How to Write a Settlement Demand Letter
Ryan Bradley | March 29, 2022 | Personal Injury
Personal injury lawyers send settlement demand letters to insurance companies demanding a specific amount to resolve a personal injury claim. The letter is a starting point for settlement negotiations between the parties. Most personal injury cases settle through negotiations instead of going to trial.
The insurance company may accept the settlement offer, but typically it makes a counteroffer for a lower amount. Thus, back-and-forth negotiations begin until the parties agree on a settlement figure or the injured party files a personal injury lawsuit.
What Should You Include in a Settlement Demand Letter?
Settlement demand letters are unique to the case; there is no one-size-fits-all letter to use in all personal injury cases. However, most settlement demand letters include basic information such as:
- General information about the parties involved in the dispute, including names, addresses, insurance policy numbers, claim numbers, and more
- A summary of the facts of the case, including specific details of how an injury or accident occurred
- An analysis of the relevant statutes and case law that creates liability for a personal injury (i.e., the legal elements of negligence, premises liability, strict liability, contributory fault, etc.)
- Discussion of victim’s injuries and damages, including economic damages and non-economic damages
- A demand for payment of damages (may or may not include a specific amount)
Writing a settlement demand letter can be challenging if you are unsure what damages you are entitled to receive or how to calculate the value of damages. You also need to understand the laws that entitle you to financial compensation for an injury.
Tips for Writing a Settlement Demand Letter
General tips to keep in mind when writing a settlement demand letter for an accident or personal injury include:
Monitor the Missouri Statute of Limitations
The deadline for filing most personal injury claims in Missouri is five years from the injury date. However, there are exceptions. For example, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years in most cases. When a government entity is involved, you may have just 90 days to file a notice of claim to preserve your right to file a lawsuit.
Wait Until You Complete Medical Treatment
When you settle a personal injury claim, you sign a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement prepared by the insurance company releases “all claims and all parties” from any further liability for your claim.
In other words, if you discover you need surgery, have a permanent impairment, or can hold another party liable for damages, you are out of luck. You gave up the right to pursue further compensation when you signed the settlement agreement.
Therefore, wait until you complete medical treatment before sending a settlement demand letter. Your doctor needs to provide an impairment rating if you sustain permanent disabilities. Permanent impairments and disabilities significantly increase the value of your injury claim.
Length of the Demand Letter
The length of the demand letter depends on the severity of your injuries and the amount of damages requested. Smaller personal injury claims do not require dozens of pages to explain the details of the case.
Making a Specific Demand
If you send the demand letter without consulting an attorney, you might want to avoid asking for a specific amount in your letter. You could ask for less money than the insurance company is willing to pay to settle the case.
If you decide to include a specific settlement demand, always ask for more money than you are willing to accept to settle the claim. You want to have room to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If your claim is worth more than or is close to the insurance policy limits, demand the policy limits.
Highlight Unique Factors
Highlight the unique factors of your case, such as permanent impairments, activities or events you missed, and how the injuries impacted your daily life.
Use Professional Language
Avoid using aggressive and inflammatory language. Instead, you need to make a clear, rational argument to support your demand for compensation for damages.
Avoid Setting Deadlines
Setting a deadline for a response can backfire unless you are serious about your deadline. Instead, realize that it could take 60 to 120 days to receive a response to your settlement demand letter. The insurance company reviews your demand and analyzes your case to determine if and how much to pay.
Know When to Contact a St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer
Instances that suggest it is in your best interest to seek legal advice include, but are not limited to:
- You sustained traumatic injuries or permanent impairments
- The insurance company ignores your claim or unnecessarily delays the claim
- Your case involves a government entity, commercial motor vehicle, multiple parties, or a child’s injury
- The other party or the insurance company says you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident
- You were injured because of medical malpractice, a defective product, or unsafe property conditions
- A person died because of an accident or injury
- You are unfamiliar with personal injury laws and damages
As discussed above, writing a settlement demand letter can be complicated. You do not want to say something that could hurt your chance of recovering full compensation for all damages.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm For Help Today
For more information, please contact Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.
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