Stephen Hasner | Personal Injury | November 10, 2020
If your injuries were due to an accident or other incident involving negligence or wrongdoing, you might be entitled to compensation for your damages. Your damages may include financial losses, including medical bills and loss of income. Damages also include the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident and your injuries.
In most cases, the at-fault party’s insurance company is responsible for compensating you for your injuries and damages. A settlement demand letter is used to ask for a settlement. The demand letter indicates that you are willing and ready to settle your claim related to your slip and fall accident, car crash, construction accident, or other injury.
When Should I Use a Settlement Demand Letter?
You can use a settlement demand letter to begin negotiations regarding any personal injury claim. However, your time to file a personal injury lawsuit is restricted by Georgia’s statutes of limitations. You do not want to wait too long to send a demand letter regarding your claim.
Most personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of the injury. There are exceptions to that rule, so you may want to consult a personal injury lawyer now to avoid missing a deadline. Missing the deadline means giving up your right to recover money for your injuries.
However, you do not want to rush to send a settlement demand letter. If you settle your claim before you complete medical treatment, you could receive much less than your injury claim is worth.
The statements you make in your settlement demand letter could hurt your claim. An innocent statement or comment could give the insurance company a reason to deny your claim based on various reasons, including comparative fault.
What are the Parts of a Settlement Demand Letter?
Attorneys draft settlement demand letters that are tailored specifically for a case and a unique set of facts.
However, most settlement demand letters contain the following essential elements:
The heading includes your name, address, and contact information. It also contains the name and address of the party receiving the letter, such as the insurance company. The letter is typically addressed to the insurance claims adjuster assigned to the case.
A heading should also contain information to identify the parties to the claim. In most cases, it is your name and the names of all other parties involved in the accident. You should also include the date of the accident.
If available, also include the name of the insured, policy number, and claim number. By including this information, you ensure that the letter is directed to the correct department and individuals.
Introduction and Summary of Accident
The next section of a settlement demand letter includes a brief summary of the parties involved. You can give a general description of yourself, including your age, occupation, and family. This information is helpful in other sections when discussing how your injuries have impacted your life.
The introduction also contains a broad description of the accident. Be careful not to include any statements that could be interpreted as admitting fault. Something as innocent as stating that you woke up late the morning of the accident could be used to claim that you were distracted or speeding at the time of the accident.
Injuries and Damages
The next section describes your injuries. Be sure to include a description of how the injuries impacted your daily life. For example, you were out of work for three months, you had to hire someone to perform housework, or you needed help with childcare.
Discussing the extent of your injuries and how those injuries impacted your life support your allegations of pain and suffering damages. You can also describe the various treatments required, such as surgeries and physical therapy. Include a statement from your physician regarding your current condition, impairment rating, and prognosis.
A settlement demand letter also contains a section in which you explain why you are entitled to compensation. For example, the other driver failed to stop at a red light or a dog owner failed to keep the dog on a leash. In both cases, the party breached a duty of care that resulted in your injury.
Make sure to include copies of accident reports, police reports, and other evidence that proves the other party was responsible for causing your injury.
Demand for Compensation
Your demand for compensation includes specific and documented damages for financial losses. Include copies of medical bills and proof of lost wages and other expenses.
Your demand also includes an amount for non-economic damages. Placing a value on pain and suffering damages can be challenging. There are several ways to calculate pain and suffering damages, including multipliers and per diems.
What Happens Next?
The insurance company may approve or deny your claim. It could also make a counteroffer. If it makes a counteroffer, you may accept the offer or negotiate with the company to settle the claim.
Once you sign a settlement agreement, your claim ends. The settlement agreement drafted by the insurance company releases all parties from any and all claims. Even if you discover you need another surgery or failed to include damages in the claim, you cannot go back to the insurance company for more money.
If you are unsure how much your claim is worth, talk to a personal injury lawyer before sending the letter.