Personal injury lawyers use a settlement demand letter to begin settlement negotiations with an insurance company. The demand letter gives the parties a starting point to negotiate a reasonable settlement agreement. As a result, many personal injury cases are resolved through settlement negotiations.
What Is Included in a Settlement Demand Letter?
Even though each case and letter is unique, there are several items generally included in a basic settlement demand letter:
- General information about the case, including the names of the parties involved, the insurance policy number, the claim number, etc.
- A discussion of the factors that led to the accident and injury, including specific conduct by the at-fault party
- An analysis of relevant case law and statutes that create liability by proving breach of duty and causation under negligence, strict liability, or other tort laws
- A discussion of the injuries and damages sustained by the victim, including economic damages (financial losses) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering)
- A monetary demand to release the parties from liability for injuries and damages
It can be challenging to write a demand letter without knowing personal injury laws, insurance laws, and damages. In addition, you must be able to provide sufficient evidence to prove fault and liability. You must also understand how to calculate the value of your claim so that you do not receive less than you deserve after an accident.
General Tips for Writing a Settlement Demand Letter
If you decide to write a settlement demand letter, a few tips to keep in mind include:
Do Not Say Anything to Admit Fault
If you make any statements that could be misconstrued as accepting partial blame for the cause of the accident, your compensation could be reduced. Florida’s comparative fault laws state that an accident victim’s compensation may be reduced by their percentage of fault for the cause of an accident.
Beware of the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits. Missing the deadline means giving up the right to seek compensation for a personal injury. In most cases, you must file a Florida personal injury lawsuit within four years from the accident date.
However, there are exceptions. For example, wrongful death claims have a two-year statute of limitations in Florida. Medical malpractice cases also have a two-year deadline for filing lawsuits.
There could be other exceptions to the general deadlines for filing lawsuits. Therefore, it is best to seek legal advice if you are unsure of the deadline that applies to your case.
Complete Your Medical Treatment
Before sending a settlement demand letter, complete your doctor’s treatment plan. Ask your doctor if you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Some individuals recover fully from an accident. However, other individuals sustain permanent impairments and disabilities.
If you sustained permanent impairments or disabilities, you might be entitled to future damages. A Miami personal injury lawyer understands how to calculate future damages, and may hire economists, medical experts, and other expert witnesses to assist in providing evidence supporting the demand for future damages.
Choose an Amount That is Higher to Allow for Negotiations
The insurance company will likely issue a counteroffer for a lower amount. Therefore, demand a higher settlement amount than the amount you are willing to accept to settle the case. You give yourself room to negotiate with the insurance provider by doing so.
Use Professional Language
You do not need to use legal terminology, but your language should be professional. Avoid using language that is inflammatory or aggressive. Instead, make a rational, clear argument to support your settlement demand.
Include Details About Your Injuries
It would help if you highlighted how your injuries impact your daily life. For example, include a description of the activities you cannot perform because of your injuries. In addition, describe the level of pain you experienced or continue to experience because of the injuries. Do not exaggerate, but do not put on a brave face either.
Contact a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer For Help With a Settlement Demand Letter
Some individuals may not need an attorney’s assistance to settle their personal injury claims. However, do not hesitate to seek legal advice if you are unsure about any aspects of your case.
Factors that indicate you may need help with your injury claim include, but are not limited to:
- Your case involves multiple parties, commercial vehicles, or government entities
- A defective product caused your injury
- You sustained catastrophic injuries or permanent impairments
- Your child suffered injuries because of another party’s negligence or wrongful acts
- A family member died because of an injury or accident (wrongful death claims)
- The insurance company refuses to investigate or respond to your claim
- The other party disputes liability or says you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident
- You are unfamiliar with personal injury law and damages
- Your claim involves medical malpractice
Most Miami personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. Therefore, it doesn’t cost you anything to obtain legal advice before deciding whether to handle your accident claim without a lawyer.