Insurance companies are not known as the nice guys, and for good reason. In a personal injury suit, most insurance companies will try to settle for far less than you deserve and create doubt as to whether you are even entitled to a settlement. A demand letter is necessary to help establish the legitimacy of your claim and negotiate. Your attorney can help you draft a demand letter that will receive results. However, if you are interested in the general basics of what a demand letter is composed of, read on.
The purposes of a demand letter are to establish:
- Why the other party is legally responsible for your injury or suffering
- What your injuries were and how much you lost by treating them
- Any other damages incurred as a result of the accident
The demand letter will also ask for a final lump sum that should cover all expenses relating to treatment of the accident and future costs. The information in a demand letter must be consistent with any injury reports, or the insurance company can deny your credibility and offer much less than is asked for. They will attempt to negotiate and give a counteroffer. The demand letter is just the first step in a series of back-and-forth negotiations via phone calls, letters, and meetings that will finally create a settlement amount.
When writing a demand letter, you want to sound as strong as possible in your argument. Any holes or possible reasons why you may be at fault should be avoided. Your argument is the only one that matters at this point. If the insurance adjustors find any discrepancies or have a counterpoint to your claim, it can be addressed in negotiations. Have your attorney help you draft the letter so you come across as clear, concise, and prepared. You do not want to leave any room for the insurance company to take advantage of you.
If you are dealing with multiple insurance companies, for example a primary coverage and secondary, only the primary company should receive the demand letter. You will only end up negotiating with one insurance company.
If you are part of a group of people injured in the same incident, you may need to combine settlement letters. If the other individuals are family members, you will include their injuries, suffering, and claim amount in separate paragraphs. However, if the two individuals are unrelated then separate claims are needed, as the insurance company will treat the injuries differently. It is advisable, however, to work together to create a stronger base of evidence and gather records. You can also consult on how much you are demanding and your reasons for such compensation.
When you begin drafting your letter, give your attorney all relevant documents and evidence relating to the incident. If you have photos or other supporting documents these can be attached to the letter as well. Just make sure you retain the original copy in your records. For example, proof of medical bills is usually required for settlement. Always write a settlement sum that is about 75 to 100% higher than what you would be happy with so you have room to negotiate.
While you can write the injury letter alone, also get your letter proofread by an attorney who might ask you to change things to clean up your argument. They also might be able to suggest different areas you did not ask for compensation in that can increase your demand sum. Call us if you have questions as we are happy to assist in the creation of professional, tailored personal injury demand letters.