State Farm is one of the largest insurers in the United States.
Many New Jersey drivers carry State Farm insurance policies, so the company is intimately involved in many traffic disputes.
As a leading New Jersey car accident law firm, we have sat across from State Farm in many cases.
We understand exactly how this company operates and want to use our knowledge to help you get the maximum compensation you are entitled to for your injuries.
Reporting an Accident to State Farm
New Jersey is a “no fault” state, which means that if you have been in an accident, you turn to your own insurance to get compensation.
This means you may need to make a claim with State Farm for the accident. You can reach out to State Farm to report the accident online.
You’ll need some information handy so you can file a claim:
- The insurance policy number for the other driver;
- A copy of the police report for the accident;
- Any pictures of the accident; and
- Identification and contact information for witnesses to the crash.
State Farm should assign you a claim number, which you should hold on to. This is the number you will need to help track your claim as it works its way through the system.
What You Need to Know about State Farm
State Farm did not grow so large by making generous settlement offers to injured motorists. Instead, State Farm is like every other insurance company in the United States—intensely interested in its bottom line. This means the company will try to reject your claim if they can.
State Farm insurance claims begin with assigning your case to a claims adjuster. This person can investigate what happened in order to determine liability.
If the State Farm driver is not responsible for the accident, then State Farm can get out of paying compensation. Also, if your injuries are less serious than you think, then State Farm can get away with paying less compensation.
State Farm has many techniques for finding out information to use against you. You should have an attorney help you make a claim and handle all communications with State Farm to protect your right to compensation.
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Giving Recorded Statements to State Farm
One technique State Farm and other insurers use to minimize claims against them is to ask for a recorded statement.
It is usually a mistake to give one. Here’s why:
The insurer will try to get information out of you that helps them get out of paying a fair settlement.
For example, the insurer might say, “You weren’t as injured as you initially thought, right?” or “your pain isn’t that bad….” If you are not paying close attention to what the adjuster is saying, then you can agree to these statements even though they are false.
The adjuster might also try to get you to say something that sounds like you are accepting responsibility for the crash. This could allow State Farm to reduce the amount they pay you or get out of offering a settlement altogether!
Understanding What Damages You May Be Entitled To
Who was at fault and what types of harm you suffered will affect what damages you may ultimately be entitled to. While you will generally turn to your own policy to recover expenses for medical costs and property damage, where other damages exist, such as pain and suffering, you may need to seek other avenues of recovery.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
In New Jersey, the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage on your own insurance policy can be used to cover monetary losses such as:
- Medical expenses,
- Property damage,
- Lost wages, and
- Travel to medical appointments.
PIP coverage is sometimes referred to as “no-fault” coverage because regardless of who caused the accident, your PIP insurance should take care of these economic damages up to the PIP coverage limits. It’s important that you keep thorough documentation to support your claimed losses.
Unfortunately, if you have significant expenses, your PIP coverage may not be enough. Additionally, PIP generally won’t compensate you for noneconomic losses like pain and suffering. But in some circumstances, you may be able to sue an at-fault driver to recover those types of losses.
Recovering for Damages Outside of PIP Coverage
You can’t sue an at-fault party in every case because New Jersey’s at-fault rules limit your right to sue. However, for serious accidents, you may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. You can sue an at-fault driver if you suffered any of the following:
- Permanent injury,
- Loss of a body part,
- Loss of a fetus,
- Loss of a body part,
- Displaced fracture, or
In these circumstances, you can seek compensation from an at-fault driver for economic losses not covered by PIP, as well as non-economic damages for more intangible losses. Non-economic losses that you may be able to recover include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Loss of companionship or consortium.
If the at-fault driver did not have insurance or had inadequate insurance, you may alternatively pursue a claim for these damages under your State Farm uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
Understanding what damages may exist in your case will help you ascertain what you should seek from a settlement with State Farm. Always consult with an attorney to make sure that you have accurately calculated your damages so that you can get the compensation you deserve.
How to Maximize Your Compensation from State Farm
There are many things injured motorists can do to get a fair settlement for State Farm insurance claims. Some steps to take include:
- Call the police out to the accident soon after it happens. It’s the law, and a police report is very useful for establishing basic information about the crash.
- Seek immediate medical attention. As soon as practicable, you should seek a professional medical diagnosis of your injuries. Even if you do not believe you sustained any injuries, it is important to get this verified. Having proof of your injuries is crucial to getting the compensation you deserve. Additionally, make sure that you continue to monitor how you feel in the coming days, weeks, and months.
- Keep detailed records of all money spent because of the accident. For example, you should hang onto all medical bills, prescription drug receipts, repair estimates, and proof that you missed work. Many of our clients receive compensation for all these losses.
- Carefully document the accident’s effect on your life. Medical records can establish your physical injuries, but what about your pain and suffering? You should keep a journal where you daily document your pain—its location, severity, and how it has disrupted your life.
Then make sure to hire a lawyer. A lawyer will handle all communications with State Farm and can negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
How State Farm Lowballs Our Clients
State Farm is not an unethical company. However, there is a clear reason why they don’t offer fair compensation—they undervalue your pain and suffering.
It can be difficult for State Farm to dispute that you are owed compensation for your economic damages, such as damage to your vehicle, medical care related to your injuries, or lost wages if you had to take time off to recover. Sure, State Farm might claim you didn’t need all the medical care you received, but they generally come close to a fair amount for these economic losses.
However, as discussed above, under New Jersey law, you can also receive compensation for your non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering in some circumstances. And it is here that State Farm and other insurers will undervalue your claim.
This is often due to the subjective nature of non-economic damages. Things like “pain and suffering” or “loss of enjoyment of life” can be difficult to prove. It can also be difficult to assign a monetary value to these types of non-economic damages. Thus, receiving compensation from State Farm for these damages will frequently feel like an uphill battle.
We have seen State Farm offer some injured motorists little to no money for their pain and suffering, which is clearly unacceptable. Having an attorney in your corner who understands what damages exist can be a great benefit in maximizing your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can advocate on your behalf to fight against the lowball offers that are all too common in claims with State Farm.
Without an attorney, you might make a mistake and quickly sign a settlement offer. Remember this: once you sign a settlement agreement, you will not be getting any more money from State Farm for that accident. You need to get a fair settlement now because you won’t get another bite at the apple.
How an Attorney Can Help
The benefit of having an attorney’s guidance throughout your claim with State Farm cannot be overstated. An experienced lawyer can help you collect necessary evidence you will need to pursue your claim, calculate your damages, and communicate with State Farm. In short, an attorney can help make a stressful process feel a little more manageable and help you maximize your settlement.
Even if you feel like you can handle a claim with State Farm on your own, you should always seek the advice of an attorney before agreeing to any settlement offer. At the very least, request a consultation to assess your claims and ensure you are not missing out on any compensation you might deserve.
Need Help with State Farm Claims?
Don’t go up against an insurance company alone. At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, we have negotiated with all of New Jersey’s largest insurers, and we know how to drive a hard bargain. With us by your side, you will have someone looking out for your best interests.
Contact us today. We offer free consultation, which is easy to schedule.