A demand letter is an important part of your personal injury case. A demand letter serves to inform the liable party – often an insurance company – of your injuries, evidence of liability, and a sum of your financial losses. The demand letter typically states the amount of compensation you are seeking in your personal injury claim.
A well written letter can speed up the settlement process, while a poorly written letter could actually hinder your case. For these reasons, a demand letter is usually written by your personal injury attorney. Once sent to the insurance company, the demand letter will start the negotiation process and illustrate the strength of your case.
How a Demand Letter is Written
Demand letters follow a specific structure in which your personal injury attorney will provide 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.
Demand Letter Calculations
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.
Calculating your damages and what compensation to seek for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages is a key reason to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. Their expertise is invaluable in the demand letter and negotiation process. 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.
The Importance of Maximum Medical Improvement
If you are still undergoing medical treatment and have not fully recovered yet, your personal injury 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.
How Long Does the Insurance Company Have to Respond to the Demand Letter?
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. Your attorney may advise a period of 30, 60 or 90 days for a response to the demand letter. 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. 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.
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 throughout New Jersey, New York State and New York City, 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.