Car Accident Claims With State Farm in Atlanta
State Farm is one of the largest car insurance companies in the state of Georgia and as a result your are statistically more likely to be involved in a car accident with someone insured by them. Are they hard to deal with? Not in my opinion.
There are certainly some adjusters who can be a real pain and don't have the experience necessary to distinguish between a real injury claim and someone who is just looking to turn a profit, but on balance, they have experienced adjusters.
Can You Do It Yourself?
As a consumer trying to deal directly with them for an injury claim, there is no danger so long as the injury is fairly simple and direct. The trouble starts when consumers try to deal with DUI crashes or crashes involving medical bills in excess of $5,000. The adjusters that deal with unrepresented people are good at the plain vanilla kind of case. Those adjuster will costs you thousands though if you are dealing with gross medical bills (before health insurance pays) of $4,000-5,000. Adjusters are gambling on the fact that most folks do not want to hire a lawyer. State Farm is more than happy to use the conservative nature of the citizens of Georgia to wrangle a below market value settlement. What are some of the tools they use?
- You did not have to pay the gross medical bills so we will pay for your deductible on your health insurance. (This is contrary to the law especially since you may have to repay your health insurance's payout)
- Your lost wages are only considered at 80% (I don't know who made this one up)
- You went to physical therapy too much so we only considered a certain number of visits. (This assumes you should tell your doctor how to treat you)
Clients involved in car accidents involving drivers insured by State Farm will frequently ask, "What are they like? Will they settle with me?" The short answer is that any insurer will settle with you if the number is small enough, so the real question should be, "will State Farm settle my case for a fair number?" For the answer to that all important question, read on:
Factors that play into where you will get a fair settlement offer from State Farm before suit is filed:
- A lawyer who actually takes their cases to trial versus settles everything like a TV lawyer
- Moderate or high damage to the cars? Big plus
- Significant Injury or one that shows up on objection testing, cracked ribs, cerebral bleeding, lacerations, etc.
- Clear Liability
- DUI by defendant driver
- Lack of pre-existing injury, prior claims or severe degenerative changes in the injured body part.
If you have these factors, then State Farm is likely to take the case seriously, assign it to a seasoned adjuster and you should see offers that come in at the lower end of the expected verdict range. The personality and life experience of the adjuster and their familiarity with your lawyer can also make a big difference.
State Farm does use computer based valuation systems where they input medical bills and treatment codes. The system takes into account all of the factors that go into how much an injury case is worth in Georgia.
In our experience, the initial offer that State Farm makes is usually around 85 of the final pre-suit offer.
If your case is a low impact claim, involved mostly chiropractic care, non-objective injuries or you have significant prior claims or medical issues, then the odds are you will need to litigate and try your case to verdict to get fair value. Keep in mind, there is no math formula for pain and suffering. Most dumb lawyers these days tell their clients that it is two times the medical bills. That is a gross generalization and is inaccurate. Chiropractic cases with $6,000 in bills may be worth $8-10,000 if there is good visible damage to the cars. Less, if the damage is an issue. Conversely a case with a real orthopedist and physical therapy and the same billing totals will be $3-4,000 higher in value. Why? It reflects the fact that juries respect physical therapists and MDs more than chiropractors with inflated bills.
Ok, So My Lawyer Filed the Lawsuit, Now What?
State Farm's in house lawyers can be very frustrating as they generally keep their heads down, stick to the basics and try an excellent case, without noticing when a case merits reconsideration. Their outside counsel tend to do a better job recognizing cases that are problematic for State Farm.
State Farm will stick to their evaluation unless there is a substantial fact change along the way. Understand that no one is wary of the cost of litigation. Insurance companies are multi-billion dollar companies and they look at the cost to defend your case as a cost of doing business. It may be cost ineffective in the micro sense with just your case, but it deters the douchey TV lawyers and saves hundreds of thousands in the macro sense.