raising it in a subsequent proceeding. There is a general rule against such splittings, although there are some exceptions.
Consent or tacit agreement is clear justification for splitting a claim. Because a primary purpose of claim preclusion is to protect defendants from being harassed by repetitive actions based on the same claim, the rule need not be enforced where the parties have implicitly consented to the splitting of the claim under state and federal laws.
The following is an example of a federal administrative law dealing with splitting a claim:
Sec. 842.9 Splitting a claim.
- A claim includes all damages accruing to a claimant by reason of an accident or incident. For example, when the same claimant has a claim for property damage and personal injury arising out of the same incident, each claim represents only a part of a single claim or cause of action. Even if local law permits filing a separate claim for property damage and for personal injury, do not settle or pay a separate or split claim without the advance approval of HQ USAF/JACC.
- Filing for an advance payment, and subsequently filing a claim, does not constitute splitting a claim.
- Process the claim of a subrogor (insured) and subrogee (insurer) for damages arising out of the same incident as a single claim where permitted. If either claim or the combined claim exceeds, or is expected to exceed, settlement limits, send it to the next higher settlement authority. Do not split subrogated claims to avoid settlement limits.