You’ve seen the commercials, and can probably recite the jingle in your sleep — “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!” This may seem like an innocent bit of advertising, but the truth is far darker. If you are involved in a collision and State Farm represents the other driver, you will soon learn that State Farm is nothing like a good neighbor.
Like all insurance companies, State Farm is a business. Its primary goal is to maximize profits, not to make sure that victims of car crashes get the highest possible recovery for their injuries. With $81.7 billion in revenue in 2018 alone, State Farm is pretty good at achieving its goal.
Unfortunately, this means that people who file car accident claims against State Farm often receive far less than they deserve. The company uses a number of tactics to deny, delay or minimize claims. A Washington, D.C. car accident attorney can help you if you have been hurt in a collision with a driver insured by State Farm.
How to File a Claim
If you have State Farm insurance, you can file a claim by email, phone, website or mobile app. Filing a claim online lets you check on the status and view documents related to your claim. Remember that this claim only is for the damages that are covered by your State Farm policy, which typically would include car repair or replacement and a small amount for your own medical expenses. (That is called PIP: Personal Injury Protection, and it applies regardless of who is at fault for the car wreck.)
What if you’re insured by another insurance company but the other driver has State Farm? If the claim is only for property damage — i.e., fixing or replacing your vehicle — then your insurance company may make a claim with State Farm. (That saves your insurance company money if they can dish off the expense to another company.)
BUT for your own injuries, you’re on your own to make the claim, until and unless you hire an attorney whose job is to look out for your interests (and not those of some insurance company).
When you have been involved in a car crash, it is important to remember that the other driver’s insurance company is not working in your best interests. Instead, the claims adjuster will seek to minimize your damages and pay you as little as possible. For this reason, you should be exceptionally cautious in your dealings with State Farm (and other insurers too).
The insurance adjuster may offer you paperwork to sign and tell you that it is necessary to process your claim. Do not sign anything without first talking to a lawyer. Your attorney will advise you of your rights under the law, and protect you from unscrupulous insurance adjusters. That paperwork may allow State Farm to dig into your entire medical history (to claim that your injury was pre-existing), or even release Start Farm from liability for injuries suffered in the collision.
While your own car insurance policy will usually require you to cooperate with your insurance company, you are under no obligation to talk to the other driver’s insurer. If a State Farm adjuster is pressuring you to give a statement — particularly one that is recorded — or sign something, you should refuse to do so to protect your legal rights.
What to Do If State Farms Offers a Lowball Settlement
State Farm is notorious for making low settlement offers to start negotiating a claim. This often occurs when a victim of a car accident is not represented by an attorney. Insurance companies like State Farm always try to settle cases as quickly as possible, and for as little as possible. The reason is simple: it increases profits and decreases the likelihood that the victim of a car crash will seek a lawyer.
In most cases, the claims adjuster will be very kind and personable. They will make you believe that they are on your side — and that they only want what is best for you. Because you are in a high-stress situation, dealing with your own injuries as well as legal issues, you may be tempted to accept the first offer that State Farm makes.
Taking the first offer from State Farm would be a big mistake. In many cases, the offer may not come close to covering your losses. This is particularly true in situations where you have suffered serious injuries and may not recover fully for months or longer.
Remember that a settlement offer is just that — an offer. It is just the start of negotiations, even if the adjuster tells you that it’s the best offer available or that they accept liability. If State Farm has made you a low settlement offer, you can and should reject it.
If you find yourself in this situation, your best option is to not engage. Instead, contact a personal injury lawyer to help you get the highest possible recovery. Under the law, an attorney is duty-bound to represent your best interests — unlike the insurance adjuster, whose duty is to the employer, the insurance company. Your lawyer’s goal is seeing you made whole: If your attorney is unable to secure an appropriate settlement, they will be ready and willing to take your case before a jury.
When Do You Need an Attorney for State Farm Accident Claims?
If you have been hurt in a car accident involving State Farm, an attorney is an invaluable asset for ensuring you receive the proper compensation for your injuries. A personal injury does more than just file lawsuits and represents you in court. Your lawyer can take on the insurance company for you — handling all communications and negotiations with State Farm. They will gather evidence and research the law to prove your claim. Better yet, your attorney can handle the investigation, negotiation, and pursuit of your claim directly, allowing you to focus precious time and attention on what really matters: recovering from your injuries.
State Farm has teams of lawyers, adjusters, and others working to minimize your claim. Hiring your own attorney can help level the playing field and ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve.
Consider a situation where you were involved in a crash because another driver waved you through an intersection, indicating that it was safe to turn. State Farm may argue that you were responsible for the decision to make the turn, denying liability. Yet depending on the jurisdiction, a driver who waves someone else through may be liable for the crash. Without an attorney, you would likely not be aware that this possibility exists. Your lawyer will analyze your case using firsthand knowledge of this field of law, and advise you on the best course of action. This may even include filing a claim against your own insurance company if the driver who waved you through cannot be found, or if you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
There are a number of ways that State Farm may try to deny, reduce or minimize your claim, such as:
- Going through your medical and/or personal history to argue that your injuries were not the result of the accident;
- Avoid taking your calls or responding to your emails, or even claim to have misplaced your file in an attempt to run out the statute of limitations;
- Ask you for a recorded statement where the adjuster nudges you to say things that are against your interest;
- Request that you sign forms that may impact your legal claim; or
- Suggest that you see a particular doctor or take your vehicle to a certain shop.
A lawyer can protect you from these types of tactics and protect your right to compensation. A lawyer can also protect you from unfair characterizations of your medical history or from the disclosure of embarrassing information. This can be done by hiring expert witnesses or even filing legal documents that would prevent State Farm from using certain information against you.
While there is a broad right of discovery (a process of exchanging information) in lawsuits, this doesn’t mean that State Farm can access all of your information without limitation. Your lawyer will advocate for you based on his knowledge of the law. For example, State Farm is only entitled to relevant information. If they are seeking medical records about mental health treatment that you received years before the crash, then your lawyer can object to those requests or even file a motion with the court to get a ruling that this type of information is not relevant to the claim.
Ultimately, if you are interested in getting the most possible compensation for your injuries, it makes sense to hire a compassionate and experienced car accident attorney. Your lawyer is required to fight for your best interests — unlike State Farm, whose only goal is to maximize its own profits.
Do You Have a Claim Against State Farm? We Can Help.
State Farm uses different strategies to make sure that they pay out as little as possible on car accident claims. If you have been hurt in a crash with a driver who has State Farm insurance, you can expect that they will work to minimize your claim. By hiring your own lawyer, you can push back against these tactics — and work to get the highest possible recovery.
The experienced legal professionals of Patrick Malone & Associates fight against insurance giants like State Farm every day. We have successfully recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients — and can help you get the compensation that you deserve for your losses. Call us today at 202-742-1500, or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team.