When it comes to personal injury cases, a settlement demand letter must be written properly if you want it to be taken seriously. Most car accident attorneys would never recommend an injured party to represent themselves in an auto accident claim against an insurance company. If you have decided to try and pursue your claim regardless, following these tips will help tremendously.
Below are the top 10 tips for writing a quality settlement demand letter.
1) Avoid Writing Very Long Letters
The length of your settlement demand letter needs to match your claim size. The more money your case is worth, the more detailed your demand letter should be. For instance, if there are millions of dollars riding on this case, the insurance companies involved will want to study every detail about the case very carefully. Specifically, they will focus on the losses in which the victim suffered. Keep in mind, if your damages are in the millions, hire an attorney.
However, if the victim did not suffer any permanent injuries and they only have medical bills worth something like $10,000, then the insurance companies will direct most of their attention to the medical records while the settlement evaluation is taking place. All the other details won’t really matter.
If you plan to represent yourself in a car accident claim, it might be acceptable to write a long settlement demand letter. On the other hand, personal injury attorneys representing victims should keep their demand letter proportionate to the extensiveness of the case. If you write an unnecessarily long letter, the insurance company will think that you are not experienced in your profession.
As a result, the insurance company will suspect that you won’t take this lawsuit all the way to a civil trial. Instead, they will think that you’ll settle for any amount which is offered. So, they will make a counteroffer for less to bluff you.
2) Mention the Most Important Details of Your Case
You need to clearly show the value of your claim. Include any relevant information that highlights this value for the insurance company such as fault determination. Do not write a treatise-type letter because you will stuff the important information in the middle of other useless information. This will make the value of the claim more difficult for the insurance company to determine. For instance, if you suffered an accident which prevented you from attending your son’s wedding, the insurance company needs to know this fact.
There are mixed opinions about whether it is a good idea to emphasize written content using italics, bold, or underline. While this might not be suitable for a novel, a settlement demand letter is different. Your letter will contain certain key facts regarding your case which need to be emphasized to the reader. The only way you can do this is by utilizing these font options.
A claims adjuster will be the one who reads your settlement demand letter. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how many demand letters they go through on a daily basis. Meanwhile, they’re browsing through medical records that have hundreds of pages to them. The only way to capture the adjuster’s attention on certain key facts is to make them bold letters, all capital letters, italic letters, or underlined letters. Otherwise, the adjuster will inadvertently skip over this information.
Of course, you don’t want to emphasize too many facts. If half the text content is in bold font, then it will look too repetitive to make it stand out. Just emphasize a couple of important facts and that is it.
3) Avoid Using Certified Mail to Send the Letter
All parties involved will typically want to avoid a lawsuit. Settling the case is the simpler way of receiving money from a claim. As a victim, you can request the highest amount of compensation possible for your claim without ever having to go to court. But if you want the insurance company to be on board with this, you cannot harass the claims adjuster by using certified mailings to send your demand letters.
When you use registered mail or certified mail to send a demand letter to an adjuster, it comes across as if you’re pushing them into responding to your demands. Just send the demand letter through regular mail and request that the adjuster agrees to a settlement which is fair for the victim. Tell them if they do not agree to this, then you will pursue this compensation in court.
4) Make Your Case Different
When the claims adjuster reviews your case, they are going to look over the medical records which pertain to it. This is how they initially decide the value of your case. But as they read your demand letter, they will make notes of all the important facts that you mentioned and take them into consideration. If you can show the adjuster how your claim is more valuable than their initial estimate, then it might persuade them to change their mind and agree to more compensation for you.
5) Avoid Getting Too Specific in Your Demands
When you write your settlement demand letter for a car accident case, the amount of your demand should not be too specific. You may end up wanting a price that is less or more than the real value of your claim. That would be bad either way. You must avoid making this mistake by allowing the insurance company to give their estimate first.
6) You Should Demand to Have Policy Limits
If there is no offer yet, it is not always a good idea to make a settlement demand first. However, demanding that there be policy limits could be good if those limits closely match the value of your claim. Prior to making the demand, your controlled contingencies and assets should undergo verification. That way, the demand won’t be locked into.
Learn about the policy limits. There are laws in several states which let you learn about the policy limits. In Texas, you are legally entitled to know the policy limits if you send a request for disclosure after the lawsuit has been filed.
7) Stay Professional
Do not use any harsh or threatening language to the insurance company. If you try to persuade them your way by threatening to seek punitive damages, first make sure that can legally be done in your case. Otherwise, do not talk to the claim’s adjusters like that. They hear this language all the time and it does not impress or persuade them.
8) State the Factors of Your Settlement
Before you agree to settle on the case, you need to clearly tell the adjuster which factors need to be considered for the settlement. These could be factors that are not mentioned in the medical bills and records too.
9) Be Patient with the Adjuster
Don’t pressure the claim’s adjuster to respond by a certain date or else you’ll file the lawsuit. You’ll likely end up not filing the lawsuit on that date, which makes you look foolish. Adjusters ignore rhetoric like this if the attorney is new to them or if the victim has no attorney. Therefore, if you try pressuring them like this, it will impede your chances of getting a claim settlement that has the high value you’re looking for.
10) Mention All the Damages You Suffered
A settlement formula does not exist, despite what the medical bills add up to. But if the victim has suffered a lot of financial damages from their accident, it will affect their claim’s value. For this reason, your settlement demand letter should mention every dollar that you spent because of your accident. Include the appropriate documentation which proves you spent this money too.
If you are still unsure how to proceed, don't hesitate to contact us for additional guidance.