Once the attorney has completed the process of obtaining all relevant information necessary to establish her case, it’s time to draft and send a demand letter. A demand letter, as its name connotes, is a letter demanding settlement of the claim for a certain amount of money. The letter should set forth a few important things.
ESTABLISHING LIABILITY FOR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
First, it should explain clearly and concisely how it will be established at trial that the defendant is responsible for the incident that caused the injury. It may be necessary to attach police reports, witness statements or photographic evidence to the letter in order to provide proof that liability can be proven at trial. It also is important to provide case and statutory authority to show exactly how the person is liable for the injuries. The added legal authority works to hammer home the point that the plaintiff can prove the defendant’s liability at trial.
ESTABLISHING DAMAGES FOR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Second, the letter should detail the injuries sustained by the plaintiff and the treatment received for the injuries. It will be necessary for the lawyer to attach copies of medical records and bills to the letter in order to establish how much was spent on medical treatment as well as showing the actual treatment for the injury. I’m sure it comes as no shock, but insurance companies won’t take you at your word that you have been injured – they demand proof of that. Any other items of damages should also be detailed, including lost wages and future medical expenses.
DEMAND FOR MONEY
The third component of the demand letter is the amount of settlement. Because settling personal injury cases is a process of negotiation, I always start at the high end of my settlement range or a little above it. That gives me room to negotiate down. If I don’t start high, I can’t move downward and the insurance company will feel I’m being unreasonable and may stop negotiating.
TIME LIMIT TO RESPOND TO DEMAND
The final component of my demand letters involves setting a time frame within which I require the insurance company to respond. If they fail to respond within the time frame allowed then I file a lawsuit, which means the insurance company now has to begin paying a lawyer to defend against the case. It’s my goal to make my demand letter so persuasive that the insurance company recognizes that it will lose at trial and thus will want to settle the matter rather than have to waste money paying lawyers. The amount of time I allow is determined on a case-by-case basis.
If you’ve been injured by another party, please give me a call at 404-474-2531 for a free and confidential consultation.