Jill Kolodner | November 23, 2020 | Personal Injury
When you are injured because of another person’s reckless, negligent, or careless acts, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. In most cases, the person’s insurance company handles your personal injury claim. The insurance provider investigates the claim and negotiates a settlement of the claim.
When you complete your medical care and are ready to settle the claim, you send a settlement demand letter to the insurance company. The settlement demand letter states how much you believe you should receive as compensation for your physical injuries, emotional trauma, economic losses, and other damages.
Can I Write My Own Settlement Demand Letter?
Yes, you can write a settlement demand letter and send it to the insurance company.
However, if you are not familiar with personal injury laws, the value of non-economic damages, or the types of damages you can include in a personal injury claim, you might want an attorney to draft the demand letter for you. Cases involving catastrophic injuries or a specialized area of personal injury law, such as product liability, medical malpractice, or wrongful death, can also benefit from having an experienced lawyer handling the matter.
If the insurance company agrees to your settlement offer, your claim ends when you sign a release and receive your money. A settlement agreement is a binding legal document. Once you agree to the settlement, you cannot sue the at-fault party or demand more money.
Therefore, you might want to consult a personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement for your personal injury case.
What is Included in a Settlement Demand Letter?
There are several sections in a settlement demand letter. Each section contains specific and important information related to your claim.
A general settlement demand letter includes:
In the heading of the letter, include your name and contact information. Also include information regarding the at-fault party, insurance policy number, and claim number. All parties to the claim should be identified in the heading with their roles clearly noted (i.e., claimant, insured, etc.).
Summary of Facts
The next section includes a description of the parties involved in the accident.
It is common not to have a great deal of information about the person who caused your accident. You can focus on describing yourself, including your occupation, age, and family. The information highlights how the accident and your injuries have impacted numerous areas of your life.
This section also includes a summary of the accident. The summary should be short and include facts about how the accident occurred. You can reference accident reports, police reports, or other evidence related to the cause of the accident.
You need to describe your injuries. Keep in mind that you need medical evidence to prove your injuries. Referring to the medical records can be helpful when describing your injuries.
Your damages include financial losses, such as medical bills and loss of income. You may also include expenses related to personal care, help with household chores, travel expenses, and childcare expenses. You must have proof of each financial loss to include it in your claim.
Damages also include non-economic losses or “pain and suffering” damages. Pain and suffering damages include physical pain, loss of quality of life, mental anguish, emotional trauma, and permanent impairments. You can describe how your injuries impact your daily activities and your relationship with family and friends.
This section discusses why the insured is liable for your damages. What did the person do to cause your accident and how was the action negligent or reckless? Keep in mind that you are arguing the four elements of a negligence claim:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty of care
For the person to be liable for your damages, you must prove the legal elements for fault and liability.
Demand for Settlement
The last section states how much you request to settle the claim. This figure should include all damages.
Can I Get Into Trouble Writing My Own Settlement Demand Letter?
It is essential to keep in mind that whatever you say in the settlement demand letter could be used against you if you need to file a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, you could hurt your chance of receiving full compensation for your damages if you word the letter incorrectly or accidentally give the insurance company information it can use to deny your claim.
It cannot hurt to consult with a personal injury lawyer before sending your settlement demand letter. An attorney could identify something that could help you receive the compensation you deserve after being injured.