Craig Rosenbaum | April 7, 2022 | Personal Injury
Attorneys use settlement demand letters to begin the negotiation process in personal injury cases.
An attorney uses settlement demand letters in all types of personal injury cases, including:
- Car accidents
- Product liability claims
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents (premises liability claims)
- Construction accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Wrongful death claims
Writing an effective settlement demand letter increases the chance of a positive outcome in your case. A well-written settlement demand letter convinces an insurance adjuster that settling the case is better than going to court.
Before discussing how to write a settlement demand letter, it helps to understand what should be included in the letter.
What Do I Need to Include in a Settlement Demand Letter?
Your settlement demand letter must include all relevant information for the insurance company to make a decision regarding your claim.
Generally, settlement demand letters include:
- A heading identifying the parties in the case, including the injured person and the at-fault party (the insured)
- The insurance policy number and the claim number
- A brief summary of the accident or incident that led to your injury (e.g., the date, time, and location of the accident that caused your injury)
- A legal analysis of why the other party is financially liable for your damages, including the elements of negligence or other legal causes of action
- A discussion of your injuries, including the severity of your injuries, permanent impairments, treatment, etc.
- A summary of your damages, including economic and non-economic damages
- The demand for settlement (the amount you are willing to accept to settle your claim)
Each settlement demand letter is unique because it is based on the facts and circumstances of the case. Let’s review some tips for writing a settlement demand letter.
What Are Some Tips for Writing a Settlement Demand Letter in New York?
Five things to remember when writing a settlement demand letter are:
Include Specific Details Relevant to Your Case
Insurance claims adjusters handle hundreds of cases each year. They review many settlement demand letters. Therefore, your settlement demand letter needs to stand out.
You should never exaggerate your damages, but if there is something that makes your case unique, highlight that fact. For example, if you were an avid bicyclist or tennis player but cannot do these activities because of an accident injury, you need to highlight that fact.
Use bold type, underlining, and italicization to emphasize unique details. However, do not try to emphasize every point. Instead, choose the most compelling facts that make your case stand out to the insurance adjuster.
Never include any information or details that could be used to blame you for the cause of your injury. Contributory fault rules can decrease the value of your damages if you are held partially responsible for causing your injury.
Don’t Set a Deadline for Responding Unless You Are Serious
Setting a deadline can hurt your credibility if you do not intend to follow through. For example, stating that you will file a personal injury lawsuit if the insurance company fails to respond within 30 days is unwise. If you do not file the lawsuit after 30 days, the insurance adjuster knows you are all bluster.
The amount of time it takes to receive a response to a settlement demand letter depends on many factors. For example, insurance companies receive thousands of claims each year, so the adjuster’s caseload impacts response time. Also, the complexity of your case and the amount of damages you request will impact the response time.
Instead of setting a deadline, follow up with the claims adjuster if you do not receive a response after 45 days to ensure the company received your demand letter. Also, consider talking with a lawyer if the insurance company refuses to respond or does not acknowledge receiving the demand letter after 60 days.
The New York statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing lawsuits. The deadlines differ depending on the type of injury claim. Some insurance companies may delay claims in hopes that you do not file a lawsuit before the deadline expires.
Explain Why You Deserve More Money for Your Claim
The claims adjuster must justify the amount they pay to settle your claim. Therefore, include specific details about why your claim should receive maximum compensation.
For example, you sustained a permanent impairment that prevents you from doing specific activities. Your injuries required multiple surgeries and months of therapy. To justify the amount you are requesting, you should detail the severity of your injury, your medical costs, the time you missed from work, and your pain and suffering.
Don’t Set a Specific Amount Unless You Demand the Policy Limits
Unless you demand the insurance policy limits, refrain from demanding a specific amount to settle your claim (unless you understand how to value damages). You could demand less than the insurance adjuster was willing to pay to settle your claim.
Calculating the value of pain and suffering damages can be tricky. Unlike financial losses, there are no receipts or bills to determine the value of pain and suffering damages. Therefore, allowing the insurance company to make the first offer can avoid costly mistakes.
Maintain a Professional Tone
Avoid aggressive or inflammatory language. Ranting and raving about how the accident was not your fault will cause the adjuster to ignore your demands.
Instead, be clear and concise. Set forth your legal arguments for liability. Over-the-top exaggerations decrease your credibility with the insurance adjuster.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in New York City For Help With a Settlement Demand Letter
If you do not know how to value damages in a personal injury case, writing a settlement demand letter can work against you. Likewise, if you do not understand the legal requirements for liability claims, you might miss a critical element that would result in maximum compensation for an injury claim.
Most accident attorneys in New York offer free consultations. Therefore, it does not cost you anything to seek legal advice before writing a settlement demand letter.