Building a solid personal injury claim is easier said than done. Victims must deal with every step carefully to ensure they can fight the insurance company involved.
The first step toward starting settlement negotiations is writing a demand letter. As the name implies, demand letters are documents that outline all the important details of the case. It also states the victim's financial compensation demands.
Even though the process of writing a letter seems simple enough, there are a few details to consider to be successful. Here are all the details surrounding personal injury demand letters, including what they should include and why they're useful.
The page also includes a sample demand letter everyone can use and adapt to their case. Before using it, it's crucial to consult with a professional attorney to ensure it includes all the necessary details to ask for a fair settlement from the insurance adjuster. They can help with questions such as What is a personal injury claim in Texas?
What's the Point of a Personal Injury Demand Letter?
The "point" of a demand letter is to start settlement negotiations the right way. If the victim doesn't do anything, the other party's insurance company will likely make a lowball offer that won't cover all the damages that came as a result of the accident.
Sending a demand letter first ensures the victim makes the first move, letting the company know that they're not planning on ignoring the claim. It also lets insurance adjusters know that the victim plans on hiring legal professionals if they don't get a fair settlement.
Most importantly, demand letters help people organize their personal injury cases. Even though they are meant for insurance companies and other at-fault parties, these letters include an overview of the personal injury case, making it easier to choose the best way to present all the relevant facts about it, including evidence like medical records.
Those struggling to determine how much their case is worth will also benefit from writing a demand letter, as it requires victims to do research and figure out how much they lost because of the accident.
Who Can Send a Demand Letter for a Personal Injury Case?
Victims are meant to send the demand letter. The process of writing it can be hard, especially if the victim doesn't have any experience (which is the most likely scenario).
Thankfully, these people can hire an experienced lawyer to write the letter on their behalf. These experts can use their knowledge to write a solid and compelling letter, as well as communicate with the insurance company during the process.
What Should an Effective Demand Letter Have?
Most letters should include the following items to ensure they're as solid as possible:
- Date of the accident
- Name of the insured party
- Policy number of the insured party (if it's available)
- Recap of the events leading up to the accident
- Consequences of the accident
- People/parties involved in the accident
- Breakdown of all the economic/non-economic damages suffered
- Contact information of the person making the claim
Even though that information should be enough to write a compelling letter, it may be necessary to attach documents as evidence. If the victim wants to sue for non-economic damages, for example, they will need to attach statements, records, and other evidence that supports the claim.
Showing documentation is a great way of getting the insurance company to respond with a fair offer. However, victims shouldn't disclose their entire claim, as that could hurt their strategy. Showing supporting information is enough to create a great letter.
A personal injury lawyer can help the victim determine which documents are appropriate to include in the demand letter.
What Happens if the Insurance Company Doesn't Answer the Demand Letter?
Sending the demand letter is only the beginning of the personal injury claim. Insurance companies can respond in many ways. Here are four different scenarios that insurance providers consider:
Deny the compensation request.
Send a counteroffer for compensation.
Ask for further information about the claim.
Accept the request and pay.
Every claimant would prefer these companies to go with the last option to avoid losing more time. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.
If the insurance company decides to deny the request, for example, they must state a reason.
What if the insurance company doesn't answer? Here, the victim can move on to filing a lawsuit. The main benefit of not getting an answer from these companies is that the victim can use that in their favor in court. They can assert unfair practices or bad faith in their claim.
If the insurance company doesn't answer the lawsuit, the victim can request a default judgment against it. This means that the court will rule in favor of the plaintiff since the other party never responded or took action.
Here's How to Get Started | Sample Demand Letter
Each personal injury claim is unique, but most demand letters follow a similar pattern.
An essential aspect of these letters is that they look professional, but how do people achieve that?
Here's a sample demand letter that anyone can use to guide themselves throughout the process. If there's any doubt, a professional personal injury lawyer could help to adapt the sample to the victim's unique demands and circumstances:
(CITY, STATE, AND ZIP CODE)
MONTH, DAY, AND YEAR
(INSURANCE COMPANY NAME)
(CITY, STATE, AND ZIP CODE)
Dear (INSURANCE COMPANY AGENT):
I was in a (TYPE OF ACCIDENT) at (NAME OF THE PLACE) at (ADDRESS) on (DATE). At (TIME), I was (EXPLAIN THE ACTIONS LEADING TO THE ACCIDENT). I currently have a copy of the accident's report, as well as videos and photographic evidence of the scene. I also have statements from (NUMBER OF WITNESSES) witnesses that back up these claims. (NAME OF STORE) is your insured party.
(NAME OF STORE) failed to keep the area clear of obstacles, which created a dangerous situation on the premises. According to Texas law, there's legal liability for owners who negligently/recklessly let hazardous conditions exist on their premises.
I was injured and taken to (HEALTHCARE FACILITY) as a result of my accident. Due to the severity of these injuries, I underwent several diagnostic tests, surgery, and rehabilitation sessions. These injuries have not allowed me to return to work, as I still suffer from physical limitations and residual pain.
Here is a breakdown of my economic losses:
Medical bills: $______
Lost wages: $______
Property damage: $______
Out-of-pocket expenses: $______
Pain and suffering: $______
Other losses: $______
All my losses total $_______. After reviewing all the circumstances surrounding this claim, I believe this would be a fair settlement of the claim.
I look forward to your response and attention to this important matter.
It's crucial to remember that this is an example. Some victims may need to adjust the sample demand letter to fit certain requirements or add more details.
In Texas, people should send their demand letter as soon as possible to give the insurance company enough time to review and respond to it. According to local law (Texas Revised Statutes Section 542.055), insurance companies should respond to a claim within 15 days after receiving the letter.
Why Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Is Essential for This Process
Dealing with the other party's insurance company is complicated. The people working there are trained to get victims the lowest settlement possible, no matter how serious the injuries are.
Victims are already dealing with the pain of their serious injuries, so adding negotiations on top of that makes the process even more stressful. The best solution to this problem is to get help from an experienced attorney.
By getting legal assistance, especially when writing a demand letter, victims can focus on their medical treatment and recovery. The attorney will take care of the rest. They will also ensure that the letter is tailored to the victim's needs, ensuring their legal strategy is as effective as possible.
Houston personal injury lawyers will also assist victims when evaluating responses. Not all insurance companies will respond positively to a demand letter, no matter how solid it is. Getting a professional opinion on the matter ensures the victim can evaluate the next steps in the best way possible.
Personal injury claims are complex, regardless of how minor the damage was. The key to success in personal injury cases is preparing accordingly, filing all the necessary documents in time, and getting the right legal representation for the entire process.
There are many sample demand letters to get started, but it's still important to go over the case with a personal injury attorney. These professionals will ensure that the settlement demand is compelling enough to get the insurance company to pay or negotiate. This will help the victim deal with medical expenses, lost wages, and many other damages related to the case. They can also help with explaining what personal injury fraud is.
At Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, there's a group of legal experts ready to help victims build a great case, from writing the injury demand letter to negotiating with the other parties involved. After scheduling a free consultation with a professional from this firm, the victim can easily go through all the case details with them, ensuring they get a proper plan to fight for their rights.