How To Write a Settlement Demand Letter in Florida
Paul Brannon | February 24, 2023 | Personal Injury
Most personal injury claims end in settlement, not trial. One of the first actions that your attorney will take is to send the other side a settlement demand letter. It is unlikely that you will receive an answer to your settlement demand letter that simply says, “OK!” The purpose of a settlement demand letter is to kick off the negotiation process. Try to look at it as the starting line, not the finish line.
No two cases are exactly alike, and as a consequence there is room for flexibility concerning the basic format of your settlement demand letter. Nevertheless, try to include the following:
- A heading identifying the parties-–the injury victim and the at-fault party.
- The insurance policy and claim numbers.
- A short description of the accident that injured you-–include the date, the time, and the location.
- An explanation of why the other party is at fault, including the legal elements of your claim, such as duty, breach, causation, and damages.
- A detailed description of your injuries and any associated property damage.
- A brief description of your medical treatment.
- A summary of your total damages, including medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more.
- A demand for settlement.
Don’t let this list become a straightjacket; use it as a general guideline.
Observe the following tips if you are writing the settlement demand letter yourself. Your best bet, however, is to let your lawyer write it for you.
Keep It Brief, But Not Too Brief
Insurance adjusters deal with hundreds of claims every year. If your letter is too long-winded, the adjuster probably won’t read it all anyway. On the other hand, you don’t want to omit critical facts. Find a balance between brevity and completeness.
Don’t Ask for a Specific Amount Unless You’re Demanding Policy Limits
This advice is controversial, even among lawyers. Nevertheless, it is probably best to keep your options open in case new evidence surfaces later that raises the amount of your claim. You don’t want to paint yourself into a corner early on in the claims process. If you know you’re going to claim the limits of the insurance policy, however, it’s OK to say that right away.
Refer to Facts To Justify Your Claim
The insurance adjuster will scan your letter for relevant facts and screening out anything irrelevant. Include any facts that make your claim unique. If you are asking for insurance policy limits, including facts to justify this demand is particularly important.
Avoid Hyperbole and Overly Confrontational Language
Insurance adjusters have seen it all before. Bravado will just make you look like a playground
bully and will not inspire respect.
Claim All of Your Damages
Include both economic damages and non-economic damages, as well as past, present, and future damages. Claim intangible damages such as pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer can help you identify all of the damages you might qualify for. Don’t leave anything out.
Have Your Lawyer Review the Letter and Sign It
If your lawyer enjoys a strong track record of winning in court, the insurance adjuster will probably know about it. Nothing triggers an “attitude adjustment” in an insurance adjuster faster than a letter from a reputable personal injury lawyer.
Attach Supporting Documents
Attach supporting documents to bolster your claim. These might include:
- Any police or accident report;
- Copies of statutes or legal principles that apply;
- Photographs of the scene of the accident;
- Photos of your injuries;
- A transcript of witness interviews;
- Your relevant medical records (but only if they directly relate to your accident);
- Your medical bills; and
- Evidence of your income loss.
Include any other supporting documents that are important and relevant.
Let a Destin Personal Injury Lawyer Handle Your Case
An experienced Destin personal injury lawyer should have years of experience drafting settlement demand letters and negotiating the resulting personal injury claim. Selecting the right lawyer can multiply the ultimate value of your claim. Doing so is also almost risk-free, since most personal injury lawyers won’t charge you, even for an initial consultation, unless they win your case.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Northwest Florida
If you need legal assistance, contact the Destin personal injury lawyers at Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We have two convenient locations in Northwest Florida:
Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Destin Office
4507 Furling Ln Suite 214
Destin, FL 32541
Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Fort Walton Beach Office
975 Mar Walt Dr
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547