How to Write a Settlement Demand Letter
Attorney Brian White | September 9, 2020 | Personal Injury
After an accident that left you or a loved one injured, you will need to begin to think about how much it’s cost you and how much compensation you feel you deserve. To help you calculate your medical bills, lost income, and other factors that will help you determine a satisfactory sum, it is advised that you take extensive notes in the days and weeks following the accident.
Another important part of making sure you are fairly compensated is hiring a seasoned personal injury lawyer. Good personal injury lawyers are experienced in these matters and will make sure the other party or their insurance company is not taking advantage of you.
A qualified personal injury lawyer can also help you craft a settlement demand letter. Settlement demand letters are an integral part of your case and are the starting point for negotiations between you and all other parties involved.
To give you an idea of how a settlement demand letter should be structured and what should be included in it, here are five tips on how to write a settlement demand letter.
Explain the Incident
At the beginning of your settlement demand letter, you will want to explain the incident that left you injured. For example, if you were involved in a car accident, you’ll want to make sure to include all relevant details such as:
- When and where the accident took place
- All parties involved
- Your side of the story/perspective of what happened
- What the weather and/or traffic conditions were like
The more information you provide, the better.
Explain Who Was Liable
Next, you will need to explain who was liable, meaning responsible, for the accident. At this point, you will need to make your case for why the other party was liable.
It can also be helpful at this point to include official documentation that recorded the incident such as witness statements, police reports, or any information about the area where the accident occurred.
In Texas, if you were partially at fault for an accident, the amount of damages you can receive is often reduced. This is called comparative negligence. If you are 51% or more at fault for an accident you can’t receive any damages at all.
However, the settlement demand letter is not the place for you to address whether or not you were partially at fault for the incident. Do not admit to any amount of liability in your letter. If you were partially at fault, you can be certain the other party will bring it up at some point during negotiations.
Explain Your Expenses
After covering the issue of liability, explain the extent of your issues. This section includes the cost of medical expenses, loss of income, and any other expenses you have incurred because of the accident.
Make sure you don’t hold back in this section. Because you might be eligible to receive both economic and non-economic damages, you should even explain how much pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the accident.
End With a Total Sum You Want to Receive
At the end of your letter, you should include the total sum of money you think you deserve. This number is the sum of all the expenses you incurred because of your injuries and also includes what you think you deserve for the hardship you have endured.
While you want to make sure your demand is reasonable and fair, it is also a good idea to make the total sum you are asking for significantly higher than what you expect to get. In your demand letter, if you ask for 1.5 to 2 times what you think you should get, that might be a good starting point for negotiations.
Include Supporting Documentation
As noted above, it can help your case immensely if you include supporting documentation. Make sure to include copies of things like:
- medical bills
- police reports
- documentation proving you couldn’t perform your job
- witness statements
- the text of relevant ordinances or laws
The more thorough your settlement demand letter, the more serious the other party will take your case. By including ample documentation, the liable party or their insurance company will know you mean business and that you have a solid case.
Work with a Personal Injury Attorney
While you can find examples of settlement demand letters online that you can use as a template, it is often best to work with a personal injury lawyer who has years of experience drafting settlement demand letters. Not only will they know what is a fair settlement in your case, but they will know which documentation to include and how to write persuasively to get you the compensation you deserve.