How long does it take USAA to settle a claim? Can I negotiate?
While many people attempt to handle their own car accident injury claim without a lawyer, it’s important that you understand how the process works (as well as the risks involved). One mistake could jeopardize your entire claim.
Founded in 1922, the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is an auto insurance company which primarily serves US military members and their families. While the company is generally rated favorably by their own customers, understand that like any business, they exist to make as much money as possible.
While your goal is to be fairly compensated for the damages you’ve suffered, know that their goal is to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all. No matter how friendly USAA employees may seem on the phone, you cannot afford to let them take advantage of you.
Negotiating an out-of-court settlement with USAA.
If you were not injured in the car crash and your claim only seeks reimbursement for property damage, the claims process is relatively straight-forward without much room for negotiation. Conversely, if you did suffer an injury—no matter how minor—you can fully expect USAA to everything in their power to limit the potential value of said injury claim (which will be handled separately from your property damage claim).
To be frank here, attempting to negotiate a personal injury settlement with USAA is never a good idea unless you have leverage. USAA will never offer an unrepresented claimant anything close to a fair settlement because they simply don’t have to. There’s no law stating that they have to pay you anything at all. Only a judge can legally compel an insurance company to pay on a claim, and settlements are only offered to avoid you taking them to court and potentially winning more.
Often out of frustration or desperation, many people in your situation fall into the trap of attempting to negotiate a settlement with their claims adjuster in hopes of a quick resolution. Unless you have an attorney (especially one who’s beaten USAA in court before), you really have no leverage when attempting to negotiate a fair settlement. USAA has a team of lawyers and staff who operate out of the largest single-occupancy office building in the world (larger than the Pentagon). Without someone looking out for your best interests, the deck is completely stacked against you.
USAA will also take notes and/or record the conversations you have with them for the sole purpose of using your words against you. Something as simple as replying “good” when they ask “how are you doing today” can be used to downplay your injuries. A simple misstatement can be used to apportion part of the blame of the accident to you. Countering their settlement offer with your own can prevent you from seeking further compensation should any unexpected expenses later arise (e.g., surgery, lost wages, chronic pain, etc).
Most people have never gone through the process of bringing a personal injury claim in conjunction with a car accident. USAA, on the other hand, defends these types of claims on a daily basis. They know every single trick in the book, but so do our attorneys. At Rasansky Law Firm, our job is to help people in your exact situation. We look out for your best interests and make sure that you get every dollar you’re entitled to, and we never charge you a single penny out of pocket to do so.
Determining the true value of your claim.
The value of your claim is based on several factors, but without knowing the details of your particular case, it’s impossible to place a dollar amount on your actual damages (losses). That being said, the single most-important factor will likely be the cost and scope of your medical treatment. Under no circumstances should you even begin thinking about settling your claim until you have fully recovered from your injuries and finished treatment.
Another factor in determining the value of your related losses would be any wages you lost due to missing work on account of the injury. If you became disabled as a result of your accident or are unable to return to work in your field, your claim will also seek compensation for the wages you would have been able to earn in the future, had you not been injured (diminished earning capacity). Additionally, there are several types of non-economic damages which may also increase the value of your claim, including: pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of consortium, etc.
Should I talk to an attorney?
Even if you’re not ready to hire an attorney or wish to handle the case on your own, there’s no harm in seeking out an expert legal opinion from someone who’s looking out for your best interests. Almost all personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, and you’re under no obligation to make a decision until you’re ready. Call us at 1-877-405-4313 to discuss the facts of your case today.
Speak With a Auto Accident Lawyer About Your Case For Free
The attorneys at Rasansky Law Firm are happy to speak with you about your potential case free of charge. If we can help with your claim, we’ll do so for no out-of-pocket cost to you. Call us 24/7 at (214) 651-6100, or toll-free at 1-877-405-4313.