If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by a negligent or reckless driver, the common assumption is that the driver’s insurance will pay for your injuries. However, large insurance companies like USAA have a number of tactics that they use to get out of paying out claims, including getting accident victims to settle quickly for a low amount. An attorney experienced with these tactics is necessary in order to avoid getting short-changed on the compensation you need to make a full recovery.
Founded in 1922, USAA provides insurance, banking, and investment services to active military members, retired military, and their family members. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, USAA has around 12 million members. It is a Fortune 500 company, but it is not a corporation. It is, instead, an inter-insurance exchange in which the membership owns USAA’s assets and insures each other. By agreement, the members of USAA limit member liability to premiums. USAA’s insurance services are provided by wholly owned subsidiaries, including the USAA-Casualty Insurance Company (USAA-CIC).
Newsworthy Legal Action Involving USAA
A 2016 article from the San Antonio Express-News reported that USAA has been the subject of a number of lawsuits over their “cost containment” scheme that delays, denies, or reduces payouts to customers who are injured in car accidents. One such class-action lawsuit, filed by two people in Montana, was expected to increase to at least 154 residents of that state.
In 2015, USAA settled a suit in Washington for $4.2 million. That suit was filed by three Washington state health care providers, along with a USAA member who was injured in an accident. The suit claimed that USAA failed to pay the full amount of medical bills that were submitted under personal injury protection policies. Similar suits were filed in Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
Typical Insurance Tactics to Improve Profits and Lower Settlements
Insurance companies are in business to make money. As such, they may use certain tactics to avoid paying claims when the individuals they insure are involved in accidents.
One common tactic is to encourage an accident victim to settle quickly for a small, lump sum. Part of that settlement will involve a full release from future damages. They may act like they are on the victim’s side, and state that the victim does not need to get a lawyer.
They will also frequently request a recorded statement which can later be used to reduce the amount of the claim. They may request authorization to obtain your medical records. They may hire their own investigators to watch you and even take photographs in order to disprove your claim. They may delay paying you just long enough that you are willing to accept a lesser settlement out of desperation.
The 3 “Ds” Deny, Delay, Defend
First, insurance companies deny an insurance claim in an effort to pay nothing at all.
Then, they delay the claim, by creating new tasks to be completed, forms to be filed, meeting to be had, etc. All hoping an injured victim will just back off.
Finally, they defend their denial in court. This not only is in the hopes that the judge or jury rules in their favor, but with the hopes that the cost of trying the case will become to high for the injured victim and their attorneys.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me Settle a Claim Dispute With USAA?
Considering the above-listed methods that are often used by insurance companies to avoid paying on claims, it is in your best interest to get an attorney in Chicago that is experienced in personal injury claims. An attorney can do the following things for you:
- Ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
- Determine an appropriate amount of compensation to cover both economic and non-economic damages.
- Follow all legal procedures to get you the full compensation you need to make a full recovery.
- Provide experienced negotiation on your behalf with USAA, which can increase the value of your claim by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
- Using the appeals process, if necessary, to fight a denial of the claim.
What I Can Do to Help My Case?
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, there are some things you can do to help your case, should you decide to file a legal claim:
- Keep photos and other evidence from the scene of the accident.
- Obtain a copy of the police report.
- Make a list of property damage and the estimated cost of repairs.
- Also make a list of medical-related expenses, including prescriptions and medical consultations.
- Make a list of the ways your injuries have impacted your life from a non-economic standpoint.
How We Can Help With Your USAA Claim?
The law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C. has spent years fighting on behalf of our clients to obtain fair compensation for their injuries. We are well aware of the tactics that insurance companies commonly employ to limit payments and have extensive experience in dealing with those tactics.
We are available to answer your questions at any time, 24 hours a day. We provide a free consultation and case review, and, if we choose to take your case, we will not charge you a fee until we obtain the compensation you need for your recovery and your future. Personal injury cases have a statute of limitations, so time is of the essence. Call us today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online.