Demand letters may be a necessary part of your car accident settlement process because they signal to the insurance company that you mean business. However, they can also add to the settlement timeline. Nonetheless, you should not hesitate to play hardball with the insurance company because they may run roughshod over you otherwise.
A demand letter is when you send the insurance company a letter laying out your case and demanding a certain amount of money to settle. The letter outlines the liability facts, describes the injuries, describes the medical treatment, and analyzes the legal issues and case value. At the end of the letter, the attorney will request a certain amount of money to settle the case. Your attorney will also attach all of the relevant evidence needed to support your injury claim.
Demand Letters Help Facilitate the Settlement Process
The average car accident settlement takes around 6-12 months from the time you file the claim. If you file a demand letter, it will help educate the insurance company about the claim and expedite the settlement process. After reading the letter and reviewing the attached evidence, the adjuster should have the support necessary to pay fair value on the claim.
People who send demand letters also usually get more money because the insurance company knows they will be sued if they don’t act fairly. Insurance companies like profits but do not like litigation because they must pay an insurance defense law firm to defend the case.
It is in your best interests to send the demand letter once you have completed medical treatment. To make a successful demand you must have support for the claimed injuries. The medical records will be critical in proving your injuries and medical expenses. Without these records, it will be nearly impossible to adequately settle your case.
How the Insurance Company May Respond to Demand Letters
The insurance company cannot drag out the process forever. They must at least acknowledge a written communication within a reasonable amount of time. If they unreasonably delay considering your claim, they can be sued.
The time to respond can depend on the insurance company. Some are better about getting back to you more quickly than others. Some of the worst insurance companies out there make delay part of their corporate tactics. It helps having an attorney who can file a lawsuit and force them to the table.
The insurance company usually takes a month or two to respond to your demand letter. There are three ways that they can respond:
- Deny your claim in its entirety.
- Make you a settlement offer, but one that is for much less than you have asked for.
- Pay you what you asked for (this rarely happens).
How to Deal With the Insurance Company
At this point, you are at a temporary impasse with the insurance company. You have two options for how to proceed. You can go directly to court and file a lawsuit against the defendant, which the insurance company will defend. Alternatively, you can continue to negotiate with the insurance company.
You can submit your own counteroffer, which may be lower than the initial amount that you demanded. It could take close to a year to go through the process of submitting offers and counteroffers until you reach a settlement agreement.
Although the North Carolina statute of limitations is longer than some other states, you would still want to keep an eye on the time limit, so you do not miss out on the right to file a lawsuit.
Call a Wilmington Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have suffered an injury in a car accident, the attorneys at Horton Mendez will work with you to obtain top dollar for your accident injuries.
You should call us as soon as possible after your accident so you are not at risk of the insurance company’s pressure tactics and the other tricks they use to cut down the amount of money they pay you. Call us today at (910) 668-8067 or message us online to schedule your free initial consultation.
Car Accident Case FAQs
How much will I need to pay a personal injury lawyer?
You would not need to pay your attorney anything upfront, nor would you need to pay anything unless you win your case.
How do I win a car accident case?
You would need to gather evidence that shows that the other driver acted unreasonably under the circumstances, meaning that you have proven negligence.