Dealing With State Farm on Accident Claims

On this page, our car accident lawyers focus on providing invaluable insights into navigating State Farm Insurance’s auto accident claims process. We will equip you with effective strategies for engaging with State Farm and its adjusters when handling your auto tort claims. With years of experience managing numerous State Farm claims, our auto accident lawyers offer unparalleled expertise on what to anticipate when confronting them.

About State Farm

State Farm stands as the largest auto insurance provider in the United States. However, in certain areas of the country, it trails behind GEICO in terms of insured drivers. Originating in the 1920s as a mutual auto insurer serving farmers, State Farm has since diversified its offerings to encompass various insurance lines.

In contrast to many other insurance companies, such as Progressive or GEICO, State Farm continues to operate under a traditional insurance company model using captive agents. This means that State Farm insurance products are only available through agents rather than directly from the company. This doesn’t make much difference when it comes to accident claims, because agents have no involvement or influence over the claims resolution process.

Dealing With State Farm on Accident Claims

State Farm has the biggest market share of any auto accident insurer in the country. This means that anytime you have an auto accident case, you have a pretty good chance that you will be dealing with State Farm.

Our auto accident lawyers have gone up against State Farm in literally thousands of cases and we have developed an excellent record of success over the years in our State Farm claims.  In many ways, State Farm is most difficult insurer to deal with if you have an auto accident bodily injury claim. Below are some of the primary complaints and things you need to know when it comes to State Farm accident claims.

Low First Offers …. Usually

Initial settlement offers from insurance companies, including State Farm, tend to be lower than the actual value of your claim. Typically, these offers range from 20% to 40% below what your claim is truly worth. The specific amount of the initial settlement offer often hinges on the individual claims adjuster handling your case.

While State Farm is known for such practices, it is not the most aggressive in lowballing initial settlements for auto claims, at least in our experience (that title goes to Progressive). Unlike some insurers, State Farm doesn’t strictly adhere to lowballing as a standard practice. There is a great deal of variation by insurance adjuster.  So our accident lawyers to bring bodily injury claims to State Farm claims adjusters that result in reasonable settlement offers.  Is this the norm?  No.

Settlement Offer Increases After Lawsuit is Filed

Dealing with State Farm on auto accident claims can be incredibly frustrating, primarily because it often requires initiating legal action against their insured driver to receive a fair settlement offer. While all insurers may adjust their offers when faced with litigation, State Farm tends to do so in the most drastic manner.

Once a lawsuit is filed against State Farm’s insured driver, a new handler is typically assigned to the claim. Remarkably, within a short span, they often double the initial settlement offer. This process can be exasperating as it compels claimants and their legal representatives to expend additional time and resources. Furthermore, as the trial date nears, it’s common for State Farm to further raise their settlement offer.

The reason for this dramatic shift has to do with the way State Farm handles claims that are in active litigation (i.e., claims where the injured party has filed a lawsuit against State Farm’s insured driver). When you file a lawsuit in a claim, State Farm transfers responsibility for the claim to an entirely different adjuster. The case also gets assigned to an in-house State Farm attorney who begins to have some level of influence that grows as the case gets closer to trial. The litigation claims adjusters and in-house attorneys for State Farm are typically much more reasonable and willing to settle claims compared to the initial claims adjuster.

State Farm Pushes Hard on Small Claims

While many insurance companies are open to reasonable resolutions for smaller value claims, State Farm appears to have a strategic policy of aggressively handling such cases.

At State Farm, adjusters adopt a tough stance on smaller claims. This often includes presenting exceedingly low offers and challenging claimants to pursue legal action if they refuse to accept. Small value injury claims typically receive attention from a “Team” of State Farm adjusters rather than an individual. These adjuster teams operate with limited authority and prioritize minimizing costs by vigorously trying to smash down small claims.

State Farm Will Take Cases to Trial

Many insurance companies will do anything to avoid taking a case to trial, including making a last-minute push for a settlement. State Farm is different. In our experience, State Farm is much more ready and willing to go to trial in cases than other insurance companies. The net result of this (not surprisingly) is that State Farm takes a higher percentage of their auto tort claims to trial than any other insurance carrier.

State Farm’s willingness to go to trial means that its defense lawyers will frequently call your bluff if you push for trial in the hopes of squeezing a last-minute settlement out of them. You can’t rely on State Farm to make a last-minute desperation offer to avoid trial. In fact, if you wait too long they may actually dig in their heels and refuse to settle at all.

How Does State Farm Calculate the Value of Injury Claims?

State Farm claims adjusters rely on a computer program called TEACH (Total Evaluation and Claims Handling) to assess the value of claims automatically. When entering details like injury type, medical treatment, and bills into TEACH, the adjuster initiates the calculation process.

TEACH then processes this data using predetermined parameters to determine the claim’s worth. These parameters often result in reductions across various expense categories. For instance, the software offers predefined estimates for required medical treatments based on injury types and automatically discounts any expenses exceeding those estimates.

This program and programs like it are designed to evaluate medical reports, treatment costs, and other data relevant to personal injuries sustained during an accident. The software often includes algorithms that help adjusters assess the severity of injuries, estimate reasonable medical expenses, and determine compensation for pain and suffering.

Primarily designed to undervalue claims, TEACH frequently leads to the issuance of lowball initial settlement offers by State Farm adjusters. Moreover, it poses challenges in seeking compensation for future losses like lost wages or medical expenses, as the software only factors in expenses or losses that have already occurred.

State Farm determines settlement amounts in personal injury claims by evaluating several factors that influence the overall severity and impact of the bodily injury. First, they assess the medical expenses related to the bodily injury, considering both current and future medical needs that may arise from the injury. This includes hospital bills, costs for physical therapy, and any long-term care needs. This is a big settlement value driver because the medical costs are not only compensable dollar-for-dollar but they serve as a marker for pain and suffering damages.

Secondly, State Farm considers the extent of the bodily injury in terms of its impact on the claimant’s ability to work and perform daily activities. This includes lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and the potential for ongoing disability.

Lastly, they factor in non-economic damages, which cover pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from the bodily injury. These calculations are based on the severity of the injury and its long-term consequences on the individual’s life. By combining these evaluations, State Farm arrives at a settlement amount it thinks fairly compensates the injured party for their losses.

All this assumes State Farm thinks its insured is at fault for the car crash.  If State Farm believes its insured is not responsible for the accident, it will generally fight like crazy and will settle before trial if it is willing to settle at all.

Tips for Getting the Maximum Settlement Out of State Farm

Outlines below are steps you can take from the very beginning of the accident and throughout the claim process, that will help you to get the maximum amount of money out of State Farm on an accident injury claim:

Document the Accident Scene

Capture images of your vehicle, the other vehicle involved, the accident location, your injuries, and any pertinent details related to the incident. These visual records serve as crucial evidence in establishing fault.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

If you sustain injuries in the accident, promptly seek medical care. Delaying treatment may undermine your claim, as the insurance company could argue that your injuries are less severe or unrelated to the accident.

Delay Settlement Discussions Until Maximum Medical Improvement

Some insurers may offer swift settlement proposals post-accident. Refrain from accepting any offer until you fully understand the extent of your injuries, limitations, and required medical care. For instance, what initially appears as a herniated disc injury might later necessitate lumbar fusion surgery. Accepting a settlement prematurely could prevent you from seeking additional compensation for future medical needs.

Avoid Signing Medical Authorization Forms

Although insurance companies like State Farm may offer to obtain your medical records and bills, refrain from signing authorization forms. Doing so grants access to your entire medical history, not just records relevant to the accident. Previous injuries or medical conditions could be misconstrued to downplay the severity of your current injuries. State Farm should only have access to information directly related to the accident.

Never Admit Fault

At no point should you ever admit that you were (or even may have been) at-fault for the accident. State Farm can and will use this against you, and it does nothing to help you.

State Farm Settlements & Verdicts

Below are summaries of recent settlements and verdicts involving State Farm. These include cases where State Farm defending its insured and cases where State Farm was named as a defendant.

$120,000 Verdict (Florida 2024): State Farm’s insured driver claimed she (and her passenger) were injured when they were rear-ended and forced into a tree by an unknown driver who fled the accident scene. The insured driver sought damages under her UIM coverage with State Farm. State Farm denied liability and disputed the causation, nature and extent of the plaintiffs’ claimed injuries and damages.

$40,960 Verdict (Maryland 2024): State Farm’s insured driver hit a pedestrian in the parking lot of a car dealership. The pedestrian was wearing a bright orange vest as he was directing cars being offloaded, but the driver claimed that he didn’t see him. Despite this seemingly weak defense, State Farm contested liability and took the case to trial.

$50,000 Settlement (Alabama 2023): A mother and her minor son (who was a passenger) were struck by a tow truck in a rear-end collision and suffered various injuries. The plaintiffs first reached a maximum policy limits settlement with the insurance company for the tow truck, then they sought UIM coverage from their insurer, State Farm. State Farm eventually settled the case for $50,000.

$4,500,000 Verdict (Florida 2023): A teenage girl was struck in the side by a commercial truck, resulting in major injuries which required two separate surgeries. State Farm claimed that the surgeries were not related to the injuries caused by the accident. The plaintiff rejected State Farm’s $100,000 settlement offer and went to trial where the jury awarded $4.5 million.

$12,325 Verdict (Wisconsin 2023): The plaintiff said that he suffered personal injuries due to the collision, which included a neck strain, a facial contusion, a right inguinal hernia and injuries to his head and/or concussion without loss of consciousness. The defendant, who was insured by State Farm, admitted liability but contested whether the alleged injuries were actually related to the accident.

$1,282,000 Verdict (Maryland 2023): On the journey back to New York from North Carolina, our client experienced a serious car accident in Maryland, exacerbating her pre-existing degenerative disc disease and chronic pain. Despite extensive physical therapy and epidural steroid injections, the $100,000 policy limit of the at-fault driver fell short of covering her damages. Our lawyers pursued a claim against State Farm for UIM benefits. At trial, we sought future medical expenses totaling $282,000, past medical expenses of $60,000, and pain and suffering damages amounting to $1.1 million. The client’s compelling testimony, bolstered by that of four additional witnesses, resonated with the jury, culminating in a favorable verdict of $1,282,000.

$49,476 Verdict (Washington 2024): The plaintiff, a 38 year-old male driver and his 42-year-old female passenger, claimed that they were rear-ended by the defendant when they slowed for traffic. The defendant was insured by State Farm. The plaintiffs’ rejected State Farm’s settlement offer of $15,000 and went to trial. They didn’t get the $100,000 they were looking for, but they got more than State Farm was offering.

Contact Us About State Farm Auto Accident Claims

If you are dealing with State Farm on an accident injury claim and need help, call our State Farm accident attorneys at 800-553-8082 or go online for a free case evaluation.

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