State Farm is the biggest auto insurer in the nation, making hundreds of millions in profit each year. State Farm isn’t evil, but they are a business first and a “good neighbor” second. If you’ve been injured in a car wreck or hit and run accident, your best chance of recovering the money you deserve is with an experienced Milwaukee auto accident lawyer.
Factors affecting your State Farm payout
1. Anything you say to a State Farm representative will be recorded, and if possible, used to dispute or deny your claim. The insurance company will collect information from the accident scene, witnesses, police reports, and more. Whenever possible, the information they gather will be used to delay, dispute, or deny your claim.
2. A State Farm claim adjuster may ask you to sign medical authorization forms granting the insurance company access to all your medical records. Even unrelated or long-past details from your personal medical history can be used to deny or dispute your claim. Remember: the person you are speaking with may be nice, but the job of every insurance employee is to settle your claim for as little money as possible.
Handling a State Farm claim without an attorney
Insurance adjusters are trained to settle injury claims quickly with the smallest possible payout. The best way to handle a claims adjuster is to speak to a personal injury attorney first and have them take over all communication. If you choose to settle your claim on your own, keep the 3 items below in mind:
1. A printed settlement check is only an offer. It’s not a definitive statement of the value of your claim. Usually, it’s a lowball offer they hope you’ll take. Once you deposit the check, the case is closed and you can never pursue further compensation for your injuries. Our advice: Don’t cash it. At least not until you meet with an attorney during a free initial consultation.
2. There is a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations is 3 years. After that, your one bargaining chip is lost and you will have to take whatever settlement amount State Farm offers. Insurance companies are notorious for delaying claims past the statute of limitations, forcing you to accept their offer. Your best chance of getting the settlement amount you deserve is with a personal injury lawyer.
3. If an insurance company representative advises you not to speak to an attorney, don’t listen. It’s in their best interest for you to settle your claim on your own. They may tell YOU not to hire a lawyer, but they have dozens if not hundreds of lawyers protecting their own interests. Show them you mean business with representation of your own.
How to negotiate against a lowball State Farm settlement offer
1. Do your homework. Be prepared to explain the reason for your injury claim. If you can make specific points proving the value of your claim it demonstrates knowledge of the process and shows the claims adjuster you’re serious.
2. Do the math. Save every medical bill, receipts for prescription or non-prescription medical expenses (braces, bandages), written repair estimates, mileage going to and from the doctor, and any other related costs.
Costs to consider when calculating the value of your claim:
- Property damage
- Car rental
- Hospital deductible
- Prescription drugs
- Chiropractic care
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Future medical expenses
3. Don’t be rushed. You WILL get a low-ball settlement offer, and settlement negotiations can drain your time and energy. Making the process difficult and time-consuming is part of their strategy. Always be polite and respectful, and keep in mind the time limit for filing a lawsuit.
4. Don’t trust “sign and settle” lawyers. A firm or attorney boasting about how many cases they’ve settled is probably a settlement mill. They’re quick to take their cut of an insurance payout and move on to the next case—regardless of whether the amount fairly compensates damages and pain and suffering.
5. Consider talking to a personal injury attorney experienced in dealing with insurance companies. You may be wondering how to file a personal injury claim without a lawyer, but you should know Warshafsky Law has a reputation for winning huge settlement amounts in jury trials, and our reputation typically prompts a much higher settlement offer from insurance companies. Don't take chances with your one chance to collect compensation--make sure your rights are protected and your State Farm claim is properly valued.