If you’re involved in a car accident, the at-fault driver can be held financially responsible for any losses that you have suffered. Unfortunately, the other driver’s insurance company may balk at paying you fair compensation for your losses.
Take State Farm, for example, The insurance giant rakes in billions of dollars in profit each year. Yet State Farm routinely denies or attempts to underpay legitimate car accident claims.
The best way to get the money that you deserve for your car accident injuries is by hiring an experienced, aggressive car accident lawyer. Based in San Raphael, the Kuvara Law Firm represents injury victims throughout Northern California. We work hard to make sure that our clients get top dollar for their State Farm settlements – and we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
State Farm Accident Claims Process
The State Farm claims process typically begins immediately after an auto accident. Policyholders should report the crash as soon as possible after it occurs. If the at-fault driver fails to do so, then you can make a report yourself. Ideally, your car accident attorney will do this on your behalf.
Once State Farm receives a report of an accident, they will assign a claims adjuster to your case. The insurance adjuster will investigate what happened, which may involve:
- Interviewing all involved parties;
- Requesting a copy of an accident report from the police (if one exists);
- Visiting the accident scene;
- Checking out the damage to the vehicles;
- Requesting information from auto mechanics; and/or
- Gathering additional information.
Remember: the claims adjuster’s job is not to make sure that you get the most possible money for your losses. Instead, their goal is to minimize what State Farm has to pay out on the claim. For this reason, you should never talk to the insurance adjuster, give a statement, or sign any documents without first consulting with a personal injury lawyer.
At this point, State Farm might make you a settlement offer. An initial State Farm settlement – particularly for people who aren’t represented by counsel – is often a lowball offer. You may be tempted to accept this offer so that you can get paid and move forward with your life.
While it is your choice to do so, keep in mind that this will typically result in you getting far less money than you would recover if you had an attorney. In fact, insurance industry studies show that people who are represented by an attorney recover 3.5 times as much money compared to those who represent themselves.
If you do decide to retain a car accident lawyer, then they will start the case with an investigation of their own – requesting the accident report, interviewing witnesses, researching case law, and more. They will then draft a demand letter to State Farm. This letter will set out the basic facts of the case, why their insured is responsible, and then make a demand for damages (compensation).
This starts the negotiation process, where your lawyer will go back and forth with State Farm’s claims adjusters until a settlement is reached. If State Farm doesn’t offer a fair settlement, then your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit and taking the case to trial. The majority of personal injury cases are resolved without going to trial.
Most car accident law firms handle cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing upfront and only pay a fee if your lawyer recovers money for you. In other words, there is no risk to hiring a car accident attorney. Most law firms also offer free initial consultations, where you can get a better understanding of your legal rights.
Dealing with an Insurance Claims Adjuster
State Farm likes to pride itself on being a “good neighbor.” Yet the reality is that State Farm works hard to pay out as little as possible on car accident claims. Does that sound like a good neighbor to you?
State Farm uses a variety of tactics throughout the claims process to try to minimize your recovery. For example, they might assign your claim to a “team” of adjusters if they think it is a low-value claim. Each adjuster has limited authority to offer you a settlement, which means that you might waste a lot of time trying to get an offer that actually covers your losses. Typically, it is only after you get a lawyer involved that they assign a single adjuster with a higher level of authority.
Insurance adjusters are also notorious for using your own words against you – particularly when you give a recorded statement to State Farm. Anything that you say, such as admitting that you were momentarily distracted by your crying child, could be used by State Farm to argue that you share some responsibility for the crash. This is why you should never give a statement (let alone a recorded or written statement) to State Farm when you have a claim against its insured.
Another trick that State Farm adjusters like to use is claiming that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident, but by a pre-existing condition. For example, if you suffered whiplash after their insured rear-ended you, State Farm might dig back in your medical records to find a time when you had a minor neck injury (even if it was 20 years ago!). The adjusters can do this by asking you to sign a release that allows them to request your medical records. Do not sign this type of release!
While you will need to share some medical records with State Farm to prove your injuries, you shouldn’t give them carte blanche to go through your entire medical history. Your car accident lawyer can help to protect you from this by making sure that only relevant medical records are released.
State Farm is also known for stalling on car accident payments. In most cases, an accident victim needs an insurance payout to regain some level of financial stability. After all, you may be missing work because of your injuries, but you still have to pay your regular bills plus any medical expenses. Claims adjusters know that as time goes on, injury victims become more desperate and more likely to agree to a low settlement offer.
A lawyer can often get State Farm to make a good settlement and to quit stalling. At a minimum, a car accident attorney will make sure that the insurance company treats you fairly and in accordance with the law.
Finally, a State Farms claims adjuster might try to convince you that you don’t need a lawyer. They might tell you that they accept responsibility for the accident, or that you’ll get less money if you have to hire an attorney. State Farm doesn’t want you to have a lawyer for a reason – because it benefits them.
The insurance company wants to pay as little as possible for your claim. The reality is that when an injury victim has a lawyer, they are more likely to get maximum compensation. Don’t let a claims adjuster talk you out of protecting your own best interests.
When Will You Get a Settlement or Pay Out?
After a car accident, you may be entitled to several different types of compensation for your injuries, known as damages. These damages fall into three categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic and non-economic damages are compensatory, which means that their goal is to compensate you for a loss. Economic damages address direct financial losses, while non-economic damages cover intangible losses.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Medical bills, including for physical therapy and counseling
- Future medical expenses
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases because they are meant to penalize someone who did something intentional or reckless. Most car accident cases involve negligence or carelessness. However, there are situations – like drunk driving accidents – where punitive damages may be appropriate.
The timing of a State Farm settlement depends on a number of factors, such as whether the insurance company accepts responsibility and if there is a dispute as to damages. If liability is clear, then you may receive a payout within just a few months. In other cases, such as situations where State Farm argues that you were partially responsible for the wreck or that your damages claim should be lower, it might take longer to get a settlement.
In some situations, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit and take your claim to court. This most often occurs when State Farm won’t give you a reasonable settlement. Your attorney will file the lawsuit and prepare the case for trial. Negotiations will continue throughout the pre-trial process, up to the morning of the trial.
If you have to file a lawsuit, it could take a year or longer to get a payout from State Farm. This can be difficult but may be necessary to get the money that you deserve for your losses. In most cases, you won’t have to go to trial, as the case will be settled before you get to that point.
Does State Farm Pay Pain & Suffering?
Yes. Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage that you may be entitled to under California law. If you have experienced this type of loss, then your State Farm settlement should include compensation for pain and suffering.
The State Farm claims adjuster will probably try to avoid paying you for pain and suffering or to minimize the amount of money that you get. The best way to get full value for your claim – including pain and suffering – is by working with a San Rafael car accident lawyer. Contact Kuvara Law Firm today for a free consultation.
What Is the Average State Farm Car Accident Settlement?
Each car accident claim is different. There are several factors that influence the total value of a claim, including the severity of the injury, the at-fault driver’s policy limits, and whether the injury victim is expected to make a full recovery. For example, a person who is paralyzed in a car accident will probably receive a higher settlement than an individual who suffered minor injuries, like a sprain or strain.
If you want to maximize the value of your State Farm claim, you should hire a seasoned car accident lawyer who can level the playing field. In San Rafael and the surrounding areas, contact the Kuvara Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.
What if State Farm Argues That I Was at Fault for the Car Accident?
In California, even if you were partially responsible for an accident, you can still recover for your losses under a theory of comparative negligence. Your total compensation will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault.
However, even if State Farm makes this claim, that doesn’t mean that it’s true. You can fight back against these tactics – and get maximum compensation – with the help of an experienced car accident attorney. Reach out to the Kuvara Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.
Let Us Take on State Farm for You
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, the last thing that you want to do is engage in a battle with a major corporation like State Farm. Fortunately, you don’t have to take on State Farm: we’ll do it for you.
At the Kuvara Law Firm, we have the experience and knowledge to fight the biggest insurance companies – and win. We take a proactive approach to each case, working hard to help our clients get the biggest possible recovery. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a car accident lawyer, call us at 408-446-5879 or fill out our online contact form.