As your treatments for your personal injury wind down, the negotiations over your insurance settlement are just beginning. You will take the first step by writing a personal injury demand letter. This letter will form the basis for determining your settlement amount, so it is up to you to be professional, thorough, and convincing. Follow this advice for creating a demand letter that will get you the settlement you deserve.
Before you set yourself in front of a computer and start composing you need to get prepared. Your letter will cover your injuries from the time they were incurred to your latest treatment. You want to have all of the information fresh in your mind. Gather all documentation including doctor's letters and reports, medical bills, police reports, witness statements, and your personal injury journal. Review everything you have gathered. You will refer to these documents to add important information and details to your letter.
Composing the Letter
The Heading - Give your letter a professional look by beginning it with the right heading. This includes six parts:
- Your name, address, and contact information including phone numbers and an email address.
- The name of the insurance company, the name of the claims adjuster, and the address of the company
- The date
- A statement that says "FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY"
- The claim number, name of the insured, the date of loss, the name and birth date of the claimant
- A greeting addressed to the claim adjuster
The Body - This is where you present your strongest possible argument. It will cover several areas that will be considered when determining your settlement.
- Begin with a factual and detailed summary of the accident. Include where it occurred, what time it was, conditions such as lighting, traffic, etc. In this section you will include information telling why the insured is legally liable. Make reference to any supporting police or witness reports that you will include with your letter. You can refer to these as Exhibit A or Attachment A, etc.
- Do not admit to any fault or negligence on your part. It is the claim adjuster's responsibility to find and prove this if it exists. You can consider this when making your settlement demand, but do not include it in your letter.
- Give a detailed list of the injuries you incurred from the accident. Use medical terms to sound professional. Include any ongoing or long term treatment that will be required.
- This section should also include general damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and inconveniences and embarrassment that you have suffered because of your injuries.
- Provide a detailed list of your medical expenses.
- List your lost wages. This amount should include your hourly/salary wage as well as any bonuses or vacation days you missed earning because of your injury. Also include any sick days you used for recovery, as you should be compensated for them.
- You will want to support this information with documentation that you will include at the end of the letter. You should have 2 pieces of documentation:
- A doctor's report stating your inability to work and the amount of time that you are required to take off.
- A letter from your employer outlining your loss of wages. This should be written on company letterhead.
The Closing - You will end your letter in four parts:
- State the total amount of compensation you are demanding to settle your claim. Allow room for negotiation by listing a sum that is 75 to 100% higher than you are willing to settle for.
- Thank the adjuster for their time in reviewing your claim and set a time limit for their response. Thirty days is an acceptable amount of time.
- Use a closing term and sign your name.
- Make a list of attached documents.
Attachments - Make copies of all forms, reports, bills, etc. that you are using as supportive documentation. Do not send the originals. Label the attachments as you have referred to them in the body of your letter.
A strong and convincing demand letter is imperative to receiving a fair settlement. Make sure you take the time to be thorough, include details, be honest, and proofread carefully. Before submitting your letter, have your personal injury lawyer review it.
Check out sites like http://www.attorneyinjury.com/ for more info.