Founded in 1922, the United States Automobile Association (USAA) offers insurance and financial services to current members of the military, military veterans, and their families. It receives the highest ratings in customer satisfaction and is generally a straightforward corporation.
But like any insurance company, it will protect its interests, the primary one being to remain profitable. When you are involved in an auto or bicycle accident, you cannot expect a USAA settlement amount to be any higher than with other insurance companies. Your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve are higher when you hire a Florida personal injury attorney. Here is how we deal with USAA to secure fair results for our clients.
How to Open and File A Claim With USAA
If you’re involved in a Florida Auto Accident with another driver who carries USAA or if you are a customer of USAA, then you will need to get in touch with USAA to open a claim. You can get in touch by calling their claims number or by logging into your USAA account online. If you are a member of USAA you’ll be able to log in and track the status of your claim online. Once a claim is opened, the insurance company adjuster will be assigned to investigate and handle your claim. The adjuster will then try to get in touch with you to get your side of the story. When facing your insurance adjuster it is important to comply with their requests for information and statements. In general, it is not advantageous to be speaking to the other driver’s insurance company. However, if USAA is the insurance company you’ll need to comply with their requests for information and statements. We highly recommend getting the help of a trusted attorney to handle communications with the insurance adjuster while you focus on recovering.
Like many companies, USAA has its own Case Evaluation Software and relies on the judgment of its own claims adjusters. Our experienced personal injury attorneys understand the common tactics that insurance adjusters will use to scrutinize your claim. We’ll make sure that you understand all the damages you are entitled to and what a fair amount is for each category of damages.
Generally, when you file a lawsuit against USAA, the company will increase the settlement offer. If you think the settlement offer isn’t fair, we are ready to work with you to carefully calculate a number that accounts for all your out-of-pocket costs. Even if the case might not make it all way to court, we still prepared to litigate on your behalf. Our attorneys can help you file a persuasive claim, guide you through the negotiations that follow and answer any questions you have along the way.
Why You Need a Skilled Negotiator
After you hire us to handle your accident, we start by informing USAA we represent you. This prevents the claims adjuster from contacting you directly. If they call or email you before receiving that notice or even after, tell them you are represented by counsel and give them our office number. You can compromise your interests significantly if you do not leave communication to us.
There are no settlement overtures until you have finished recovering. One tactic of insurance companies when facing unrepresented claimants is to force a settlement before you finish treatment. This keeps you from making a fully informed decision, as you may not know how the injury has affected you, or if there are any long term health consequences resulting from it.
As you recover, we are committed to information gathering. We will request and review medical records. Our staff orders any police reports, and we review those too. If there were tickets issued, we determine how that affects your case.
Once you finish healing, we start negotiating with the USAA insurance adjuster in an effort to settle for a reasonable amount. One way to do this is to issue a demand letter which explains the facts of the accident, your injuries, the treatment process, and any impacts this had on your quality of life. If you lost wages due to time away from work, that is addressed as well as any beloved activities you had to miss because of your injuries-also known as loss of enjoyment of life.
That starts a back-and-forth discussion about the value of your case. We may come to a reasonable agreement. If this does not happen, we will file a lawsuit and escalate the claim. Settlement negotiations never end, even on the eve of trial, so there is almost always a willingness to settle out-of-court.
Valuing your Claim
The value of your claim depends on a combination of economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages show items that can be objectively proven. Medical expenses, lost wages, expenses for services like house cleaning, and property damage are considered economic damages. Insurance companies are more willing to reimburse those because they are easy to prove with estimates and receipts.
The challenge in a personal injury claim is noneconomic damages. These are subjective and not readily proven. This includes the impact on your life due to injuries and any pain and suffering. If you were still able to go to work and enjoy your daily activities, you are less likely to receive a large amount for noneconomic damages then if you were bedridden for a month and missed a major bicycle race.
Generally, unless USAA believes your medical treatment was excessive, noneconomic damages will be the issue attracting the most disagreement. That is where legal representation becomes vital.
Our Results Against USAA
When you attempt to take on USAA on your own, you are unlikely to receive a fair offer. Claimants who do not have attorneys are perceived as not taking their claim seriously and satisfied with the smallest cash offer. Adjusters will not offer larger settlements because it is not necessary.
If you decide to proceed without counsel, you face immediate disadvantages. USAA has a strong legal team behind it that will pick your case apart. Even one interview where you answer “good” to a “How are you?” question can be construed against you. That is why it is advisable to hire an attorney to handle communications and settlement negotiations while you focus on healing.
Kaire & Heffernan, LLC has a proven record against USAA. Our cases include:
- Chang v. Cope & USAA. Plaintiff Michael Chang suffered a retinal detachment in a car accident. This was due to a previous medical condition and USAA fought the claim stating that the detachment had nothing to do with the accident. Our legal team hired experts, reviewed the case thoroughly and was able convince USAA to settle the matter for $540,000.00 without going to trial.
- Doe v. USAA.We are unable to reveal the identity of our client, but we can explain that this was a bicycle accident. The driver turned directly in front of the Plaintiff and fled the scene after hitting him. Client injured his shoulder and filed a claim against his uninsured motorist policy with USAA. We settled this case for policy limits of $100,000.
We cannot guarantee results like this for you but they show the advantage you gain by hiring an experienced attorney. USAA is willing to settle when they realize the potential downside of trial. It takes the involvement of experienced lawyers for them to see it that way.
If you want to receive a fair USAA settlement after your auto or bicycle accident, contact Kaire & Heffernan, LLC and schedule a free consultation.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.