Let’s discuss USAA Auto Accident Claims and payouts.
We will discuss settlements and verdicts for people injured in car accidents who go against USAA insured.
We will talk about both bodily injury insurance claims and uninsured motorist claims against USAA.
How Long Does It Take to Get A Settlement Check From USAA?
A car accident settlement claim with USAA can take only a few weeks or as long as a couple of years to finalize. Generally, USAA claims are paid quicker than claims against other insurance companies.
Let’s look at how it works.:
When a client is not hurt very badly (or at all), the case will usually settle quickly. The client got better! So the damages and thus the value of the case for the client will be smaller. We can work these out quickly, usually in a couple of months or less.
When a client is really hurt but USAA’s policy limits are small, the case will usually settle quickly. We will gather up medical records very quickly and send the demand. If USAA is smart, it will pay our demand.
When liability is clear (like in a rear-end auto accident claim) the case will tend to settle quicker.
When liability is in question (like when car drivers dispute who caused a wreck), the case will usually take longer to settle.
When a client has permanent injuries and USAA’s policy limits are high, the case will often take longer to settle. There is more room to negotiate. At the same time, the client might continue to need more and more medical treatment which can continue to increase the value of the case.
In our experience cases that do not need to go to a formal lawsuit resolved in 3 to 9 months on average with USAA. Cases that need to go to a lawsuit resolve on average in 6 to 18 months with USAA.
Does USAA Pay Pain and Suffering?
USAA does not want to pay an injured person for Pain and Suffering. But a good car accident attorney will force them to pay for Pain and Suffering for the right cases.
Pain and Suffering is the short term for a category of damages we call non-economic damages.
Economic damages are easy to understand. Lost wages and medical bills are the two most often seen in car accident claims with USAA.
Non-economic damages refer to human losses. Putting a quantifiable number to account what was taken from a person. Non-economic damages include pain, suffering, disability, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, or loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life.
See below to see what a Judge read to a Jury about damages in a recent car accident case we tried.
You must prove permanent injury from your case accident if you want USAA to pay your pain and suffering. And for good reason: Florida law requires a doctor to say its more likely than not you have a permanent injury to claim pain and suffering.
If you have a strain or sprain to your spine you can expect your doctor to order MRIs. Objective testing like MRI’s can help a doctor diagnose the permanent injury. A doctor’s report can then prove your permanent injury. We make sure to provide written opinions of permanent injury to USAA’s adjusters with the demand letter at the beginning of settlement talks to prove that pain and suffering payment from USAA is appropriate.
Should I Expect a Fair Settlement Offer From USAA?
USAA is actually relatively reasonable in early settlement discussions compared to its competitors like Allstate and State Farm. USAA will also often request informal settlement conferences early in a lawsuit and try to get claims resolved before we get close to trial.
But USAA’s offers are always less than full value. Sometimes many times less.
It’s not surprising. USAA is in the business of making money. The less money USAA pays in claims, the more money USAA keeps.
And USAA knows that many of the big injury law firms don’t make the effort to get maximum dollars for their client’s claims. So, USAA knows that lower offers at the beginning of the case lead to more profits at the end of the year.
The reality is that we make the settlement offers on behalf of you. We know the true value of your case. So we make the demands. We keep making demands until USAA accepts what we have to offer.
How Do I Get Full Settlement Value From USAA?
USAA needs to understand that things could go very badly for them if they do not pay fair value for a car accident insurance claim. To understand USAA’s risk, you need to understand Florida’s Bad Faith Laws.
USAA is the insurance company to make money, of course. The less money USAA pays for a claim, the more money it makes for its executives.
But USAA has a responsibility to protect its policyholders as well as its investors. After all, policyholders pay insurance premiums month after month, year after year precisely so that if a car wreck happens, USAA will pay claims.
But USAA often puts its own financial well being ahead of its insured. USAA will literally leave its insureds out to dry. In doing so, USAA has acted in bad faith towards its own insured. And in many cases, that can open the door for our clients to get paid more than the policy limits from the insurance company. Let me know to show you an example where my client received $35,000.00. injury settlement from USAA on a $10,000.00 policy, or 3.5X the policy limits.
Bad Faith Example (2020)
Tim was rear-ended by an individual insured with USAA. The individual was a good person, he just made an honest mistake. Unfortunately, the honest mistake left my client Tim hurting.
Over the course of a few months, Tim went to chiropractors for help with his lower back. When the chiropractors could not fix Tim, he visited with a surgeon who recommended injections in his lower back. Tim needed pain relief. It was affecting his ability to do his job. So Tim got the injections.
I gathered up Tim’s medical bills. I gathered his accident report, property damage estimate, and pictures from his vehicle. I wrote a demand letter that told USAA Tim’s story. The bad driver insured by USAA had $10,000.00 in insurance coverage. I demanded USAA pay the $10,000.00. In exchange, I made it clear that if USAA paid the full policy limits we would walk away and not sue the bad driver. We would not take him to court, take his deposition. We would not ask for any additional money from the bad driver.
I also sent the demand to the person who caused the accident.
What did USAA do?
They counter-offered was less than the $10,000.00 policy limits.
So think about it…
I gave USAA the opportunity to do the right thing by their insured and pay the limits. And USAA refused.
Now, USAA’s insured will get sued. He will have to go to Court. He will get his deposition taken by me.
And I will go to a Jury and ask the Jury for a verdict that is 2-5X what the original policy limit was. (And if Tim is still in pain when we go to Court and still needs to see Doctors, I’ll justly ask for more).
Now, it would not be fair that the negligent driver has all this risk because his insured company sold him up the river. NOW, the bad driver has a bad faith claim against his insurance company.
And from our perspective, we consider the policy “open”.
We filed a lawsuit.
Now, we consider the policy open. We are no longer settling for the policy limits. We are settling for a fair amount given our clients’ unique situation.
So, we then figure out what we believe a fair and just resolution is in this case. In this case, $35,000 represented a just amount.
So I re-demanded $35,000.00.
USAA has two choices: It can pay my new demand or it can risk us going to trial. At trial, I will ask the Jury for more than my newest demand.
In this case, I told USAA I would ask for $100,000.00 at trial.
I made sure to put these demands in writing, demanding that USAA share all correspondence with its insured.
And USAA paid our updated demand
So, how do we get full settlement value from USAA?
We hold USAA’s feet to the fire. We give them an opportunity to do the right thing. If they don’t, we file a lawsuit and make it even worse for them.
$150000 Settlement From USAA (Shoulder Surgery)
This is a case we settled in 2019 with USAA.
Our client was traveling Northbound in his White F250 on US 27 in Sebring, Florida when a wrong-way driver struck another vehicle in front of my client. That vehicle then lost control and struck my client.
The police report notated that my client was not injured in the crash. The police diagrammed the crash below.
Unfortunately, it became clear to my client in the days that followed that something was wrong with his shoulder. He was unable to pick up heavy objects. An avid hunter, he could not draw back his bow. Concerned he called us.
We immediately sent him to an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in should injuries. That orthopedic doctor sent our client out for a Shoulder MRI. The results showed a moderately sized slap tear in his left shoulder.
His orthopedic surgeon decides to operate to fix the tear.
We sent a demand to USAA to pay policy limits for our client’s injury. USAA took the position that our client’s shoulder injury could have been caused by a fishing accident. USAA offered $50,000.00 to resolve the claim.
We filed suit. After depositions, mediation, and other discovery, we set the case for trial. Short of trial, USAA agreed to pay $150,000.00 or three times USAA’s best offer before we filed a lawsuit.
$175,000 Settlement From USAA (Multiple Disc Bulges)
This is a case where our client was t-boned in his older model Mercedes while in Pinellas County, Florida.
His car was deemed a total loss. We immediately pulled the property damage report which showed structural damage to the vehicle.
Our client had neck and lower back pain after the collision. He first tried physical therapy and massage. Eventually, he had injections in his spine to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
We hired an expert radiologist to read his MRI findings and to testify if needed at trial. His expert radiologist determined that our cline that disc bulges in his C5-6 and C6-7 discs in his neck.
We demanded the entire policy from USAA. USAA returned volley with a $10,000.00. counter offer.
Now, our client had made it very clear that he was suffering in pain. While the bulging looked modest, it was hitting a nerve and interrupting our client’s sleep and ability to go about his day. $10,000.00 was simply not even close.
So we filed a lawsuit.
In this case, we had to litigation for quite some time. However, ultimately USAA settled the lawsuit for $175,000.00.
That means we settled the case for 17.5X USAA’s original settlement offer.
USAA pays $450,000 for lower back surgery for client
This is a case we co-counseled with another firm in our area. Sometimes, we will bring in another lawyer with a specific specialty to help us with a case. This was one of those cases.
A bad driver crashed into our client’s car. The bad driver initially disputed liability. Luckily for us, our client was a retired helicopter pilot who took nothing to chance. He had videotapes installed in the rear and front of his vehicle. His videotape clearly showed our client was not at fault
Our client had uninsured motorist coverage (UM) with USAA. We demanded the policy limits. USAA counter-offered with $5,000.00.
We filed suit.
During the suit, our client found out the accident had worsened a spine condition he had. He needed surgery. The surgery was a success.
The case was set for trial. We were able to get a really fast trial date because our client was over 65 years old.
USAA did not want to try this case. The jury would have loved our client! USAA ultimately settled the case for $450,000.00.
$40,000 for Mother who had two children with her at the time of Collision
This case had minor property damage. Our client was hit from behind in St. Petersburg, Florida. She had two of her children in the car with her.
The client went to the hospital. Everything checked out. The next day, she had soreness in her neck and back. She went to a chiropractor in Pinellas County.
The client treated with the chiropractor for months to help reduce inflammation in her spine. MRI’s show no damage to her neck, but she did have bulging discs in her back.
Her oldest child, a high school student, also treated with the chiropractor for whiplash.
USAA’s first offer in pres-suit was $8,000.00. We filed a lawsuit.
My client presented very well during her deposition. During a break, we were able to negotiate a fair resolution, and we resolved the case for $40,000.00.
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