If you watch TV, you’re probably familiar with the Allstate Insurance slogan: “You’re in good hands with Allstate.” While this may be true for drivers insured by Allstate, the same cannot be said for injury victims who try to file a claim with the insurance giant. Too often, they find themselves dealing with shady tactics that are designed to minimize the amount of compensation that they recover for their injuries.
Like other insurance companies, Allstate is in business to make money. Their goal is to resolve your accident claim for as little money as possible. A West Virginia personal injury attorney can help you get maximum compensation for your injuries, such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and emotional distress.
At Johnstone & Gabhart, we are dedicated to helping accident victims get the money that they need to move forward with their lives. With decades of combined experience in West Virginia personal injury law, we have the knowledge and skills to take on big corporations like Allstate Insurance Company. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
Getting Compensated for an Allstate Claim
Despite advances in motor vehicle safety, far too many West Virginians are injured or even killed in auto accidents. In fact, in just a one year period, 341 West Virginia residents died and another 292 people were injured due to motor vehicle accidents. So what can you do if you are in a car accident with someone insured by Allstate?
If the other driver caused the accident, then you may be able to file a personal injury claim with Allstate Insurance. In West Virginia, personal injury claims are based on a theory of negligence, which is a legal term for a type of carelessness. A person is negligent if they fail to use the level of care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation.
People can be negligent in any number of ways. Examples of negligence include:
- Distracted driving (texting while driving)
- Rear end crashes
- Not paying attention
- Failure to yield
- Drunk driving
- Turning without looking
- Not fixing dangerous conditions on your property (slip and fall)
- Failing to properly train and leash your dog (dog bites)
No matter how your accident or injury happened, if you were injured because of something that someone else did – or failed to do – then you may be able to file a claim against their insurance company.
The claims process typically starts when the at-fault party notifies Allstate Insurance Company of the incident. For example, if another driver runs a red light and crashes into your car, then they will call their insurer to report the accident. Similarly, a homeowner would call their insurance company if you slipped and fell on their property.
Allstate will then begin the investigation process. They will usually reach out to the injury victim through a claims adjuster. The adjuster will probably try to get you to give a statement or ask you to sign documents – which you should not do before talking to a personal injury lawyer.
Along with other major insurance companies like State Farm, Allstate is notorious for using a “deny, delay, defend” strategy to resolve cases for as little money as possible (or nothing at all). That is why it can be so hard to get fair compensation from Allstate without legal representation. Their entire system is set up to minimize the amount of money that they pay out on accident claims!
Allstate uses a software program, Colossus, that helps insurance adjusters determine the value of a claim and make a settlement offer. This software was developed for insurance companies, with the goal of settling claims for as little money as possible. In many cases, until you get a lawyer involved, the claims adjuster won’t move past that initial lowball settlement offer provided by Colossus.
For this reason, the best way to get fair compensation for all of your losses is to hire an experienced West Virginia car accident attorney. After all, Allstate Insurance Company has teams of adjusters and lawyers on its side. Shouldn’t you have someone to represent your interests?
Dealing with Allstate Claims Adjusters
In the aftermath of an accident, you are probably dealing with quite a lot – frequent trips to your doctor or physical therapist, lost wages from being out of work, and both physical pain and emotional trauma. On top of all of that, you may be under financial stress between your medical expenses and lost wages. When an insurance adjuster approaches you, it can be incredibly tempting to take whatever money they offer so that you can move forward with your life.
Taking an initial settlement offer is never a good idea. Remember – Allstate Insurance Co. uses a software program to come up with low settlement amounts for insurance claims. There is little to no chance that this offer will represent a fair settlement.
Allstate became one of the largest insurance companies in the country by underpaying claims. They do this in a number of ways, such as delaying claims until injury victims get frustrated and accept whatever settlement they can get. They also may ask you to sign paperwork that seriously undermines your rights.
For example, an adjuster may ask you to sign a release so that they can review your medical records and get you paid. What they won’t tell you is that the release is overly broad, covering years of your medical history. They do this for a reason – to go on a fishing expedition into your medical records to try to find some other cause for your injuries.
The best way to deal with an Allstate insurance adjuster is to not deal with them at all. Instead, you should reach out to a personal injury law firm as soon as possible for a free consultation. If you choose to hire an attorney, they will take on the burden of communication with Allstate for you.
At the same time, your lawyer will protect your interests and legal rights. They will ensure that you do not give a statement to Allstate Insurance Company that you harm your case, or sign any paperwork that could make it hard for you to get maximum compensation. They will also work hard to put together the strongest possible claim for damages based on their own experience and West Virginia law.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Allstate
The majority of personal injury claims are resolved via settlement. However, it may still be necessary to file a lawsuit to get the money that you deserve. This is particularly true if Allstate is acting in bad faith to delay, deny, or minimize your claim.
Filing a lawsuit does not mean that your case will go to trial. Instead, it is a way to preserve your legal rights and continue negotiations. These negotiations can continue up until the eve of trial.
Once the lawsuit has been filed, the parties will start to exchange information during the discovery process. Discovery can take many forms, including depositions (oral testimony), producing documentary evidence, and answering questions in writing. In many cases, your attorney will learn information during discovery that can be used to convince Allstate to offer a fair settlement.
A settlement for a personal injury claim can include damages (compensation) for things like:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In some cases, you may even be able to recover punitive damages, which are meant to penalize a wrongdoer. Punitive damages are only available in cases where the at-fault party acted intentionally or recklessly, such as a drunk driving case.
While Allstate may make an initial settlement that covers your actual losses – like property damage and medical bills – these offers rarely cover the full scope of your damage. Allstate is notorious for downplaying items like future medical expenses and intangible losses like pain and suffering or emotional trauma.
The best way to get a top-dollar Allstate settlement is to work with a skilled West Virginia personal injury lawyer. When you hire an attorney, Allstate knows that their usual bad faith tactics won’t work. They also know that you can and will take the case to trial if necessary to get the money that you are entitled to under the law.
Because of this, it is critical that you reach out to a seasoned WV accident attorney as soon as possible after you are hurt. Your lawyer will get to work right away to get you maximum compensation through an Allstate settlement.
How Long Will It Take to Settle My Allstate Claim?
It depends. If the case is relatively straightforward and you have a lawyer, then your Allstate claim could be settled in as little as a few months. If Allstate denies liability or some aspect of your claim and it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, it could take more than a year to resolve the case.
Of course, settling quickly isn’t always the best option – especially if Allstate wants to pay you pennies on the dollar for your claim. If you want to get max compensation, give our law office a call to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against Allstate?
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in West Virginia is two years. This means that – with some exceptions – if you don’t file a lawsuit within two years of the date of your accident, then you might not be able to pursue your claim at all. If you try, Allstate will seek to have the case dismissed.
This time limitation is why it is often necessary to file a lawsuit against Allstate even if you don’t want to go to trial. Filing a lawsuit preserves your rights and allows negotiations to continue. Contact Johnstone & Gabhart today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced WV accident lawyer about your claim.
How Much Is My Allstate Accident Claim Worth?
The value of your claim is based on a number of factors, such as the nature of the injuries that you suffered, whether you suffered a permanent injury, if you were partially responsible, and the value of the at-fault party’s insurance policy. For example, if you suffered soft tissue injuries in a slip and fall, your case may be worth less than a person who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a similar accident.
During a free consultation, a personal injury lawyer will give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your Allstate claim. This number may increase or decrease as the case moves forward. To get the best possible recovery for your claim, call Johnstone & Gabhart today for a free consultation.
Filing an Allstate Accident Claim? Call Us First.
Allstate is notorious for being one of the most difficult insurance companies to deal with if you are filing a third-party insurance claim. If you have been hurt in any type of accident with someone who has an Allstate auto insurance policy, give our law firm a call.
Based in Charleston, Johnstone & Gabhart represents people throughout West Virginia who have been hurt in accidents. For each client, our goal is to get the maximum compensation for their injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a WV personal injury lawyer, give us a call at 304-343-7100 or fill out our online contact form.