After you’ve been injured because of the negligence of someone else, you deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries, lost wages, pain, suffering and other damages. The first step in negotiating a settlement in this case is sending a “demand” letter to the insurer involved. Although you can do this on your own, having an experienced car crash law firm Kent help draft this letter will ensure the document is correct and sufficient.
What’s in a Demand Letter?
The demand letter, which will go to the claims adjuster assigned to your case, has a short summary of your side of the story, along with your damages and injuries. It’s meant to convince the insurer to settle the claim without the need for a costly and long court battle.
An effective demand letter will explain your version of the accident, set out the types and amounts of your damages and injuries, make a lost wages claim if applicable, and present all supporting documentation. It may also be wise to mention other expenses or losses connected to the accident, such as pain and suffering and work limitations.
This letter also includes a starting dollar amount to settle your claim without a court battle. A demand letter normally includes a statement indicating that it is for settlement purposes only and a request for the policy limits of the insurance product involved if those limits are not yet known.
Tips and Strategies for the Effective Demand Letter
Demand letters must be persuasive, concise and clear to be successful. They should adhere to the following guidelines.
- Less is often more: Most adjusters will spend little time reading the demand letter. They are more focused on tangible evidence, such as police reports, photographs, medical records and wage lost statements from employers. Any “fluff” or excess wording will not result in a better offer, so an effective demand letter should be very clear, concise and to the point.
- Fault should be addressed: In the brief summary of your version of events, you should cover why the other party was at fault and why you were not. Do this without insulting or disparaging the other party.
- Don’t include “accident”: Always say “incident” and not “accident,” as the latter word implies no one was at fault.
- Include injury mechanics: It’s helpful to describe how your body moved in the car at the time of impact and whether your body hit any part of the car, such as the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield. When you let the adjuster know how your body moved, it provides them with insight into your injuries and how you received them, lending weight to your claim.
- Downplay treatment gaps and pre-existing injuries: In the demand letter, let the adjuster know you did not have pre-existing injuries to the body parts you hurt in the incident and don’t mention any treatment gaps you may have had. Insurers try to take advantage of pre-existing medical conditions and gaps in treatment to downplay claim values.
- Aim over the ceiling: Keep in mind that this letter is your initial demand for case settlement, so the proposed amount should be over what the case is worth and not less. Generally, demand letters ask for two to five times the amount of lost wages and medical bills. Your car crash law firm Kent will help you determine what the amount in your initial demand letter should be so you kick off negotiations on the right foot.
While you can write a demand letter on your own and negotiate with the insurer on your own, your chances of receiving a fair and favorable settlement improve when you work with an experienced car crash law firm Kent. Except in incredibly serious cases, it’s pretty unlikely the adjuster will meet your demand head on. Instead, a back-and-forth negotiation period will begin, and you will need to know the ins and outs of the industry and the law to be successful here.
When you use an attorney, they will handle this area of your claim and other things for you. This enables you to focus on your recovery while having someone experienced on your side who is working toward the best settlement possible for your case.