Allstate is a large insurance company that handles many types of insurance, including auto insurance. The company has had many lawsuits against it for not paying claims or for paying less than a claim was worth. Allstate may find reasons to pay a pittance or deny a claim, as with all insurance companies.
When you are recovering from a car accident or dealing with losing a loved one, the last thing you need is to fight with the insurance company. You can take several steps to help prevent a claim through Allstate from turning bad, including retaining a car accident lawyer to fight the insurance company for you.
Before Filing a Claim With Allstate Insurance
Before you file a claim, you should take some steps to protect your legal rights, if possible, including:
- Call 911 to report the accident.
- Take photos of the accident scene. Be sure to take pictures from all angles.
- Obtain contact information from witnesses, including passengers in the vehicle that hit you.
- Obtain the other driver’s contact, registration, insurance, and vehicle information.
- Allow emergency medical technicians to check you over, even if you believe your injuries are minor. This is the first step to documenting your case.
- Never admit fault or discuss the accident with anyone except your attorney, including those at the scene. The one exception is to tell the police officer writing the report what happened, out of earshot of others. Let an attorney determine whether you were in the wrong or not.
- Never post your daily activities or information about the accident on any social media site. Insurance companies can troll social media accounts looking for reasons to deny a claim. Even something as innocent as going out to dinner with your spouse or children is something the insurance company may use to show that your injuries are not as bad as you claim.
- Seek medical attention as soon after the accident as possible. The longer you wait, the more reason Allstate and other insurance companies have to claim your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
- Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible so the attorney can gather the evidence before it disappears.
While many accident victims call the insurance company themselves to report it, it is recommended to immediately retain a car accident attorney and let the attorney file the claim. The insurance company will ask you about the accident you could inadvertently say something they will use against you.
If you contact Allstate Insurance to file a claim, take note of your conversation, including the representative you spoke with, the date and time you called, and what you discussed.
Once you or your attorney files the accident claim, Allstate will assign a claims adjuster to investigate the accident. However, the claims adjusters work for the insurance company and will look out for the insurance company’s best interests, not yours. That means the adjuster will find reasons to deny a claim or to offer a lesser amount one that may not cover your medical expenses, never mind other damages you could otherwise recover.
What did the Allstate Claims Adjuster do?
The insurance adjuster will ask you to provide a recorded or written statement do not do this. The insurance company can use anything you say or write in the statement against you, and they are famous for twisting what you say to lay the blame at your feet.
The adjuster asks you for a statement so that they can find information to use against you. Allstate might also ask you for a medical records release. They do not need copies of your medical records, so do not sign a medical release. The only documents you should produce, preferably through an attorney, are those related to the accident.
Always keep copies of documents you submit to a claims adjuster or attorney. Once the adjuster completes his investigation, they might make a settlement offer. You should not accept any offer without showing it to an attorney. In most cases, if you do receive an offer, it is much lower than what you deserve.
Why You Should Retain a Car Accident Lawyer?
While you can attempt to negotiate with Allstate, it is better to have a car accident lawyer conduct settlement negotiations. The attorney knows the laws and the insurance company’s tricks, so the insurance company is much less likely to convince you to accept a bad-faith offer.
Information Required in a Settlement Offer
When you retain an attorney for a car accident settlement, and you settle with the insurance company, you know the agreement contains everything it should, including but not limited to:
- A list of all damages you will receive compensation for.
- The value of your claim.
- Language and the proper signature blocks to ensure the settlement is a legally binding agreement.
Additionally, settling before you finish medical treatment could cause you to lose out on compensation for medical expenses. However, in cases where doctors expect accident injuries to cause long-term or permanent damages, you settle early. However, your attorney negotiates compensation for future medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and other damages.
Once you sign a settlement agreement, you cannot ask for more money if you learn your injuries are more severe than you thought. Thus, knowing how much your claim is worth before you start settlement negotiations is better.
To learn how much your claim is worth, you must know which damages the at-fault driver should pay. You cannot count on Allstate or any other insurance company to tell you this since they will try to pay as little as possible, if not nothing.
Depending on your state, you could recover two types of compensatory and punitive damages. The court orders compensatory damages in an attempt to make you whole again. However, it only orders punitive damages to punish the defendant’s grossly negligent behavior.
In most cases where you can prove the defendant was at fault for the accident, you could recover compensatory damages in the form of economic damages. Those who suffer catastrophic injuries or lose a loved one in a car accident could recover non-economic damages.
Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value.
Almost anyone in a car accident that can prove negligence on the defendant’s part can collect economic damages, which include:
- Medical expenses, including appointments, prescriptions, ambulatory aids, and medical equipment. Costs could also include hand controls for your vehicle and updates to your home, such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars, handrails, and widened doorways.
- Therapy expenses, including psychological, occupational, physical, and cognitive therapies.
- Lost wages from the time of the accident through the time you settle or win a trial award.
- Loss of future earning capacity. Even if you can work part-time or your injuries force you to take a full-time job that pays less than you previously made, you could still recover partial loss of future earning capacity. The defendant could have to pay enough to cover your loss from settlement or a trial award through the time you would typically retire.
- Death-related expenses, including funeral and burial expenses, cremation expenses, and probate attorney’s fees and costs. If you attempt to go through the probate process without an attorney, you could recover certain probate court expenses, such as filing fees.
Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a monetary value.
Usually, only those who suffer long-term or permanent disabilities caused by accident injuries and those who lost a loved one can recover non-economic damages, which include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to make life-long changes, such as taking prescriptions or using ambulatory aids.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy time with your family or participate and family activities and events.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of use of a body part such as an arm or a foot.
- Loss of use of a bodily function such as your eyesight or bladder.
- Amputation of a limb or digit.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do your usual chores, such as grocery shopping, home repair and maintenance, house cleaning, and lawn maintenance.
- Disfigurement or excessive scarring.
Gross negligence is not the same as negligence. You must prove the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional to recover punitive damages. Most states require a bifurcated trial to recover punitive damages because you can only recover them if the court awards you compensatory damages. However, in some cases, it is worth the extra time it takes to recover punitive damages.
Starting Settlement Negotiations with Allstate
Before your attorney starts negotiations with Allstate, they must ensure that they begin within the statute of limitations and that you have all of the evidence that shows Allstate’s client was negligent.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations allows you to bring an action against a negligent person or entity for a certain number of years. Each state has its statute of limitations, whether a year, two years, or more.
If your state has a statute of limitations for two years, that does not mean you can wait until 23 months have passed to file a claim. The sooner you retain an attorney, the sooner she can start investigating your case and collecting evidence.
Evidence and Proof of Negligence
Unfortunately, people forget what they see, and evidence tends to disappear if you wait too long. The weather could eradicate proof, and others could inadvertently destroy it. For example, if the police release the defendant’s vehicle, the defendant could repair it so they can drive it again. The repairs could destroy the evidence you need to prove the defendant was negligent.
What Is Negligence?
To prove negligence, the defendant needs to meet all four elements:
- Duty of care. In a car accident, all drivers have the duty of care to drive so as not to put others at risk for injury or death.
- The defendant must breach that duty of care. A breach could mean driving recklessly, distracted, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or aggressively.
- The defendant’s actions must cause your injuries or the death of a loved one.
- You must suffer damages (losses) because of the defendant’s actions.
Once your attorney has everything together, he can draft a demand letter.
The demand letter discusses:
- Facts of the case.
- Your injuries.
- A fair and reasonable settlement amount.
- A time frame for the defense to respond.
Once the defendant usually the defendant’s insurance company’s attorneys receive the demand letter, it could:
- Accept the demand.
- Submit a counteroffer.
- Deny the claim.
If the defendant accepts the demand, which is unusual, one of the attorneys drafts a settlement agreement for you and Allstate to sign.
If Allstate submits a counteroffer, you can accept or decline it. You could submit your counteroffer or move forward to litigation.
If Allstate denies the claim, you can move forward to litigation.
When Allstate Refuses a Fair and Reasonable Settlement
If Allstate finds evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you say, it could stand firm on a lower amount or deny your claim. It is then up to you to take Allstate to court to prove your injuries are as severe as you claim and that you deserve a fair and reasonable amount.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a car wreck, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.