When a personal injury law firm represents you, they follow established protocols to assert and protect your legal rights. They investigate your accident, assess the legal issues, identify the negligent parties, and place them on notice of your pending claims. When you’re ready to settle your case, your lawyer sends a personal injury demand letter. What is a personal injury demand Letter? As the name suggests, it’s a document that explains your accident and requests compensation for your injuries.
Information Your Attorney Includes in a Demand Letter
A demand letter is your attorney’s formal presentation of your case. It explains and analyzes your injury claim to the responsible parties and their insurers. It begins by summarizing the accident and ends with a demand for damages. A demand letter usually includes:
- Your name, and if you’re married, your spouse’s name
- A description of your accident, including date, time, and location
- The negligent acts, errors, or omissions that made the responsible parties at fault for your injuries
- Your attorney’s liability theory
- Your injuries, treatment, recovery period, and rehabilitation
- Your economic damages: current and future medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages
- Your non-economic damages: pain, suffering, psychological trauma, loss of consortium, etc.
- A demand for a specific dollar figure to settle your case
- Your attorney’s future intentions for handling your case: mediation, arbitration, lawsuit, etc.
- A date by which your attorney requires a response
A demand letter fully explains your case and your intentions to pursue damages. It eliminates any potential doubt about your willingness to take legal action. It can also initiate negotiations by presenting a demand. Liability insurers often follow suit by making a counteroffer. The process often goes back and forth until the insurer, your lawyer, and you agree on a settlement amount.
Demand Letters Serve Several Purposes
A demand letter explains your legal position concerning your accident. In most cases, it tells responsible parties and their insurers that you are ready and willing to settle. When the claim process doesn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, a demand letter serves other purposes.
An Initial Notice of Your Injury Claim
Sometimes a demand letter is a responsible party’s or their insurer’s first notice of your liability claim. This occurs when a personal injury attorney encounters obstacles when identifying some of the responsible parties. It also happens when a person simply refuses to acknowledge a claim or turn in a claim to their liability carrier. Examples of these scenarios include:
- A premises liability injury where out-of-state entities own a poorly maintained property
- A trucking accident involving a driver, owner, transport company, shipper, or loader that isn’t easy to identify or locate
- A person who won’t acknowledge your attorney’s letter of representation
- A negligent party who won’t respond or turn in a claim because they don’t feel responsible for your injuries
- An uninsured driver trying to avoid legal responsibility
In many cases, a demand letter convinces reluctant parties to respond. They either turn in a liability claim or contact an attorney.
A Reminder to a Liability Insurer to Negotiate in Good Faith
When your attorney sends a demand letter, it’s often a follow-up to ongoing correspondence with a liability insurer. After a negligent party reports a liability claim, your attorney usually deals with a claim department or their legal representative from that point forward. Even if the insurer makes an offer before they receive your attorney’s demand letter, it reminds them of several key points:
- You are ready to settle your case.
- Your attorney has evaluated your injury claim and established a fair settlement value.
- Your attorney is willing to negotiate in good faith and expects the same from the insurer.
- You are open to mediation or other alternative dispute resolution programs.
- A demand letter documents prior phone discussions by putting them in writing.
Notification That an Insurer Must Consider their Policyholder’s Excess Exposure
If you sustain severe or catastrophic injuries, the responsible party’s auto policy or homeowner’s policy might not provide enough coverage to pay your damages. A demand letter gives a liability insurer advance notice of your claim’s high value. It forces them to notify their insured by sending an excess letter explaining their potential for an uninsured financial loss.
It also forces the insurer to reevaluate their claim and look at settlement from a different perspective. As insurers have a duty to protect their policyholders, they must make an effort to resolve a case within their policy limits.
Final Contact Before Your Attorney Files a Lawsuit
When a liability insurer makes an offer, it’s not always enough to compensate you for all of your damages. When this happens, negotiations often stall. A demand letter provides a written evaluation of the issues and damages. It sometimes encourages an insurer to reassess their negotiation strategy. It gives them another opportunity to settle your claim before your attorney files a lawsuit.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you might already know that the claim process is complicated. When you work with a personal injury attorney, they take immediate steps to protect your legal interest. While you rest and heal, they investigate your accident and determine if you have a legal right to recover damages. When appropriate, they contact the responsible parties and their insurers to resolve your claim.