Negotiations to settle a personal injury claim typically begin with a demand letter. It is the initial contact a claimant makes with an alleged at-fault party in an attempt to resolve the case before filing a lawsuit.
An effective demand letter will be carefully crafted and include who you are, how you were injured, the damages you suffered, who is responsible for your damages, and the amount of compensation you demand. Before writing it, you will need an estimate of your case’s value, along with copies of supporting evidence, such as any photos of the scene and your injuries, medical bills and records, pay stubs or W-2, police reports, and eyewitness statements.
Sometimes, the language within a demand letter is enough to convince a party of the seriousness of the claim and successfully resolve a case. Other times, it will only be the beginning of a long negotiation process. However, working with an attorney to draft a demand letter will be your best chance at obtaining fair compensation, even if the insurance company sends a counter-offer. A lawyer can help with the entire process until the completion of your case. This includes reviewing your case to determine that you have identified the correct liable parties, an accurate estimate of its worth, and ensuring you have clear and convincing evidence that supports your allegations.
If you are the one that receives a demand letter from someone who believes you are legally responsible for their injuries, property damage, etc. While you technically can ignore a demand letter, the issue at hand will not simply disappear. Ignoring a demand letter can result in a lawsuit being filed and losing your ability to negotiate to resolve the claim. Instead, take it to an attorney so they may review it and can help you dispute the allegations of fault or assist you in negotiations to reduce your payment.
Once you serve a demand letter, most insurance companies try to respond within 30 days. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and there is no way to know precisely how long an answer or counter-offer will take since they do not have a deadline. The insurer can take as long as they want, but that doesn’t mean that you must wait to take legal action. If an appropriate amount of time has passed without a response, you and your attorney may choose to file suit. There is also the option of stipulating a time limit for a response in the demand letter. Keep in mind, insurance companies move slowly, and a settlement agreement cannot happen overnight. It would be wide to give the insurer a deadline of at least 14 to 30 days
If you feel you are in a situation where you need to send a demand letter, schedule a free consultation with a skilled St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer today.