Your demand letter is your most powerful negotiating tool. Learn how we construct it to position your case in the strongest way possible.
Your demand letter is possibly the most critical tool in the settlement negotiations process.
Don’t worry – you won’t be writing it. Your personal injury attorney will, because it’s critical to present all the facts and circumstances in a way that positions you well.
We’re not talking about manipulation or exaggeration here. This is a settlement tool we need to use on your behalf to make sure you don’t get run over by the insurance company.
Once we’ve compiled all the information and facts about your injury case (all medical bills and records, any necessary witness affidavits, etc.), we can create your demand letter.
Here are some tactics that might be used to craft the strongest possible demand letter on your behalf:
The Individual Facts of Your Case
The insurance company will always look at the facts in a different way than you do. However, it’s important to spell out all the facts out and discuss the evidence supporting them. Stating the facts in a clear, concise, and convincing manner simplifies the legal issues involved in the claim and can limit the other side’s attempts to minimize liability or to argue comparative negligence.
Certain facts can greatly impact the applicable law. For example, in a premises liability case what you were doing on someone else’s land at the time of the accident can greatly impact your likelihood of recovery. Documents that support your version of the event (such as a favorable Police Report in a car accident case) should obviously be utilized to support your position.
Discuss the Potential Costs to The Insurer
Remember, insurance companies are all about the money at the end of the day. So, they’re going to do what makes most financial sense to them.
Part of the strategy of a demand letter may be to show them how settling your case at your requested amount costs them less than going to trial. Court costs, the defense lawyer’s estimated fees , experts costs, and employee time costs may all get factored in.
Show How Law Supports Your Position
Insurance companies know the law well. Remember, they pay politicians and build relationships with them to keep the law written in their favor.
Part of your demand letter will involve stating where Texas law supports you. Legal issues can include liability, causation of damages, and even insurance coverage issues.
It is important that you work with injury attorneys that have the time and experience to apply the individual facts of your case to the applicable law as opposed to an assembly line approach where demand letters are churned out in mass by “case handlers.”
Present the Insurance Company’s Opportunity for Gain
This sounds a little strange at first, doesn’t it? But, hear us out for a second. Research done by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky revealed people, including high-power employees at insurance companies, act like this:
- They are more willing to take a risk (go to court) when faced with a moderate-high-probability of suffering a loss
- When they have a moderate-to-high probability of obtaining a gain, they’re generally afraid to take a risk (this information appears in the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors on page 40)
So, by formulating the letter as presenting your Dallas personal injury claim as a situation to gain money – by settling for less than the cost to go to court – your chances of winning your settlement improve.
Interesting how human minds work, isn’t it?
These are just a few of the tactics Mullen & Mullen uses to maximize the recovery for our clients.
In a recent 25 page settlement demand we sent out on behalf of an injured construction worker our demand included: voluminous medical records and bills, photographs of the client’s injuries, 3D Imaging of his injuries, functional ability report completed by a neurosurgeon, vocational rehabilitation report, safety expert report, and timeline/medical literature prepared by a certified legal nurse consultant / medical examiner.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years (since 1983). Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.