At Malman Law, P.C., we are committed to fighting for injury victims’ rights, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that you receive every penny you are entitled to as quickly as possible.
State Farm is far and away the largest auto insurance company in the United States, writing well over $30 billion in premiums. Although this insurance industry giant cultivates the image of a “good neighbor,” it operates under the same incentives as any other for-profit business does: The key to profit is maximizing revenues and minimizing expenditures, and injury claims are expenditures. Once you file a claim against State Farm, don’t be surprised to find them behaving less like a “good neighbor” and more like a competing business operating right next door to yours.
Most auto accident victims resolve their cases by filing third-party insurance claims against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance policy. State Farm will under no circumstances pay out beyond its policy limits, regardless of the value of your claim. Unfortunately, many at-fault drivers lack the personal financial resources to make up the difference between the value of your claim and the amount paid out by State Farm, forcing you to look for alternative sources of compensation (see below).
You may claim against your own State Farm uninsured/underinsured motorist policy if:
In all cases, you can expect State Farm to be looking for ways to reduce the value of your claim or deny it altogether. Unless you are an extremely skilled negotiator with expert knowledge of auto insurance claims adjuster tactics, you will be at a serious disadvantage without skilled legal representation by your side to protect your interests.
Insurance company adjusters are professionals at saving money for their employers, and most of them carry an invisible bag of tricks with them to any contact with an unrepresented claimant. Some of the most common tricks are:
These are only a few of the dozens of tactics commonly used by auto insurance companies to deny liability altogether or pay out a fraction of what a claim is worth. At Malman Law, we have seen it all many times before and we know how to protect you.
Obviously, it is much easier to win a judgment or settlement against a drunk driver than against a sober one. Victory is not guaranteed in every instance, however, and just how much easier it is to win depends on various facts. Was the driver arrested for DUI at the scene of the accident? If not, you may have a hard time proving it. Even if you do, you will also have to prove that the driver’s intoxication actually caused the accident. While this is normally unproblematic, under certain circumstances it can be difficult to prove.
On the bright side, you could win a claim against an intoxicated driver even if he or she was acquitted in criminal court. The reason for this is that in a civil lawsuit (and by extension, a private settlement negotiations), you only have to prove liability by a more likely than not standard rather than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard used for a criminal prosecution. This means that you need only prove more likely than not that the other driver negligently caused the accident.
Under certain circumstances, you can sue the vendor who sold the drunk driver alcohol, although your recovery from the vendor would be subject to certain dollar limits.
A problem naturally arises if the other driver was uninsured or underinsured at the time of the accident, because you face the possibility of being unable to satisfy a judgment even if you do win the case. You may have several options, however, depending on the facts of your case:
It depends on the nature of your injury and the possible relationship between the injury you are filing a claim for and your pre-existing injury. If you have chronic back problems, for example, and you claim a back injury in a vehicle accident, you can expect State Farm to question whether your current injury was caused by the accident or whether it was pre-existing. At the very least, you can expect State Farm to deny part of the claim based on your pre-existing injury.
Nevertheless, it is important to be honest about your injury right from the start, because it will not be helpful if you appear to be trying to hide something.
Not unless you have issued written permission, either in the form of an authorization to accept a settlement within certain specific parameters, or if you have medical problems that prevent you from making the decision of settlement yourself (a power of attorney in favor of your lawyer, which allows him or her to make settlement decisions on your behalf). A lawyer who accepts a settlement on your behalf without your consent can be subject to disciplinary action by the Illinois State Bar Association, and may even be barred from the practice of law.
2 years ago I was involved in a trucking accident involving a 14-wheeler truck that nearly disabled me for life. Steve fought to make sure that I received the most possible compensation for my injuries. I was about to take the insurance company’s lowball offer, but decided to call Steve first – it was the best decision I’ve made yet
NOAH TAFFELPersonal Injury Victim