A demand letter is a critical part of your claim after an injury accident. Whether or not you eventually choose to file a lawsuit, a demand letter typically starts the process with an insurance company or other party to formally state your injuries, evidence of liability, and demand for monetary compensation. A well-crafted demand letter will kick off the negotiation process and illustrate the strength of your case. In this blog post, we’ll review 5 key factors about demand letters in personal injury cases.
#1: Demand letters precede a formal lawsuit.
Most often, demand letters kick off the settlement process. The insurance company or at-fault party has a certain amount of time to respond to the letter with acceptance, their own settlement offer, or a refusal. When the settlement negotiations break down or fail to begin, a formal personal injury lawsuit can be filed by your attorney. Keep in mind, most personal injury claims end in settlement even when a lawsuit is filed.
#2: Demand letters are formal, structured documents.
Demand letters follow a specific structure in which your attorney will first explain who you are, the details of the accident including the reasons and evidence you have to show that the at-fault party is liable for your injuries. The demand letter also includes a detailed, itemized listing of your losses and a total amount of monetary compensation you are seeking. The conclusion of the demand letter lets the insurance company know the timeframe in which they have to respond as well as what your next steps will be if your demands are not met.
#3: Demand letters seek specific monetary compensation amounts.
As part of the demand letter, your attorney will list each specific loss and provide documentation of the damage. This list can include property damage, medical expenses, loss of income and other tangible damages. Additionally, your attorney may recommend that you seek non-economic damages for losses like pain and suffering. The reasoning behind what damages you are seeking and how the at-fault party’s actions caused your losses will be a key element of the letter.
#4: You should wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement before sending a demand letter.
If you are still undergoing medical treatment and have not fully recovered yet, your attorney will advise you to wait until you’ve reached your maximum medical improvement to send the demand letter. This is because the full extent of your losses won’t be known until your treatment is complete so you won’t have an accurate amount to demand from the at-fault party. In personal injury claims, especially those with severe injuries, it may be possible to seek and receive compensation for your expected future losses. In those cases, your attorney may enlist the help of expert witnesses who can provide testimony and evidence as to what your expected medical needs will be, the amount of money you will lose because of an inability to go back to work and your loss of the quality of enjoyment of your life.
#5: Insurance companies may delay their response to the demand letter.
As previously stated, after an insurance company receives your demand letter, the negotiation process begins. However, it's not uncommon for an insurance company to use a delayed response as a tactic to get injured victims to settle quickly. Insurance adjusters know that injured victims may be desperate for financial relief or just want the process to be over and will hope that you accept their first counter-offer. Perseverance is one of the most important factors to maximizing your settlement.
Brandon J. Broderick is Here for You 24/7
If the insurance company is ignoring your demand letter, devaluing your claim or denying it all together, our skilled personal injury lawyers can help. We pursue the maximum amount of compensation for your clients and won’t hesitate to file a lawsuit and even take your claim to court, if necessary.
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in exceptional client care, empathy, and results. That’s what makes us one of the top-rated personal injury law firms in the area. With offices in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Florida, we’ve got you covered. If you need help getting full and fair compensation for your injuries after an accident, contact us today for a free consultation.