USAA Arbitration Process
What's In This Article
If you were injured in a car accident, you may think that the auto insurance will automatically pay for all your medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. But often times car accident settlements do not go as planned. If you have USAA insurance and have difficulty reaching a fair settlement, car accident arbitration may be your best legal option. This article will explore the USAA arbitration process.
Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Arbitration allows parties on each side of a claim to select a third party to listen to each’s arguments and decide.
Car accident settlement negotiations can sometimes end in arbitration hearing if settlement negotiations break down. Perhaps USAA thinks you shared part of the blame for the accident, something else caused your injuries, or the ongoing treatment may not be as lengthy or expensive. Whatever the reason, the USAA arbitration process is there to help you settle your auto accident claim without going through the expense and hassle of litigation.
Below is detailed information about the USAA arbitration process.
USAA Arbitration Clause
An auto insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. Nearly all insurance companies require arbitration in their contracts as a means to handle disputes if settlement negotiations break down. Arbitration is favored by companies because it’s usually much faster and more affordable than going to court.
Can you still go to court if you disagree with the arbitration decision? Maybe. There are two types of arbitration:
- Binding: Whatever the arbitrators’ decision, it is binding and there is no appeal. This is the most common type of arbitration within auto insurance companies.
- Non-binding: The arbitrator’s ruling may be accepted or rejected by either side. You can still file a lawsuit.
USAA, like most insurance companies, has binding arbitration in its car insurance policy contract. You need to go to arbitration if you file a USAA claim and settlement talks fail.
Note that you cannot sue your auto insurance company if there is a binding arbitration clause in your contract. You either walk away empty-handed or go to arbitration.
But do not be surprised if your claims adjuster tries to avoid arbitration. If you mention you are tired of settlement talks going nowhere and you want to arbitrate, the adjuster might raise their settlement amount.
Going to arbitration suggests the claims adjuster did not do their job. Arbitration costs USAA more money, so you can use the threat of arbitration as leverage to get a better settlement.
USAA Arbitration Process for Third-Party Claims
If you file a USAA auto crash claim on the other driver’s policy, that is a third-party claim. His insurance company cannot require you to go to arbitration. Only your own insurance company can do that. When settlement talks break down with a third party insurance company, you and your attorney usually file a lawsuit.
Why Opt For The USAA Arbitration Process?
Arbitration has advantages.
- Arbitration costs less than a personal injury lawsuit. Your legal fees will be less with arbitration than if you file suit. An attorney is not even required in the arbitration hearing.
- Arbitration has no monetary limits, as you will find in small claims court.
- You may be compensated for your pain and suffering in arbitration.
- Also, the court can schedule arbitration faster than a court trial. Your case could end more quickly, which is essential if you need money for your medical expenses and lost wages.
- You can have a say in who the arbitrator is. In a trial, you have no say over the judge, and little say about the jury.
- Evidence rules in arbitration are more relaxed than in a court trial.
- If you obtain compensation, you may receive it faster than after a lawsuit.
- Having an attorney is often recommended in an arbitration hearing. But it is not necessary. An arbitration hearing is not as complicated as a court case, so some claimants choose to go without an attorney.
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Is a Lawyer Necessary for the USAA Arbitration Process
If you have a lawyer, he can accompany you to the hearing. If you have serious injuries requiring months of recovery, having an attorney is probably smart.
But for minor injuries, you may not need your lawyer. An attorney will represent USAA, but attorneys have fewer advantages in arbitration proceedings. If you know your case and evidence, you are on a similar footing as the USAA attorney. The arbitrator will strive to be fair to a non-attorney in the hearing.
The arbitration hearing is non-formal and generally goes like this:
You give your opening statement, saying who you are, and offer a description of your accident claim. Also, state what you want to get out of the hearing.
Next, you provide a case presentation. Show your evidence to the arbitrator and make your most robust case. Document your damages and injuries. If fault is in dispute, you need to prove they caused the crash.
Finally, you give your closing statement. Summarize the strengths of your case, your damages, and injuries. Provide a formidable figure you think you deserve for compensation.
The arbitration decision will come down in one or two weeks. There is no appeal.
Even if you decide to go without an attorney, it is smart to have your arbitration case reviewed by a personal injury attorney just in case.
USAA Auto Accident Settlements Tend to Be Above Average
Many attorneys say USAA is above average in paying out claims, compared to other insurance companies. One attorney reports that his average personal injury settlement with USAA over three years was $41,600. In his entire legal career, the average USAA settlement was $64,000.
Why are settlements with USAA often higher than for other insurance companies? USAA usually has more extensive bodily injury liability coverage. For instance, many USAA settlements have a BIL policy that is not under $25,000.
Also, USAA just has a better reputation for paying on personal injuries in auto insurance claims.
Get Legal Help With the USAA Arbitration Process
If you plan to go into USAA arbitration, hiring a skilled attorney with you could improve your chances of getting fair compensation. Lawsuit Info Center can help you find an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. Use our site to find a licensed attorney near you today.
Ideally, you and your attorney will reach a fair settlement with the insurance company. But if this fails, threatening to go to arbitration can encourage the insurance company to up their settlement offer. Arbitration is more expensive than a settlement for the insurance company.
Once your arbitrator has seen all of your evidence and arguments, the hearing is over. The arbitrator should render a decision in one or two weeks.
Most auto insurance policies allow you to resolve a claim through arbitration, which is an out-of-court process. It is less formal than a trial. You and the insurance company offer evidence to an arbitrator about your claim. The decision is usually binding and there is no appeal. Arbitration is usually your last chance at compensation if settlement negotiations falter.
After you sign the release, it can take up to six weeks to receive your check. Some cases take up to two years to settle, depending on the accident and the injuries’ nature.
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