Like many large insurance companies, State Farm can be formidable if you find them on the other side of your personal injury claim. They are often so quick to deny claims that they frequently face bad faith lawsuits.
Winning a settlement against them is difficult but not impossible. If you hire a personal injury lawyer, you are more likely to be successful and not get worn down in the process. Here is what you need to know about State Farm.
The State Farm Approach
State Farm currently ranks at 33 on the Fortune 500 list and employs 68,234 workers. Its high market share makes them a common defendant in personal injury cases. If you recently sustained injuries in an accident, there is a good chance that the other driver is a State Farm policyholder.
Lay-Offs Cause Overworked Employees
Last year, the company closed down claim processing facilities and displaced employees. There is disruption in the ranks and low employee morale as workers fear being the next casualty of a lay-off. Between stress and overworked claims adjusters, consistent communication during the claims process is difficult. It may take longer than expected to hear responses to settlement offers.
State Farm often uses the strategy of exhaustion through endless questions and claim denials. Unless you have an especially egregious case where their policyholder either drove impaired or recklessly, they will look for ways to discredit your claim.
One example is a case here in West Virginia. It involved a plaintiff who was rear ended by a driver who did not see him as she drove over a hill. There was one small suggestion that the plaintiff slowed down too rapidly and State Farm considered the accident to be his fault and denied the claim. A jury disagreed and assigned him 10 percent of the fault but the other 90 percent was on the State Farm policyholder. This allowed the plaintiff damages.
Assuming All Claims Are Unjustified
This is not the only time State Farm pushed this fight. There are two lawsuits for breach of contract pending in this state because it is believed that the company goes way beyond typical insurance company investigation and assumes all claims are unjustified. The lawsuits are filed by its own policyholders who needed to access underinsured motorist coverage. Even with its own people, State Farm takes a ruthless approach to claims.
These cases involved serious injuries and a fault scenario that seemed clear. Yet State Farm was still willing to fight it. If your claim produced less that $10,000 in medical expenses or you did not feel symptoms at the time of the accident, you will likely face additional resistance. Your soft tissue injury may limit work and life, but State Farm will refuse to see it that way.
Objective evidence is the key to handling State Farm. If you have wage loss and high medical expenses, adjusters will consider them if they are firmly documented.
Unfortunately, this is helpful but not a guarantee. Adjusters are more likely to look for ways to show your treatment was excessive or unnecessary than honor these expenses. It is very likely that you will need to sue before they make a fair offer. That is especially true if you sustained soft tissue injuries like whiplash and did not suffer serious injuries.
Even if you successfully negotiate a good settlement, you must remain vigilant. State Farm has a history of ignoring medical liens and failing in other follow up steps. If you are on your own, settlement may not be the end of your ordeal. You will need to assure liens are paid or you may be on the hook for them.
Hire a Lawyer
A claim involving State Farm is likely to become a difficult experience. This is especially true if you decide to take them on without a lawyer. It is unlikely that your claim will be taken seriously or treated as a priority unless you hire a personal injury attorney.
Johnstone & Gabhart, LLP represents plaintiffs in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio and we have handled many State Farm claims. We can work with them and their avoidance strategies while you focus on recovery. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and make this experience a less burdensome ordeal.