Jason Stephens | December 14, 2020 | Personal Injury
When you have been injured in a car crash, workplace accident, or any other accident, seeking financial compensation can be challenging. When you are trying to secure the full amount from the insurance provider, one important step is drafting an effective settlement demand letter. The purpose of this document is to make the most compelling case possible that you deserve compensation.
A settlement demand letter is designed to make the strongest case possible for why you deserve appropriate financial recovery. You can find countless articles online giving advice on how to write a settlement demand letter. Some websites even offer pre-made demand letter templates for you to fill out with your specific information.
At best, most of the information on these websites is useless. At worst, taking bad advice or using a low-quality template can undermine your claim making it less likely that you will secure financial compensation.
Here, you’ll find a few tips to help you ensure that your settlement demand letter is as effective as possible.
Don’t Make the Letter Too Long
When you are filing a claim for more than a million dollars, it is important to include as many details and specifics about your case as possible. This means that when a case is legitimate and involves a very large amount of money, the corresponding settlement demand letter will be long. An insurance provider will be eager to examine the details of any claim that has the potential to involve a large payout.
But the letter should be concise if you are demanding compensation for a personal injury claim of $10,000 or less and your injury hasn’t resulted in permanent disability. In the case of small or moderately sized claims, the insurance company is unlikely to examine any details beyond the medical records of your injuries or treatments.
It is understandable that an inexperienced claimant might draft an overly long letter. While this will not help your case, it might not necessarily undermine your claim. However, a legal professional should never make the mistake of submitting a settlement demand letter that is longer than the claim requires.
If an attorney submits a letter that is too long or too detailed, the insurance company may presume that they are inexperienced. The provider might then take your case less seriously, assuming that further legal action is unlikely.
This can weaken your case. If the insurance company believes that you or your attorney do not present a threat to them, they will probably offer a lowball settlement.
Highlight the Most Important Factors in Your Case
The primary audience for your settlement demand letter will be an insurance adjuster who sees a large volume of claims cases every day. Because claims adjusters see so many demand letters, it is important to make yours stand out. An excellent way to do this is to highlight the factors in your case that make it valuable.
For instance, did your injury cause you to miss an important family event, such as a graduation, funeral, or wedding? Does your injury make it impossible for you to engage in certain hobbies or activities that were important to you before your accident? Be sure to include concise and specific descriptions of all the ways your injury has affected you.
Write clearly about what makes your claim valuable without burying the important factors in a long and drawn-out letter. Explain one or two of the most important factors of your claim in a clear and concise way.
Additionally, incorporate different formatting for the key points that you make. Use editing tools like bold words, underlined text, or italics to draw the adjuster’s eye to the information that is most pertinent. Use these tactics sparingly. Again, highlight one or two of the crucial points in your case.
Don’t Demand a Specific Amount (Usually)
Although there is an exception to this tip (discussed in the next section), it is usually a mistake to demand a specific amount in your letter. If you are inexperienced in the claims process, you may accidentally undermine your claim.
Demanding an inappropriate or unreasonable amount, by either overestimating or underestimating the value of your injury, will hurt your case. Demanding an amount that doesn’t make sense will signal to the insurance provider that you are inexperienced.
They will assume that any settlement amount will do and will offer you less than they would otherwise. Allowing the insurance provider to specify an amount first will put you in a better position.
Demand the Full Policy Limit
While it’s usually not a good idea to name a specific amount in your settlement demand letter, there is an exception to this rule of thumb. If you have enough experience to know that your case is worth an amount close to the policy limit, you should demand the full amount covered by the policy.
If you take this approach, it is important to make your demand subject to certain contingencies that you can control. This way, you will not be locked into that precise amount.
Do Not Use Aggressive Language
Filling your demand letter with threats or hostile language will undermine your claim and make it less likely that you will receive the payments that you are due. Without the advice of an experienced attorney, never mention the possibility of punitive damages in your demand letter.
Pursuing punitive damages is not an option in every claims case. Mentioning this possibility could reveal your legal ignorance and cause the insurance provider to not take you seriously.
The adjusters who review settlement demands read many heated and hyperbolic claims letters every day. Using aggressive language is an ineffective strategy that won’t increase the likelihood of securing compensation. Claimants and lawyers who rely on exaggerations and empty threats do not present a serious challenge to insurance providers. And they know it.
Your settlement demand letter should show that you are sensible, knowledgeable, and determined. Include the most relevant and convincing reasons that you deserve financial compensation. Trying to scare or threaten an insurance company will be ineffective, at best. It has the potential to undermine your case.
Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured and need to draft a settlement demand letter, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer. A skilled attorney will examine your case and assist you in drafting a letter that is appropriate and effective. This will give you the best chance of securing the compensation that you deserve.