Don't Buy That "Good Neighbor" Baloney

I spend almost all of my time at work representing people injured in car accidents and construction accidents. Consequently, I have experience suing State Farm Insurance and dealing with their defense attorneys. Those commercials you see on TV about State Farm being a good neighbor are far from the truth. State Farm has a long history of engaging in unethical conduct in denying claims it otherwise has a legal obligation to pay. They are so notorious at doing so, that years ago they were sued for wrongfully refusing to pay legitimate claims, and the case resulted in a $145 million dollar punitive damage award against State Farm (later reduced on appeal to $25 million). State Farm instructed their lawyers, in writing, to make meritless legal arguments in court, make frivolous motions and objections, and instructed them to delay cases as long as possible to "wear the other side out".

So shouldn't their insured be happy that State Farm is fighting so hard (albeit unethically) on their behalf? The answer is "no" they shouldn't be happy, they should be angry, and here is why: when an insurance company refuses to resolve a valid claim against its' insured, it puts the insured at risk of the case going to trial where the injured person could have a jury award much more money than the available insurance. This could cause the insured to go bankrupt and lose everything he/she has.

An example- Dan Defendant, insured by State Farm with $1,000,000 in coverage, causes a car wreck and badly injures Paul Plaintiff. Paula smartly hires us to represent her, and after suing Dan and working the case up, we believe it is worth between $900,000 and $1,100,000. We offer to settle for the available insurance ($1M), but State Farm offers $25,000. Grrrr. We take it to trial and get Paula a jury award of $1,200,000. State Farm coughs up the $1M and we go after Dan for the remaining $200,000 and he is NOT happy about it. "Good neighbor" my eye…….