How to Negotiate a Car Accident Claim with State Farm
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State Farm is one of the largest property and casualty insurance provider in the United States. It is also the largest automobile insurance provider in the United States. Though it claims to provide fair settlements to claimants, State Farm, like any other business, seeks profit. And oftentimes the profit motive does not necessarily lead to fair compensation for accident victims.
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AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2017-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017) BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA, JOE CAPUTO, BURGESS WILLIAMS, NEIL SOLOMON, & JASON ALDRIDGE
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021), & CHRISTINA HAGEN (2021) BY SUPER LAWYERS (A THOMPSON REUTERS COMPANY)
MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2017-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2020), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), NEIL SOLOMON (2019-2020), COLE GUMM (2019-2020), CHRISTINA HAGEN (2020) & BRENDAN MCQUAID (2020)
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WHAT TO EXPECT IN A SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATION WITH STATE FARM
Understand that a State Farm agent does not get paid for being fair to claimants. Though an agent may be pleasant, he or she is not talking to you to offer you a fair settlement. They exist for the company, not for you. Expect some of the following tactics from a State Farm agent and beware of them.
State Farm agents will generally come at you with a lowball offer. Unfortunately, many accident victims take the lowball offer because they do not have time to trouble themselves bargaining with an agent. By doing so, however, you are missing out on compensation that may be necessary for the future. Remember, when you are settling with an insurance company, you should not just think about the immediate losses that occurred directly after the accident, but also the losses that may occur in the future. For example, if you suffered severe burns that you will need future treatment for, you will want to consider that when accepting a settlement offer. You do not want to accept an offer only to realize that the amount you accepted will not cover future losses.
Insurance companies sometimes will try to delay processing your claim in hopes that the statute of limitations will pass for your personal injury lawsuit. In Arizona, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. If an agent is successfully able to delay your claim to the point that the statute of limitations passes, the insurance company will no longer have any reason to give you a fair settlement. This is because you cannot threaten it with a lawsuit.
Asking You to Sign a Medical Release
If an agent from State Farm asks you to sign a medical release, politely decline. If you do not, they may find from your medical records other injuries you may have had or medical conditions you may have. They will then use this to say that your current pain from the accident in question is due to preexisting medical conditions or prior injuries.
Ask You to Use a Particular Doctor or Repair Shop
If an agent asks you to go to a particular doctor or repair shop, it may mean they have an ongoing relationship with that particular shop. You may end up with a false and less serious diagnosis or a repair bill that does not accurately convey the amount of damages to your property.
How to Negotiate a car accident claim with state farm
1. Figure Out Your Claim’s Value
Before State Farm’s claims adjuster arrives at your doorstep with a lowball offer, figure out your claim’s value. To figure out your claim’s value, collect the medical bills and other expenses related to the accident.
Remember that the claims adjuster is not going to give you the most generous settlement offer. Even if the offer from State Farm may sound reasonable to you, do not accept any offer without figuring out your claim’s value. Once you have figured out your claim’s value, send a settlement letter to State Farm that contains the full amount you believe your claim is worth.
2. Rejection is Normal
Like in any negotiation, expect a counteroffer that is much lower than your original offer when negotiating a car accident claim with State Farm. If the claims adjuster presents you with an extremely low counteroffer, do not become desperate and accept the offer.
3. Remember There Is Always the Possibility of a Trial
Trials are expensive and burdensome, both for you and the insurance companies. Trials are extremely costly, and the insurance company will likely be at a disadvantage if your case has merit. If the claims adjuster is persistent with a lowball offer, then let him or her know that you are not afraid of going to court.
4. Be Patient
Patience is important in the settlement negotiation process. Understand that negotiations take time. Do not be in a rush and accept an offer that you do not feel comfortable with.
How is a Claim Evaluated
An insurance claims adjuster looks at various factors to determine how much your claim is worth. First, they may look at the total economic losses you suffered. For example, if your loved one died several days after getting involved in a car accident, medical bills will have piled up. If you decided to bury or cremate your loved one, a claims adjuster will also consider the funeral bills.
However, economic losses are not simply medical bills. You may also experience property damage and lost wages, all of which you may seek in the form of damages.
One factor that may often be overlooked is how much the at-fault party can afford to pay. After all, even if you have a valid claim, if the other party cannot pay the full amount, then you will not be able to receive the compensation you deserve. If the negligent party was a Fortune 500 company, you will likely receive the full compensation if you win your case. However, not all negligent parties are Fortune 500 companies. For example, in car accident cases, most drivers have car insurance that with a policy limit on their liability coverage. Thus, if your losses are worth more than the at-fault driver’s policy limit, you may not be able to collect the full amount of your claim.
Tips for a successful claim
Know How Much Your Claim Is Worth
When you begin to negotiate your car accident claim with State Farm, the adjuster may not initially offer you the amount of compensation you deserve. . Therefore, you must do your own investigation as if you were the claims adjuster but one who is trying to get you as much compensation as possible. We also recommend that you ask the claims adjuster for a settlement amount significantly higher than the amount you actually need. This is because there is a likelihood that the agent will give you a counteroffer that is more likely to match the amount you need.
Document as Much as Possible
After an accident, you should document all the losses you have incurred because of your injury. By documenting your losses, you will have a solid foundation for the amount you seek in your claim. Therefore, be sure to collect all the receipts of medical expenses and the like. Also, if you have missed work because of your injury, you will want to document your paystubs to seek compensation for lost wages.
Also, after a personal injury accident, be sure to take photographs of the accident itself. For instance, if you got into a car wreck and are able, take photographs of the car crash and any injuries you received.
Keep Your Story Straight
In general, human memory is fallible. Though it is okay to not remember things accurately most of the time, you do not want to mix up your story when speaking with an insurance claims adjuster. If you, for instance, tell the insurance adjuster that the other driver hit you because he was on his phone, but in a later conversation, you say that you do not remember whether he was on his phone or not, you may have potentially given the insurance adjuster a reason to doubt the validity of your claim. Therefore, be sure to write down a statement that details what occurred during the accident and do not deviate from that statement when speaking with an insurance adjuster.
CONTACT A LAWYER
The experienced Tucson attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you negotiate your car accident claim with State Farm. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.