How to Write a Settlement Demand Letter
If you sustain severe or catastrophic injuries in an accident, you might consider writing a settlement demand letter. Personal injuries cause considerable damages, including financial and non-economic damages. When the injury was caused by the wrongdoing or negligence of another party, the victim is entitled to compensation for those damages.
A settlement demand letter is your offer to settle the personal injury claim. It signals to the other party that you are ready to begin settlement negotiations. Your “legal demand” sets forth your damages and the basis for holding the other party liable for those damages.
If the responsible party has insurance to cover the incident, send the demand letter to the insurance company. However, before you rush to put your settlement demand in writing, there are several steps that you need to take first.
Steps to Take Before Writing a Settlement Demand Letter
Before you compose and send your settlement demand to the insurance company, essential steps to take include:
- Complete medical treatment so that you understand the extent of your injuries and damages
- Review medical records and gather evidence of all medical expenses and costs
- Gather evidence of all financial losses, including lost income, travel expenses, etc.
- Review the facts of the case to determine how the other party caused the incident which resulted in your injuries
- Review the insurance contract and highlight the sections that provide coverage for the incident that caused your injuries
- Determine a value for your pain and suffering (non-economic) damages
If you run into issues or questions that you cannot answer, call a personal injury lawyer immediately. Once you accept a settlement and sign a settlement agreement, your claim ends. The agreement is legally binding and prevents you from seeking more money for your injury claim.
What Should I Include in a Settlement Demand Letter?
A settlement demand letter contains information, facts, and documentation related to your personal injury claim.
A demand letter generally includes:
- A summary of the facts of the case
- A detailed explanation of the other party’s negligence or wrongdoing that led to your injuries
- The specific legal theories and laws that hold the party liable for your damages
- An explanation of your injuries, including the extent of any impairments or disabilities caused by the injuries
- A statement from your medical provider with your current condition and prognosis
- A detailed accounting of the cost of medical treatment, including specific dollar amounts for each provider or treatment
- A detailed accounting of lost wages, including loss of benefits and other forms of compensation
- A detailed account of other financial losses, including exact dollar amounts for travel expenses, childcare, help with household chores, personal care, etc.
- Description of your non-economic damages, including physical pain, scarring, disability, emotional distress, and mental anguish and the value of your non-economic damages
- Documentation to support your claim, including medical records, accident reports, photographs of injuries, bills, receipts, etc.
- The total amount of compensation you believe you are entitled to receive as settlement for your personal injury claim
The insurance company reviews your settlement demand. It may pay the claim, deny the claim, or make a counteroffer. In many cases, the insurance company makes a counteroffer.
Be sure to calculate an amount that you are willing to accept to settle the claim before sending the letter to the insurance provider. Ask for an amount that is slightly higher so that you have room to negotiate. Knowing what you are willing to accept before you send the demand letter allows you to quickly and confidently respond to a counteroffer for settlement.
Do Not Hesitate to Contact a Lawyer for Help
The insurance company could take advantage of your lack of legal knowledge to undervalue your injury claim. Some companies engage in bad faith insurance practices to cheat victims out of the money they deserve.
The insurance company may drag out your case in hopes that you give up and agree to a low settlement offer. Do not allow the company to delay. Your time to file a personal injury lawsuit is limited.
In most cases, you have just two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, the deadline could be shorter. If your case involves a government entity, contact a lawyer immediately to avoid losing your right to file a lawsuit.
Personal injury claims can be complicated. Insurance companies have unlimited resources. They have skilled professionals working to protect their best interests.
It can be challenging to win against these odds, especially if you are struggling to recover from accident injuries. Even the odds by contacting a personal injury attorney.