Dear USAA: An Open Letter

Dear USAA:

You have some of the best, most sophisticated adjusters of any car insurance company out there. Generally speaking, you make more reasonable settlement offers than the other companies with big car insurance market share in Maryland (better than GEICO, State Farm or Allstate). Sure, you force us to try some cases against you to pay our clients a fair settlement value. And, yes, you would probably shoot your own parents in the head to save a buck. But, really, in the insurance company world of relativity, you are not that bad.

Now that I have finished the flattery, could you do me one small favor? Teach your insurance adjusters in personal injury cases that there is something called the collateral source rule in Maryland. You simply cannot deny a lost wage claim because you “suspect the client was being paid anyway.”

At first, I thought it was just one bodily injury adjuster at USAA who did not understand Maryland law. But I’m now convinced that less than half of USAA adjusters understand this rule.

Even more maddening, when the adjuster is called out on this obvious point of law that Maryland has had for – count them – 112 years, that the claimant is paid for time missed from work regardless of whether they used vacation time or their employer paid them out of the goodness of their heart, USAA adjusters simply refuse to admit or deny the existence of the collateral source rule.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.

Ron Miller

In the micro, getting paid for lost wages when your employer continues to pay them seems counterintuitive. But there are lots of reasons the collateral source rule has stood the test of time in Maryland and in other jurisdictions. The insurance company should not get a benefit because you used your vacation time or your employer chose to pay you, anyway. Maryland law has long understood that it would be patently unfair to permit a tortfeasor to escape liability because the injured plaintiff was fortunate enough to get financial help from a third party.letter to usaa

You know full well if USAA is pulling this with experienced counsel; it is probably not explaining the nuances of the collateral source rule to car crash victims who do not have a lawyer.

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