The days and months after a car accident can be difficult for someone with serious injuries. You are hurting. You are dealing with doctor appointments and medical bills. Maybe you hire an attorney to help with your claim.
If you hire an attorney to deal with the insurance company, you may not be familiar with the behind the scenes process. However, the personal injury demand letter is an important part of the process. Trust me, the quality of those letters (and often the amount of your later settlement) can vary tremendously between lawyers.
Let’s say you hire one of the guys on television or billboards promising quick cash for your wreck. Many of those billboard lawyers do a couple things that actually reduce the value of your case. First, many of them have arrangements with a local chiropractor. In the end, you will face an inflated medical charge that you must reimburse out of your settlement. The net to you is less. Second, many of them do not want to work their cases. Call it laziness if you want. But, their idea of a settlement letter is to compile your bills with a short letter inviting an offer. Come on. Put some work into it!
The demand letter is a critical piece. A lawyer who studies and prepares can make a huge difference at every stage, including this one. What kind of opening letter do you want to send to the insurance company? How do you want to start the process? What impression do you want to make? We believe the impression should be one of preparedness and readiness.
Why Is Your Personal Injury Demand Letter Important?
We think this letter is very important. We spend considerable time studying and outlining our case. In many cases, we even include medical research and accident investigation information. Why is the demand letter important? Here are three quick reasons:
- It provides the information and details needed by the adjuster to increase settlement offers.
- It sends the message that you and your lawyer are willing and able to take the next steps if the insurance offer is not fair.
- It helps the lawyer study, prepare and outline the case so he or she is ready to prepare it for trial.
When the billboard or television lawyer simply sends the medical bills with a one or two sentence letter, critical information is omitted. How can you expect the adjuster to consider important details about the crash if information is omitted? How can you expect the adjuster to take your claim seriously if your lawyer does not?
What should you include in your settlement demand letter? At our firm, we start by organizing our letter to tell a story – the client’s story. We spend lots of time talking with our clients to understand their story. Unfortunately, some lawyers never speak with their clients. How can they possibly understand a client’s full injuries? How can they ever convey fully their client’s suffering or disability? The demand letter needs to tell the client’s story. To tell that story, the lawyer must communicate with his or client and develop the case long before the letter is written.
We also include key details we want the adjuster to factor into any offer. We outline (in detail) the injuries and medical care. Sometimes, we prepare and include medical research or illustrations. We include the information and details concerning losses such as medical bills, wage losses, functional impairments, disability, pain and suffering. Needless to say, a good demand letter requires study and preparation. Simply throwing together medical records for the adjuster is NOT sufficient. Yet, this is what so many billboard lawyers do.
If you want to try and get the best offer possible from the insurance company, your demand letter needs to be written well. Even if you cannot settle the case at this stage, a well-written and detailed demand letter focuses your lawyers on studying all aspects of your file. It prepares them for the next step. Preparation and continuous study build better cases at every stage.
When Is An Attorney Needed For Your Personal Injury Case?
If you have read some of my other articles, you know my opinion that you don’t need a lawyer for every car accident. If you had a minor accident or simply an ER visit, you probably do not need an attorney. If the other driver is clearly at fault, most insurance companies will pay for a simple emergency room expense. Billboard and television lawyers do not tell you this because they know they can quickly settle those cases with a phone call (taking a third of your small settlement). However, if you suffered a more serious injury or required treatment beyond the ER, a skilled personal injury lawyer may be able to help. In those cases, a good personal injury lawyer may be able to add significant value to your ultimate recovery.
From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm handles serious personal injury cases across Alabama.