After an accident when State Farm handles the claim, you need to know what to expect.
Although the company may assure you they're on your side, remember that their primary goal is minimizing payouts and protecting their bottom line. This is where you need an experienced personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer understands the intricacies of the claims process and can get the compensation you deserve.
The Role of State Farm After an Accident
After an accident, a whirlwind of overwhelming activity starts with emergency services and immediate medical treatment and continues as you talk with law enforcement about the incident.
Around this time, State Farm might come into play as either your insurance carrier or an insurance provider for the at-fault party. State Farm, like any other insurance company, aims to limit the amount of money it pays out in settlements. This could potentially conflict with your need to obtain the full compensation you deserve for your injuries and related damages.
How State Farm Processes Injury Claims
Dealing with insurance companies can often be a complex and challenging process. This is particularly true when it comes to submitting a personal injury claim. State Farm's claims process generally begins after the filing of an accident report.
The company will then assess the claim, often involving tasks such as reviewing the police report, medical records, and any other relevant information related to the accident.
When assessing the claim, a claims adjuster from State Farm will seek to answer three questions:
- Does the policy against which the claimant has filed a claim provide coverage for the type of harm incurred? Auto liability policies often contain exclusions that will relieve the insurer of paying for the insured's liability. As The Zebra explains, an auto insurance exclusion is something that your policy doesn't include. Common exclusions include coverage for accidents that occurred while the driver was committing an illegal or intentional act or after they had made unapproved modifications to their vehicle. Another reason a policy would not have coverage is if the policyholder failed to pay their premiums.
- Was the insured liable for causing the accident that resulted in financial and psychological harm to the claimant? Claims adjusters will study the evidence to determine if the at-fault party cited or otherwise named their insured and interview the parties involved. If a lawyer represents the claimant, they will provide the necessary information to the insurance provider.
- How much compensation does the claimant owe due to the policyholder's liability? Once a claims adjuster has determined the insured's liability for the accident, they will study medical reports, bills, and other information to determine how much the insurance company has to pay against the claim.
While the insurance company can accept the claim as it is, they rarely do. Insurance companies are businesses with a primary goal of minimizing costs. They commonly employ various tactics to accomplish this, including disputing liability or downplaying the severity of injuries.
They can deny the claim but must give a reason for the denial to the claimant and their attorney with the understanding of filing a possible lawsuit. Insurance companies mostly offer a settlement that is far below the claim value.
An experienced car accident lawyer will then negotiate with the claims adjuster to convince them to increase the offer.
Filing the Claim Properly
Your lawyer can handle communications with State Farm, ensuring the execution of all necessary steps to file a claim and protect your rights. A lawyer will assess the extent of your injuries, determine liability, and quantify the accident's consequences on your life, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
How Much Is a State Farm Accident Claim Worth?
There are so many variables involved in the value of an injury claim, such as:
- The type of accident.
- The severity of the injury.
- The cost of your medical bills.
- How much property damage you sustained to your vehicle or other personal items.
- How much time you missed from work and losses to your income.
- The permanence of your injuries and whether they will affect your ability to work in the future.
- Any inconvenience due to frequent medical appointments, chronic pain, or emotional trauma.
- Whether your accident was the result of wantonly reckless actions that could result in punitive damages to punish the defendant for egregious behavior.
Your lawyer will seek answers to these questions as they value your claim. Lawyers generally evaluate claims for compensation after the claimant's injuries have stabilized and their doctor does not believe that further treatment will result in continued recovery. Once you reach that stage, you will have a more comprehensive understanding of all your expenses and can better estimate the future expenses you need to consider in your State Farm injury claim.
The Role of Evidence in an Injury Claim
Building a compelling case for an injury claim relies heavily on the evidence you present, as this demonstrates liability and illustrates the extent of your injuries, loss, and suffering. Comprehensive evidence is crucial in convincing State Farm or any other insurance company about the legitimacy of your claim. Your personal injury lawyer plays a pivotal role in this process by gathering, analyzing, and presenting crucial evidence most effectively.
Evidence in injury claims generally includes photographs of the accident scene, medical records proving the severity of your injuries, testimonies from eyewitnesses, and police or accident reports. Car accident attorneys sometimes rely on medical professionals, accident reconstruction personnel, and other professionals to explain the accident, its consequences, and the challenges you will likely face.
Affording an Attorney to Handle Your Claim
If you need to file a claim against an at-fault party's auto insurance policy from State Farm or your own after suffering injuries in an accident due to another's fault, an experienced personal injury lawyer can handle all aspects of the process.
They can value the claim, file it with the insurance company, negotiate a settlement, and fight for your right to compensation. Many people, however, are afraid to talk to a lawyer about their case because they don't think they can afford one.
Thanks to the billing method that most car accident attorneys use, anyone who needs the assistance of an experienced lawyer has access. The contingent fee billing method means you do not have to pay for your attorney's services until the conclusion of your claim.
Because payment is contingent upon your compensation, you do not have to pay your attorney if you lose your case. If you win the case, however, your attorney will receive a percentage of the award as payment. When you agree to work together on your case, the contingent fee agreement you and your attorney sign will spell out this percentage.
Even if you are unsure whether you want to hire an attorney to assist you, you can get answers to your legal questions about your case and learn more about the process by having a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer.
What Happens if State Farm Fails to Compensate the Claim Adequately?
State Farm, like any insurance company, might deny your claim for several reasons. These can include discrepancies in your claim, insufficient evidence, or disputes regarding fault or policy coverage.
If they deny your claim, don't panic. Review the denial letter carefully, and call your attorney immediately. They can consider the best course of action, including appealing the decision, negotiating further, or even taking the case to court.
In many cases, with the support of a lawyer, you can contest the denial by filing an appeal. Your lawyer will escalate matters to litigation, where they will fight for your rights in court if necessary.
While Settlements Are Typical, Litigation Is Possible
Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming for everyone. This is why State Farm and other insurance companies choose to settle the vast majority of personal injury claims filed against the policies of their insured. In some cases, particularly high-valued cases or where liability is in dispute, litigation will be necessary to pursue the compensation you need.
Your legal team will prepare your case for trial, considering the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations refers to the maximum time parties in a legal dispute have to initiate legal proceedings. This amount of time is set in state laws and varies widely depending on the state where the accident occurred. Most states have statutes of limitations of between one and five years after the accident.
Parties often resolve most personal injury claims through settlement. If they don't reach an agreement as the statute of limitations approaches, your attorney will protect your right to use the court process by filing a lawsuit. Allowing the statute of limitations to expire on your claim can have disastrous consequences, as you will lose access to having your case heard in court and State Farm can no longer resolve the claim.
The parties can still reach settlement agreements after filing a lawsuit after an accident, even after the trial has begun, as long as the court has not yet decided on the matter. Many times, the filing of the case in court is the catalyst for more productive settlement negotiations, as failing to negotiate will result in incurring expenses and uncertainty in the court process.
Hire an attorney with experience and success in negotiating settlements and fighting for their clients in court if necessary.
What if State Farm Is Your Insurer, but the Accident Was Someone Else's Fault?
When you have a free case evaluation with your attorney, they will want to know about all insurance policies relevant to your case, including yours. Insurance policies almost always feature policy limits. A policy limit is the maximum coverage available through the policy to cover the insured's liability and legal expenses in case of filing a lawsuit.
Due to the ever-increasing costs of medical treatment and the startlingly low minimum insurance levels that many states require, unfortunately, it is not unusual for the value of the claim to exceed the policy limit the claimant has filed against.
Your lawyer will examine the coverages available through your own State Farm auto insurance policy to ensure enough compensation to cover your expenses. A State Farm auto insurance policy may include underinsured motorist coverage, and that can assist you.
Medical payment coverage can also provide coverage, and in no-fault states, your personal injury law firm will certainly look at a personal injury protection policy to supply compensation for your medical treatment and loss of earnings related to the accident.