In a personal injury case, sending a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company is one of your first courses of action to seek compensation. The letter’s purpose is to settle your claim without going to trial. It contains details of the accident and your injuries and explains why you are entitled to financial recovery. The demand letter serves as a starting point for negotiations, as the insurance company may respond by offering a settlement amount lower than what you expected. The carrier might also reject your claim altogether. In which case, you would have to take the matter to court.
Because the demand letter is your request for compensation to cover damages arising from your accident, it must be well-written, concise, and persuasive. An attorney can help draft your document, negotiate on your behalf, and stand up for you in court if necessary.
Sending a Demand Letter
Missouri is a fault state for accidents. That means the person responsible for causing the accident can be held financially accountable for the resulting losses and expenses. In most cases, injured parties seek financial recovery from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
To indicate that you are pursuing a settlement, you must send a demand letter to the other person’s insurance carrier. The document requests payment for injuries sustained and costs incurred because of the accident.
The Contents of the Demand Letter
The demand letter is not simply a statement indicating the dollar amount you expect to receive for damages. It is a detailed yet concise account of what happened, what damages you suffered, and why the insurance company should compensate you.
More specifically, the demand letter should contain information about:
- The date and time of your accident,
- The extent and severity of your injuries, and
- The facts showing that the company’s customer was at-fault for the accident.
The demand letter isn’t necessarily a lengthy document. However, it should include enough details to allow the adjuster to see why you are owed compensation.
You must support your arguments by also providing evidence, such as:
- Your medical records,
- Medical care documents,
- Repair bills,
- Photos or videos of the accident scene, and
- Wage statements.
Although you are requesting compensation from the insurance company, you might not want to initially include a settlement amount in your demand letter. Doing so could limit the financial recovery the carrier is willing to pay out. Rather, it may be more strategic to wait to see what the company offers after reviewing your demand.
The insurance company might propose a settlement amount below what you believe is fair. While this might be frustrating, it’s typically the way things go. Insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line and don’t want to hurt it by paying more than they have to.
You do not have to accept a low initial offer. You can use the amount as a starting point for negotiations and counter with a settlement you believe is fair.
How do you know what’s fair? You must determine the value of your case by evaluating the economic and non-economic damages you incurred. You must also understand the laws about recovering compensation from an at-fault party. A personal injury attorney can help with this. They can examine the facts and apply the correct statutes to determine how much your case is worth. They can also write up your demand letter and pursue a higher settlement amount if the insurance company’s initial offer is low.
Taking Your Case to Trial
What happens if you sent a well-written and compelling demand letter and your lawyer negotiated fiercely to seek just compensation, but the insurance company would not budge on the settlement amount or rejected your claim? You can take your case to trial.
At trial, your attorney and the insurance company would present their arguments before a judge or jury. The trier of fact would evaluate the evidence and decide whether you are entitled to a settlement and how much you should get.
Retain Legal Representation
Pursuing just compensation after an accident can be challenging. You must provide a demand letter clearly describing the facts and negotiate with the insurance company if it proposes a settlement below what is needed to cover damages. If you can’t resolve your case outside the courtroom, you may have to take it to trial.
An attorney can help through all stages of your case, relieving some of your burdens and allowing you to focus on your health.
To discuss your case with an experienced lawyer, contact Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. at (888) 398-2277. We serve those injured in Kansas City.