When you’re injured in an accident, there’s a good chance that there’s going to be an insurance company involved in the claims process. If you can convince the insurance company to fairly compensate you for your losses under the terms of the insurance policy, you can resolve your case without having to take your case through formal litigation.
One of the critical components of negotiating your settlement is writing a demand letter. Your best chance of getting the compensation you need to recover is by working with an experienced personal injury attorney when drafting your demand letter. Here’s what you should know about writing a formal demand letter.
What Is a Demand Letter?
A demand letter is a letter that you send to the insurance company. It states your claim in plain and unambiguous terms. The letter says what kind of payment you’re looking for and goes into some detail to justify your settlement demand.
What Should I Include in My Demand Letter?
- Background: Begin by stating that an accident occurred. Briefly describe when and where the accident occurred. Identify the parties involved.
- Fault: State that the other party is at fault for the accident. Say why they’re at fault.
- Your losses: List all of your losses by category. Include your medical losses, income losses, and property damage. Your attorney can help you figure out what types of damages you can claim.
- Insurance policy: Identify the insurance policy that applies. State why it applies.
- Demand: Clearly state the amount of money that you want as a lump sum payment to resolve the case.
- Supporting documents: Attaching documents that back up your claims may be helpful in making a convincing case. An attorney can help you determine when it’s best to attach documents and when you should save the information for later.
How Can I Make Sure My Letter Is Effective?
To ensure your letter is effective, it’s crucial to have a clear picture of your damages. You should learn about all of the different types of damages that you can recover for in a Nevada injury case. That way, you can make sure that you don’t leave valuable money on the table as you begin negotiations.
It’s also important to keep your letter organized. Helping the insurance representative understand your position with a clear and concise letter can allow them to see things from your point of view.
How Do I Strike the Right Tone for My Demand Letter?
Your demand letter should be formal and professional. It shouldn’t be angry, and it shouldn’t be friendly. Even though your accident is emotional to you, the insurance company views it as just another day at work.
Try to strike a professional tone with your demand letter. Avoid name calling and anger, but don’t be apologetic or forgiving, either.
What If I May Have Been Partially at Fault?
Even if you think that you may be partially at fault for your accident, don’t admit it in your demand letter. What you say in your demand letter may be a statement against interest and admissible in court. If you say things that are harmful to your case, the insurance company may be eager to use your comments against you.
In Nevada, rules of comparative negligence apply to personal injury claims. If you did something to contribute to the accident, your recovery might be reduced. However, you may still be able to recover something. It’s best not to discuss comparative negligence or shared fault in your demand letter. Allow the insurance company to reach their own conclusions and decide what they’re willing to pay. Simply state the fault of the other party and the amount you’re looking for in recovery.
Should I Overstate My Demands?
Sometimes, it’s helpful to ask for a little bit more than you’re really hoping for. It’s typical for the insurance company to assume you’re willing to settle for less than you ask for at first. However, don’t grossly overstate the amount you’re looking for.
Asking for way too much can make the insurance company assume that negotiations are going to be hopeless. Your attorney can help you strike the right balance between asking for too much and asking for too little when you write a demand letter.
What’s the Purpose of a Demand Letter?
The goal of a demand letter is to resolve your case as quickly as possible. It’s a tool that you can use to approach the insurance company to ask them to settle the case. Even though it’s titled a demand letter, it’s actually a piece of formal negotiations between you and the insurance company.
Insurance companies carefully weigh their options. If litigation is going to be expensive and you have a strong case, the insurance company might conclude that it’s in their best interests to pay you fairly for your losses. When the insurance company can see what you’re asking for and why, they might agree to pay you an amount that you believe is fair.
What Are the Possible Outcomes of a Demand Letter?
The insurance company receives and reviews your demand letter. They might respond to the letter in a number of ways. They can do nothing. If they don’t respond at all, your attorney may help you place follow-up phone calls to the insurance company. It may also be time to bring your claim in court formally.
On the other hand, the insurance company may agree to pay you what you’re asking for. If that’s the case, your attorney works with the insurance company to draft the final paperwork to collect your payment and release the claim. Your attorney works carefully to make sure that your interests are protected during the process of finalizing your payment.
Another way for the insurance company to respond is by sending a counter offer. They might agree to pay you something but less than you’re looking for. Sometimes, their counter offer is going to be far less than you can get by going through the formal legal process. In other cases, the counter offer is a reasonable way to resolve the matter quickly given the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Your injury attorney can help you evaluate a counter offer to see if it’s in your best interests to accept the offer or continue to pursue the case.
How an Injury Attorney Can Help
A demand letter is a critical piece of settlement negotiations with the insurance company after an accident. Your attorney can help review your personal injury claim to determine the best strategy for success. They will help you carefully draft your demand letter in a way that’s complete and calculated to be effective.