Persuasive Settlement Demand Packages for Personal Injury Cases
A personal injury attorney can secure compensation from an insurer in two ways: a trial or a settlement. A trial can be costly and time-consuming, which is why it is treated as a last-resort option. The first step for any
personal injury case should be seeking a settlement, and a settlement demand package is what sets this process rolling. Since a persuasive settlement demand paper can expedite the client's compensation, it is essential to
understand the do's and don'ts when creating an effective demand package. This is what will be covered by this guide.
The components of a settlement demand package
Regardless of the case specifics, every demand package for personal injury cases should include the following components.
- Describe the specific situation that led to the injury
Before committing to a personal injury case, an attorney must conduct an independent investigation of the client's claims. This aids in establishing how strong the client's case is and provides the knowledge
base from which the case details can be outlined in the demand package.
The key to having an effective case summary is making it both concise and comprehensive. Straightforward in that you only include details that are relevant and verifiable. Complete in that you don't overlook any relevant information
that would aid the client's case.
- Place legal responsibility on the other party
Having explained how the claimant came to be injured, you now need to explain why the other party is legally responsible -- and why your client bears no legal responsibility.
- Outline all the injuries received
The settlement demand package must provide a comprehensive summary of all the injuries incurred by the claimant. Most, if not all, cases that necessitate a personal injury case involve some form of hospitalization or medical care.
Use copies of medical records to verify the stated injuries.
- Itemize the damages that need to be compensated
There are two types of damages concerning personal injury cases: economic (special) and non-economic (general damages).
Economic damages are easy to verify and quantify. They include medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs linked to the injury, and lost income (including losses from missed financial opportunities). These can be verified by
receipts and other forms of official documentation.
Non-economic damages include pain, suffering, and emotional distress. They are much harder to quantify, although medical records and personal journals can be used for verification purposes.
- Include witness accounts
A persuasive settlement demand package needs to show your case's strength if it goes to trial. You need to convince the insurer that they might lose more in a trial than you demand in the settlement.
Include the names and statement summaries of any witnesses to the injury incident; economic costs incurred, emotional anguish, and pain and suffering.
- Lump sum compensation demand
The demand package needs to have the total amount you are requesting as the client's settlement for all the damages incurred. This can make or break your settlement demand.
If the demand is too high, the insurer might be scared off the negotiation process and opt to go straight to trial. If it is too low, it might indicate that you are not confident in the strength of your case, leading the insurer to
lowball their counteroffer.
- Offer deadline
Your settlement demand letter should end with a response deadline, after which you will file a court case. 30 days is usually a reasonable deadline for an insurer to review your offer, carry out their investigation and respond.
What to avoid when drafting a settlement demand letter
- Being overly aggressive
You should adopt a professional tone in your demand package. Using exaggerated threats, emotional language, and "fire and fury" rhetoric only shows your opponents that they might be dealing with incompetent adversaries.
You can communicate the seriousness of your claim without compromising your professionalism.
- Setting a deadline you can't keep
You should always be prepared to initiate legal proceedings if your opponents do not respond within the deadline. You can still negotiate a settlement while legal proceedings are ongoing. Failing to see through your threat
of legal action is a sign of weakness that insurers will leverage to lowball any future offers.
Responding to counteroffers
You should have already discussed with your client the 'bare minimums' you are willing to accept in the settlement negotiations process. Of course, these minimum thresholds need to be reasonable if the negotiations are
going to be successful.
If the insurer isn't ready to meet them, you should communicate as such before filing a case. Being reasonable and communicative in the settlement negotiation process is an effective way to prove your good faith intentions during
Sending the settlement demand letter and counteroffers
Ensure you maintain a verifiable paper trail in all your communications with your opponents. Use registered mail for your initial demand and subsequent counteroffers, enabling tracking and delivery confirmation. Always
maintain a copy of all official letters you send during the negotiation process.
The key to ensuring your settlement demand letter presents a solid case for insurers is that the case details and damages are verifiable. If the insurance investigators find inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your claims, your chances
of success are significantly diminished.
Be reasonable in your demands during the negotiation process and maintain a verifiable paper trail in all your official communication. Most importantly, you should be ready to initiate legal proceedings if the negotiations ultimately