Writing Demand Letters To Settle Personal Injury Claims
If you've been injured in a car accident caused by another person's carelessness, you may have to hire a personal injury lawyer to draft a demand letter to that person's insurance company before you receive compensation for your injuries. A demand letter gives you the opportunity to:
- Explain your personal injury case,
- Describe your injuries, medical bills, and other damages, and
- Request a dollar amount to settle the claim without further litigation.
Below are the basic elements that should be in any demand letter you or your attorney create.
The Importance of Hiring a Lawyer
When you've suffered personal injuries due to another person's negligence, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. An attorney will guide you through the settlement process. They also have the experience to draft a persuasive demand letter, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you in court. They can accurately estimate the value of your claim and will prevent you from settling for less than you deserve.
Your Side of the Story
Write a brief account of the auto accident and refer to any notes you have, police reports, relevant laws, or any other records. Keep it simple and stick to the facts. Avoid the temptation to use inflammatory language or inject your emotions into the description. For example, do not discuss how you really feel about the other driver's abilities.
Why the Other Party Was At Fault
Explain why the accident was the other party's fault. Again, keep your explanation respectful, factual, and short. However, don't hold back here.
If the other party rammed into you while you came to a full stop at a stop sign, make it clear that you were abiding by traffic laws, and the other party obviously couldn't have been when they ran into you. For example (if applicable), you'll want to address and explain how the other driver failed to follow laws regarding distances between cars.
You can also include any witness statements in your demand letter. For example, if you were in a truck accident and a witness gave comments to a police officer at the scene of the accident describing why the other driver was at fault, you can include the witness's name, phone number, and other contact information in the demand letter.
Don't Admit Your Own Fault
Do not admit to any wrongdoing in your personal injury demand letter. It's the insurance company's job to discover that information on its own and raise that point in its counteroffer.
This letter advocates for your position in your insurance claim. So, set forth the facts as truthfully but favorably as you can. If the insurance company wants to engage in settlement negotiations and brings up the issue of your own fault, you can respond to any potential questions at that time.
Involvement of Multiple Parties
If more than one party was involved in the accident, you should clearly identify each person or entity. After that, explain each person's role in causing the accident.
Describe Your Injuries
Describe your injuries in great detail. Especially concentrate on any long-lasting or permanent injuries, as those deserve more compensation than short-term injuries. Don't lie and don't exaggerate. However, if you have chronic pain, you should not be shy about making that clear. If possible, be as specific as you can about the particular injury and use appropriate medical terms as well.
Include Your Medical Expenses
Include a complete list of your medical expenses, which means detailed accounting of where you have received medical treatment. This can include the emergency room, who treated you, and any out-of-pocket expenses for that medical care. The other party's insurance company may request that you get an independent medical examination.
Your Lost Income
If you missed any time at work or your work suffered as a result of the injury, detail any such lost time. Get a letter from your employer confirming the lost time and your pay level.
Any Other Losses or Expenses
Include in your personal injury claim any other losses or expenses that have resulted from the accident. This can include non-economic damages such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and anxiety.
You can also include property damage in your demand letter.
Your Settlement Demand
Calculate the amount of money that would compensate you given what you have claimed, and then increase it considerably to give you room to negotiate with the insurance adjuster. Increase it up to twice as much as your calculation.
For settlement purposes, every demand letter you or your attorney writes should always include any supporting documentation verifying your claims. Examples of these are medical records, bills, and police reports.
Get an Attorney's Help With Writing a Demand Letter and More
Writing a demand letter can be tricky. Before sending it out, be sure you understand the basics of injury and accident law. It's a good idea to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your injuries and possible legal action beyond the demand letter.
Remember, there is a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. This means you have a limited time to seek a personal injury settlement. Seek legal advice as soon as possible to have the best chance at recovering what you're entitled to under personal injury law.
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