How to Write a Settlement Demand Letter
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers | Personal Injury
Most personal injury claims are not resolved through trial; most claimants would rather settle their claim at the negotiating table. Settlement is simply quicker, easier, and cheaper than going through a trial. One of the first steps in settling a case is to send a settlement demand letter to the party responsible for paying your claim—typically, an insurance company. You need to draft your demand letter with care.
You must take care of certain preliminary matters before you will be ready to draft your settlement demand letter.
Wait for Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
MMI is the point at which your doctor certifies that your medical condition has already improved as much as it is ever going to. In most cases, it is best to wait until you reach MMI before you send a settlement demand letter. One exception would be if the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is approaching. Florida typically gives you four years from the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Calculate Estimated Future Damages
You might suffer long-term or even permanent disability from your injuries. This might mean, for example, dialysis for the rest of your life, and complete loss of your ability to work. You will probably need to calculate your total lifetime losses before you draft your settlement demand letter. Remember that if you settle for too little, there is no way you are going to be able to come back and ask for more money later.
Determine Who to Send the Letter to
You might run into serious difficulty finding a party who is liable to you for serious injuries sustained in a Florida car accident. Your PIP insurance, mandatory for every Florida motorist, will cover you up to $10,000. You will need to prove you suffered a “serious injury.” (as defined by Florida law) before you can sue the other driver’s insurance company.
The problem is that most Florida motorists are not required to carry bodily injury liability insurance. Other options might be available, depending on the circumstances. Commercial truck drivers, for example, must carry extensive bodily injury liability insurance.
The Format of a Settlement Demand Letter
Your settlement demand letter should include the following elements:
- A description of the accident. Keep it simple here by providing only a very basic description. Providing too much detail could box you in.
- An explanation of why the defendant is at fault or otherwise liable for the claim. The defendant may have acted negligently, for example, or the defendant may be the employer of an employee whose misconduct caused the accident.
- A brief description of your injuries and property damage.
- A brief description of your losses (medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, etc.). Include both economic and non-economic damages.
- A demand for compensation. In many cases, this amount will equal the insurance policy limits. Talk to your lawyer about whether to include a specific dollar amount.
- You should include a deadline for a response only if you mean it. In most cases, it is best not to set a specific deadline for settlement at this point.
- Include all necessary documentation. Be concise, but include everything that is necessary, including full documentation of your injuries and lost earnings. You might also include, for example, statements of eyewitnesses.
If the recipient is an insurance company, the insurance company will send you a “reservation of rights” letter that will state that they are investigating your claim and that they reserve the right to deny it if it turns out to be invalid. This is routine.
Tip for Drafting an Effective Settlement Letter
Following are some tips for drafting an effective settlement demand letter:
- Be concise. Your letter might be 20-30 pages long if your claim is complex. Nevertheless, stay on point at all times.
- Be organized. Create an outline for your letter and examine it for logical consistency before you draft the text.
- Reread your letter to make sure you haven’t said anything that the opposing party can twist around to use against you.
- Be polite and professional.
Have your lawyer check over your letter and all supporting documentation before you send it. Better yet, have your lawyer draft the letter and select the documentation to include.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer to Send a Settlement Demand Letter?
If your claim involves a significant amount of money, you almost certainly need a lawyer to represent you. Find yourself an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help guide you through all parts of the claims process, from filing a claim and sending a demand letter to negotiating a settlement and initiating a lawsuit. Contact Perenich, Avril, Caulfield & Noyes to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.
Contact the Pinellas County Personal Injury Law Firm Of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg personal injury law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve in Pinellas County, and its surrounding areas:
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
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St. Petersburg, FL 33712,