September 20, 2022 | Personal Injury
Many personal injury cases in Oklahoma City settle through negotiations with the other party’s insurance company. Your personal injury lawyer begins the negotiations by preparing and sending a settlement demand letter to the company.
Drafting a compelling demand letter takes experience and skill. However, a correctly drafted settlement demand letter can increase the chance that you receive the amount of money you desire to settle your personal injury claim.
What Is Included in a Settlement Demand Letter?
Each demand letter is customized for the case. You do not want to use a form letter because your case may have unique circumstances and factors that need to be highlighted in the letter.
Generally, most settlement demand letters include basic information such as:
- Identification of the parties involved in the dispute
- Summary of the facts of the case
- A detailed description of your injuries, including a discussion of any permanent impairments or disabilities you sustained
- The attorney’s legal analysis holding the other party liable for damages, including citations of relevant case law, statutes, and regulations
- An accounting of the damages you sustained, including documentation and evidence
- The amount you are willing to accept to settle the claim and release the parties from further liability
The insurance company reviews the demand letter and prepares a response. The company might accept the demand and pay the full amount you request. It could also deny the request outright.
However, in most cases, the insurance company issues a counteroffer. Because insurance companies often make a counteroffer, personal injury lawyers generally ask for an amount that exceeds the amount you are willing to accept for settlement. Doing so allows the attorney to have room to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.
Do’s and Don’ts for Drafting a Settlement Demand Letter
If you decide to write a demand letter, there are some things to keep in mind, including:
Use a Professional Tone Throughout the Letter
Your goal is to settle your personal injury claim. Therefore, your letter should be polite and professional. Even though you might be angry about being injured, the letter’s inflammatory or aggressive language will not benefit the settlement negotiations.
Instead, be concise and clear. Stick to the facts and reasons you believe you deserve a fair and equitable settlement amount.
Do Not Ask for a Specific Settlement Amount Without Consulting an Attorney
Individuals generally undervalue their damages when they do not hire a lawyer to handle their injury claim. They may not be aware that they can receive several types of damages, including:
- Economic damages, including medical bills, loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses, etc.
- Non-economic damages, including emotional distress, physical pain, and mental anguish
- Future damages for diminished earning potential, permanent impairments, future medical treatment, long-term nursing care, and a decrease in quality of life
If you demand less than your claim is worth, the insurance company will not tell you that you are undervaluing your damages. Instead, it might accept the settlement offer because it knows that it knows if you talk with a lawyer, it could be liable for a much higher amount.
Include Specific Details About Your Injuries
The insurance adjuster handles hundreds of cases a year. You need to make your case stand out so they take notice. While you do not want to lie or exaggerate, you want to paint a vivid picture of the extent of your damages.
Include details that help the claims adjuster understand the severity of your injuries and how the injuries have impacted your daily life. For example, your doctor said your back injury would never allow you to pick up your children or any child again. Your knee injury prevents you from running, and you were an avid runner who competed in marathons.
However, be careful not to provide any details or make statements that could be used to allege you contributed to the cause of the accident. If you do, the insurance company could drastically decrease the amount of your claim by alleging contributory fault.
Explain Why You Are Entitled to Compensation
Ensure that the claims adjuster understands that the other person is responsible for causing your injuries. Clearly state how the accident occurred and how the other party’s conduct caused your injury.
Again, be careful not to make statements that could be misinterpreted as accepting any portion of the blame for the accident. If you are unsure how to word the letter to avoid taking the blame, it would be wise to seek legal advice from an Oklahoma City personal injury lawyer instead of writing the demand letter yourself.
If the insurance company denies your demand or offers a much lower settlement amount, seek legal advice immediately. Oklahoma’s statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits. If you miss the deadline, you lose your right to pursue a legal claim for damages.
Contact the Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyers at McGuire Law Firm Today for Free Consultation
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