Brian White | February 16, 2021 | Houston Personal Injury Attorney
Settlement demand letters are used in most personal injury cases to begin settlement negotiations. These letters are generally drafted by the accident victim or the attorney for the accident victim and sent to the at-fault party’s insurance provider. The insurance company reviews the settlement demand letter and issues a response.
Things You Should Know About Settlement Demand Letters
A few things to know about using settlement demand letters in a personal injury case include:
YOU CAN SEND A SETTLEMENT DEMAND LETTER IN ANY PERSONAL INJURY CASE
Most people associate settlement demand letters with slip and fall accidents or car accidents. However, demand letters are used in all types of personal injury cases, including cases involving birth injuries, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, premises liability, and defective products.
THE INSURANCE COMPANY MAY ACCEPT YOUR SETTLEMENT DEMAND
If the insurance company accepts your settlement demand, it will require you to sign a settlement agreement. You should know that a settlement agreement ends your claim. After you sign a settlement agreement, the insurance company is not required to pay you more money, even if you discover additional injuries.
YOU NEED TO WAIT UNTIL YOU COMPLETE MEDICAL TREATMENT
Your settlement demand letter should include all damages caused by the accident. Until you complete medical treatment, you cannot know the final total for medical bills, lost income, and other financial losses. You cannot know whether you sustained a permanent impairment until your doctor releases you and issues a final prognosis.
Brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other catastrophic injuries can substantially increase the value of your injury claim. Waiting until your doctor releases you and you have identified all damages is the only way to calculate the value of your claim for a settlement demand letter.
What Should I Include in a Settlement Demand Letter?
Settlement demand letters are specific to the type of personal injury you sustained. The letter includes details relevant to your case and your damages. However, most settlement demand letters contain sections related to the information below.
Your letter should have a section immediately below the heading that provides information that identifies the claim. Information included in this section is:
- Your name as the claimant
- The name of all other parties involved in the case and their roles in the case
- The insurance policy number
- The claim number assigned to your case
At the end of the letter, make sure to include your contact information, such as your address, telephone number, and email address.
This section summarizes how the accident occurred. For example, if you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you would include the date, time, and accident location. You would also describe how the accident occurred.
Try to focus on the facts. Referring to the police officer’s accident report can be helpful, especially when the accident report states the other driver is at fault.
You may also refer to other evidence that explains how you were injured, such as medical reports, incident reports, and eyewitness statements.
Based on the facts of the case, you need to discuss why the other party is responsible for your injuries and damages. In most personal injury cases, you must demonstrate the legal elements of negligence. Those elements are:
- The other party owed you a duty of care
- The party breached the duty of care
- The breach was a direct cause of the accident or incident that caused your injury
- You sustained injuries and damages as a result of the other party’s conduct
It can be challenging to complete this section of a settlement demand letter if you do not understand the legal elements of a personal injury claim. Focus on how the other party’s actions or omissions were reckless and negligent.
Summary of Injuries
Describe your injuries in detail. Refer to the medical records and doctor statements that explain the severity of your injuries. If you sustained a permanent impairment, you need to reference the doctor’s statement and attach a copy of the statement to the letter.
Discussion of Damages
This section of the demand letter provides details of your damages. Damages in an injury case include financial losses, such as lost wages, medical bills, medications, personal care costs, and travel expenses.
You are also entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident and your injury. Pain and suffering damages also include compensation for scarring, disfigurement, impairments, and loss of quality of life.
In this section, describe your pain levels and how your injuries impacted your daily activities. You can discuss emotional and mental trauma and how the injuries impacted your relationship with others.
Demand for Settlement
The last section states the amount of compensation you demand to settle the injury claim. It is best to demand an amount higher than you are willing to accept to settle the claim, so you have room to negotiate a final settlement.
If you are unsure how to calculate the value of your pain and suffering damages and financial damages, you may want to consult a personal injury lawyer. The last thing you want to do is undervalue your claim and receive much less than you deserve after being injured by another party.