The claims process is arduous, and you have enough on your plate as a car accident victim with medical treatments and returning to daily life. Some injuries can heal within weeks or months, while others have no path to recovery. Once you reach maximum medical improvement, the next step is to get compensation.
Unfortunately, the process is not straightforward, and one of the critical steps to compensation recovery is sending the insurance company a demand letter. Victims can write and send a demand letter independently or work with a local car accident lawyer to craft one.
How Do I Handle Expenses?
A vital component of a demand letter is to include all relevant expenses. You must first gather out-of-pocket expenses, receipts, and medical treatment costs. Claimants must begin collecting this information when they incur expenses after an accident since it is challenging to look back through records.
The insurance company bases settlement offers on costs incurred from an accident and the evidence that shows those expenses. You must make copies and store these in a folder designated for your car accident.
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What Are the Facts?
Victims need to start with the facts of the accident when crafting a demand letter. The ideal way to present the facts to the insurance company is to pretend they know nothing about the accident. Craft the explanation as if you were speaking to someone without medical or legal knowledge.
Explain where you were during the collision, like street names, traffic signals, and direction of travel. The crash report will include the exact time, date, and street name. You can also include the at-fault driver’s information and any citations given. Include witnesses’ statements and information.
Do I Include My Perspective?
Accident victims should also include their perspective on the incident in the demand letter. Include details about what you remember from the incident and the pain you felt at the scene and immediately following the collision. Medical records will show the diagnosis of your injuries, but the only party privy to what happened in the car is the vehicle’s occupants.
It is essential to outline the serenity and location of your pain.
What Do I Say About Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering are contentious topics because these issues are subjective. The insurance company wants tangible evidence and losses. Medical records outline medical treatment but not your emotional pain.
Victims must ensure the adjuster understands how the injury impacts their life and makes them feel. One method is to use a pain journal that outlines daily restrictions. Emotional trauma, loss of consortium, and overall lower quality of life are relevant and must be addressed in a demand letter.
How Do I Address My Road to Recovery?
Recovery is different for everyone, and while there are common injuries, how a person’s body responds to the injury will vary. When discussing your recovery, start from the beginning, at the accident scene. If a paramedic arrived, discuss what services they provided and if there was an ambulance transport.
Victims must also include all the medical care they receive until they reach maximum medical improvement. It is essential to include dates and information about who treated you and what the treatment entailed.
It is essential to include every medical treatment and doctor visit in the demand letter to show insurance adjusters the severity of the injury. If the injury requires ongoing care, future treatment must also be included in the demand package. Any future prognosis is vital to calculating losses and expenses.
How Do I Calculate a Reasonable Settlement Amount?
Losses with receipts or other tangible documentation are the basis of the claim, but victims must also include non-economic damages. Pain and suffering damages should be calculated by multiplying the cost of tangible losses.
It is vital to find a middle ground when calculating damages. A high amount can make the adjuster ignore the demand and not take the claim seriously, and a low amount will benefit them, leaving the insurer with more money.
How Do I Address Liability?
The insurance company will harp on injury severity or fault when reviewing claims. Within the demand letter, you must address how the other party is legally responsible for the collision, injuries, and damages. Victims must prove the other party was negligent and why they’re not responsible for the accident.
How Long Should the Demand Letter Be?
The length of your demand letter must correlate with the size of your claim. Claims worth millions will require longer demand letters than claims that warrant tens of thousands. Finding the sweet spot is essential because the insurance company will respond accordingly.
Should I Threaten a Lawsuit?
Refrain from demanding a case resolution within a specific period because the adjuster will call your bluff. You can address your intent to file a lawsuit but do not specify within what period you will take this action. You can place a deadline if you work with a personal injury lawyer, but when writing a letter independently, refrain from deadlines.
Should I Review My Demand Letter?
When the demand letter is thoroughly written, it is critical to review it and ensure the correct language is used so that the adjuster can understand your losses. Make a checklist of items to look for when reviewing your letter, and ensure everything is accurate in the letter.
It is also essential to provide documentation of everything stated in the demand letter for the insurance company to review. When you are confident in your demand letter, mail it out.
Do I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Demand Letter?
There Is no formal requirement to employ a lawyer to write a demand letter, but it is advisable. Hiring a lawyer with the sole purpose of crafting a demand letter but not for other services is more costly over the long term than hiring them to handle the entire case. A local personal injury lawyer can also ensure the appropriate language, calculations, and facts are in the demand letter.
John Foy & Associates can help claimants craft demand letters and represent them through the claim process. Schedule an initial consultation by speaking to our office.