Since the Depression Era, Allstate Corporation has provided automobile insurance to individuals with the assurance: “You’re in good hands.”
However, if a negligent driver with an Allstate auto liability policy injured you, you may not feel you are in good hands. Insurance companies commonly use tactics to reduce or eliminate payouts for third-party claims. One of the essential steps before filing your claim is hiring a car accident attorney to assist you with the process. Read on for more information about how personal injury lawyers handle Allstate injury claims.
About Allstate Corporation
Allstate was formed as a subsidiary of Sears in 1931, with agents working directly out of Sears department stores and advertising their policies in the company’s catalogs. It became the first insurance provider to tailor insurance rates by the driver’s age, vehicle mileage, and car usage. By the 1950s, when the slogan “You’re in Good Hands” was created, the company doubled in size every two years.
According to a U.S. News and World Report review, Allstate currently has around 16 million customers and service almost 176 million policies. Its annual revenue is about $51 billion, and the company—based in Northbrook, Illinois—also owns several other insurance companies, including Esurance and Encompass.
Allstate’s Third-Party Personal Injury Claims Process
When you are injured by a negligent driver and seeking compensation through their auto liability insurance policy, this is known as a third-party claim.
Allstate notes the following information about their third-party claims process:
- It generally assigns claims to a claims representative or claims adjuster.
- The claims adjuster interviews their insured and the claimant about how the accident occurred, inspects the damage to the vehicles, and other information to determine whether their insured was liable for the accident and how much compensation (if any) is owed to the claimant.
- The amount of compensation available is subject to policy limits, and the company encourages claimants to seek coverage from their insurance provider to obtain compensation for expenses over the limits of the at-fault party’s policy.
- Claimants can check the status of their claim by using the company’s online portal or by calling their 800 number.
How Can an Attorney Help You with Your Third-Party Allstate Claim?
While Allstate makes receiving compensation after a car accident through a third-party claim seems simple, the personal injury claims process can be pretty tricky, featuring obstacles such as:
- A claims adjuster’s job is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line. They will often use several tactics to reduce the amount of the payout, such as: telling the claimant there is no money available for pain and suffering in their claim; offering a meager settlement with the indication that it is all that is available and that the offer must be accepted quickly; or convincing a claimant to authorize the release of their entire medical history to the insurance company to look for pre-existing conditions that could be blamed for the claimant’s current pain.
- A complex legal process in which the claimant is limited on the amount of time they have to file the claim as a lawsuit in court, and that dictates how the claimant can gather evidence to support their claim.
- The claim must be valued to cover all past, present, and future expenses arising from the accident.
- Assistance in collecting the claimant’s settlement or award after the claim has been resolved.
The Services Provided by a Personal Injury Lawyer
Some of the most common reactions when someone suggests hiring an attorney to help with a third-party car accident claim are: “I don’t think my injuries are serious enough to require a lawyer” and “I can’t afford an attorney.”
The reaction is understandable, particularly given that legal matters are usually portrayed in television and movies as long, dramatic court battles and references are often made to “high-priced lawyers” who require retainers.
In truth, it is that the vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved through out-of-court settlements, and personal injury lawyers use a contingent fee billing method that does not require a retainer.
Most personal injury attorney services do not even involve payment until there is a positive resolution to the case. This ensures that our services are available for anyone who needs them, regardless of financial status. Here is a look at the services a personal injury attorney can provide when helping clients with a third-party Allstate claim.
Valuing Your Claim
A claim’s value is not merely a matter of adding up the cost of medical treatment and car repair bills.
You can seek compensation for several expenses and impacts from your accident, including estimates of expenses that you will likely face in the future as a result of permanent injuries, such as:
- Income loss. If there was a period after your accident in which you were too injured to work, you could seek compensation for the loss of income and other benefits for that time. Your attorney will obtain information from you or your employer about your wages and documentation of missed time.
- Loss of future earning capacity. While wage loss compensation covers a temporary absence from work due to the injury you sustained in the accident, loss of future earning capacity covers the impact of permanent injuries on your ability to earn an income until you reach retirement age.
- All expenses related to the medical treatment of your injury, including ambulance transport, emergency services, the services of the physician and other medical staff, surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy and rehabilitation, prescription medications, and even the provision of assistive devices such as a wheelchair, crutches, or prosthetic limbs.
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing your vehicle or complete replacement of the vehicle if the repairs are more than its value.
- Physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-economic impacts you incurred as a result of your injury.
Because non-economic impacts do not feature a price tag or come with a bill, your attorney must determine the value of these impacts by considering such factors as:
- The amount of the at-fault party’s insurance. As noted by Allstate, all insurance policies have policy limits that dictate the maximum amount of compensation available for a claim.
- The severity of the injury. Particularly severe injuries tend to cause more psychological impacts due to the increased need for medical care long after a traditional recovery period, more extended periods of hospitalization, and a greater likelihood that the injuries will permanently impact the claimant’s ability to earn an income.
- The level of carelessness or recklessness exhibited by the at-fault party that led to the accident. In some personal injury claims where the at-fault party’s actions clearly and deliberately disregarded the safety of others, punitive damages can be sought. Punitive damages involve compensation ordered by a judge or jury not to cover the costs of the injury or its impacts but to financially punish the defendant for their recklessness. Each state has its own rules about punitive damages. For example, in Wisconsin, punitive damages cannot exceed $200,000 or double the compensatory damages, whichever is greater. In Minnesota, a separate proceeding awards these damages, subject to judicial review.
Communication with Allstate’s Claims Adjuster
One of the critical services your lawyer will provide for your Allstate injury claim is managing communication with the claims adjuster assigned to review your claim. This individual will either accept the claim, deny the claim (and notify you and your attorney of the reason for the denial), or offer a settlement. Having your attorney handle this communication protects your claim from the tactics that claim adjusters often employ to devalue claims.
Negotiating a Settlement
Most personal injury claims are resolved by settlement. The first offer made by the claims adjuster is often far below the claim’s value. Your attorney will negotiate with the claims adjuster to get them to increase their offer to a level that fairly compensates your claim.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Suppose the insurance provider fails to compensate the claim.
In that case, your attorney can file it in civil court as a personal injury lawsuit to have the opportunity to present your case to a judge or jury for them to determine two matters:
- Was Allstate’s insured at fault for the accident?
- How much compensation is owed to you due to the defendant’s fault?
There is a deadline to file your personal injury lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations. Each state’s lawmakers set this deadline, so it varies depending on where you live. In Minnesota, personal injury claimants generally have six years from the injury to file their claim, while claimants in Wisconsin typically have three years.
Ensuring that a lawsuit is filed by this deadline is one of the most critical aspects of your claim, as allowing the statute of limitations to expire will usually result in your loss of the right to use the court process when seeking compensation for your injuries. Without the consequence of a lawsuit, insurance companies will almost always refuse to compensate an expired claim.
It should be noted that settlement negotiations do not necessarily end when the lawsuit is filed. Filing a lawsuit is often the catalyst for more productive settlement negotiations, as the claims adjuster wants to avoid the trial time, expense, and uncertain outcomes.
Gathering Evidence and Witness Testimony
Your attorney will gather several types of evidence to help prove your claim.
Some of the evidence commonly used in car accident claims includes:
- The police report, which includes a narrative of how the officer believed the accident occurred, based on evidence from the scene and interviews with all parties involved and eyewitnesses. The report will also note whether any citations were issued to the at-fault party, which can be valuable evidence when proving negligence.
- Testimony from eyewitnesses who saw the accident occur. In some cases, experts can also be brought in to testify, such as accident reconstruction specialists or medical professionals.
- Video footage from traffic cameras or surveillance cameras from nearby businesses or residences.
- Medical documentation showing the severity of the injuries and the treatments that were provided.
- Other documents used to show the expenses or impacts of the injury.
Offering Experience and Guidance Throughout the Process
It is essential to understand that even if you hire an attorney to handle your Allstate injury accident claim, all of the decisions to make about the case are yours. Your attorney cannot decide whether an offered settlement is fair or whether you should file the claim in court. They can offer advice and guidance based on years of experience so that you understand the process and your claim that you need to make decisions that reflect your best interests.
Assisting You in Collecting Your Settlement or Award
When your Allstate claim is resolved by settlement or a court decision, your compensation will be sent directly to your attorney. Following the contingent fee agreement you entered into with them at the start of your claim, they will receive a percentage of your award as payment for their services. Additionally, your attorney will satisfy any medical liens placed on the award before turning the remainder of the proceeds over to you.
If a negligent driver with Allstate insurance has injured you, contact a personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation.