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Writing a settlement demand letter

If there's one hard and fast rule of car accident claims, it's that you don't get anything unless you ask for it.

If you've been the victim of a car accident, you can't expect the other driver's insurance company to step forward and offer you a fair amount of compensation. Instead, you have to write a demand letter that summarizes your injuries, the basis of your claim and how much money you want for your losses. A well-written demand letter can mean the difference between a satisfactory end to your claim and a frustrating experience that ends in a lawsuit.

The basics of any personal injury demand letter include:

  • A brief statement of the facts surrounding the car accident. Keep it short and factual, without personal attacks. You don't want to make the other side defensive when you're negotiating.
  • An explanation of why you believe the other driver is responsible for the accident. For example, if the other driver violated the law by running a red light and you have the police report and witness statements to prove it, be clear about how the blame rests on his or her shoulders alone.
  • Tally up the amount of medical expenses you incurred as a result of treatment. Include copies of all the bills for reference, a list of medical providers and the dates of service.
  • Write a summary of your other losses, including lost time from work, the inconvenience of having to attend chiropractic care three times a week for several months, the cost of tickets you had to events you couldn't attend and so on.
  • Write out a detailed explanation of your injuries with a focus on the most severe ones. In particular, make sure that you discuss any permanent injuries you have, like scars.
  • Ask for the amount of money that you think is fair for compensation. Make sure that you ask for compensation for your pain and suffering. In general, your total amount of medical expenses is usually multiplied by a figure ranging from 1.5 to 5 in order to calculate pain and suffering.

Expect the claims examiner to get back to you within two weeks with some kind of response. If you aren't happy with the offer, it may be time to talk to a personal injury attorney about a lawsuit instead.

Source: FindLaw, "Writing Demand Letters to Settle Personal Injury Claims?," accessed July 27, 2017

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