Writing a demand letter to an insurance company may be the single most important process when filing a claim for damages and injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. Many people who have been victims of such accidents in Oregon will turn to a Portland personal injury lawyer for advice. Here we set out the important points to cover when you set about making a claim.
Portland Personal Injury Lawyers Advise: Stick to the Facts
Writing about the other driver’s obvious lack of intelligence whether or not this is the case will not further your cause. Start out by outlining and supporting with hard facts your situation as to:
- What injuries you received and the state of those injuries now
- Why the other person is legally responsible for your injuries
- What kind of medical treatment did you receive, and how much did it cost?
- The income that you lost (remember, supporting evidence is critical)
- Any other damages suffered
- If the other person had no insurance, state why you qualify to make a claim under no-fault auto insurance.
It’s also very important to remember when writing an insurance demand letter that you should conclude with a demand to the insurance company of a lump sum payment to settle your entire claim.
How Do I Start My Insurance Demand Letter? What Goes into the Demand Letter?
Start at the beginning; in other words, the accident itself. Review any notes, journals, letters, doctors reports, even your diary if you keep one, to remind yourself as precisely as possible of the pain, inconvenience and disruption to your life, in addition to the medical treatments you’ve received, and associated costs. Then, structure your letter into the following categories:
- Liability: Describe at the outset how the accident happened and why the other person was at fault. Explain where you were and what you were doing just before the accident happened. Be sure to mention if you have supporting witnesses or documentation to support your version of events.
- Comparative negligence: It’s certainly the case that not every accident is a black and white situation where one person is entirely at fault and the other utterly blameless. However, even if you think you may have been partially to blame, do not mention this in your demand letter. Frankly, it’s not your job to determine your portion of the blame. You can bear it in mind when deciding what to demand as a fair settlement, but only if and when an insurance adjuster brings up comparative negligence during settlement negotiations should the matter be discussed.
- Your injuries and treatments: A Portland personal injury lawyer will explain to you that, when writing an insurance demand letter, it’s not the time to be shy or stoic. Explain your pain in detail, and include the length of time it has taken to recover, if indeed you have recovered completely. Give precise examples of the negative effects your injuries have had on your daily life and what long-term consequences are in store, particularly if you are facing chronic and ongoing stiffness or soreness, or if you’ve been scarred or disfigured in some other way.
- Medical expenses: When writing your letter, include a complete list of each and every medical provider who saw you, and exact details of the total amount charged by each. Also, use the same medical terms the doctors would use, whenever possible. For example, speak of compression of vertebrae or narrowing of disk spacing as opposed to a really sore or sprained back.
- Lost income: Explain how much time you missed from work due to your injuries and/or treatments, and if at all possible, include a letter from your employer explaining how much pay you’ve lost. If you’re not in regular employment, show exactly how you’ve calculated the lost income figure at which you’ve arrived.
- Other losses: These could be for things like unusual embarrassments, inconveniences or additional losses caused by your injuries. Mention and support anything you think might be relevant in your demand letter.
How Much Is My Case Worth?: Coming up with your settlement demand figure
Conclude your insurance demand letter by asking for a specific sum of money as the total compensation for your pain, suffering, loss of income and any additional losses. A good Portland personal injury lawyer would advise that you request a figure that is actually higher by anywhere from 75% to 100%–than what you think your claim is actually worth. This is not to defraud insurance companies of money. It’s to give you room to negotiate with the insurance adjuster, who will almost certainly start with an offer that is considerably lower than what you think is fair. If your opening figure is the only one you’re willing to settle for, you’ve left yourself with no room for negotiating.
Once you’ve put together your comprehensive demand letter, make copies of all supporting documentation, including medical bills, police reports, hospital records and anything else that you feel will corroborate the points made in your letter. If you’re uneasy about writing the letter, or unsure whether you’ve written it correctly, it would be wise to contact an experienced Portland personal injury lawyer.