What is a Demand Letter in a Personal Injury Case?

Negotiations in a personal injury claim start once a personal injury attorney sends a demand letter to the insurer outlining why their client is eligible for compensation and how much they are entitled to recover. If the insurance company agrees to the demands, the case can be settled and the attorney secures financial compensation for their client. Insurance companies, however, try to avoid substantial payouts whenever possible. Many of them will investigate your accident and collect evidence they can use to indicate you are liable for your own injuries. In the event that the policyholder is liable for the collision, insurance companies rarely offer the full coverage available. Rather, they offer a lowball settlement and hope you accept. Fortunately, with more than five combined decades of experience, a Chesapeake personal injury lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help you avoid this situation. Call us today to schedule your free case review. 

What Is a Demand Letter?

In the context of personal injury cases, a demand letter is a letter drafted by an attorney on behalf of their client. It is a legal document submitted to the counterparty in a personal injury claim that specifies the exact dollar amount sought in a settlement. It summarizes all information pertinent to the case, such as:

  • The extent of the victim’s injury and its impacts on their life
  • The settlement amount demanded from the insurer
  • The location, time, and date of the incident
  • An explanation of the events surrounding the accident 
  • Why the policyholder is liable 
  • The timeline of the victim’s injuries, including treatment, long-term care plan, and current progress toward recovery
  • The sum of the damages incurred by the victim

In most cases, an attorney will draft and submit a demand letter once their client is fully recovered. If continued care is required, as is usually the case with serious or catastrophic injuries, your attorney can include information about your future medical treatments and their estimated cost in the demand letter. 

Along with the letter, your attorney will also include evidence that supports your claim, such as: 

  • Diagnostic test results, physical therapy records, operative reports, and other medical records
  • Pictures and videos from the scene of your accident
  • Traffic cam or dash cam footage of the accident if available
  • A copy of the police or incident report
  • Medical bills, receipts, invoices, and other proof of damages  

How Does the Insurance Company Respond to a Demand Letter?

Once they receive the demand letter from your Chesapeake personal injury lawyer, the insurer will take time to review it. The only thing for you to do is wait for a reply.

Insurance companies conduct independent investigations. They will study the evidence submitted by your lawyer and work to obtain their own. A lot of evidence, unfortunately, is open to interpretation, so the insurance company may disagree with your lawyer’s explanation of the evidence and its proof of liability.

After the demand letter is sent, one of three outcomes will present itself: 

  • The demand will be accepted: If they agree with the terms of the letter and the damages sought, the insurer can accept the demand
  • A counteroffer will be made: The insurer may make your lawyer a counteroffer to the demanded financial compensation. This sets the stage for negotiations until a settlement is reached or your lawyer determines further action will be necessary
  • The claim will be denied: If the insurance company denies your claim, filing a lawsuit should be the next step

How Long Until I Can I Expect a Settlement?

Your Chesapeake personal injury lawyer will request that the insurer carrier reply to the demand letter by a certain date. This is meant to give them ample time to review the letter and its contents and respond. Regrettably, not every insurance carrier will respond by the requested deadline and some will not respond at all. Since there are multiple factors that can play a role in how long the settlement process could take, you should not expect your claim to be settled by a specific time. Additionally, if an acceptable settlement is unable to be reached and you end up going to court, it will take considerably longer.  

Practicing Personal Injury Law Since 1985

The Chesapeake personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have decades of experience in handling a variety of personal injury cases. If you were injured due to another person’s negligence, we can help you protect your rights, gather evidence, prove liability, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. Using these methods, we were able to achieve a $1 million settlement for a warehouse worker who was permanently injured by a negligent forklift driver. To schedule your free consultation, call (833) 997-1774 or fill out our quick contact form. To better serve our clients from all over Virginia, we have offices in Chesapeake, Hampton, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach.