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Car Accident Demand Letters: Their Importance and Timelines

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It’s the goal of the insurance company to settle a car accident claim for as little as possible. A car accident victim in Charleston needs every resource available to them as they work to resolve their case quickly and for a fair amount. One important tool a car accident victim can use is a demand letter.

About Demand Letters

What is a demand letter?

A demand letter is a written statement sent by a car accident victim to an insurance company or party at fault for a car accident. It states the victim’s right to compensation, the amount they are requesting and the basis for the request. The demand letter asks the recipient to pay the requested amount to settle the car accident claim.

What is the purpose of a demand letter for car accident compensation?

The purpose of a demand letter is to prompt the insurance company or responsible party to resolve a car accident case on acceptable terms. It is to communicate clearly what the victim wants to receive in compensation and why. When effective, it can hasten satisfactory resolution of the car accident claim.

What should a demand letter contain?

A demand letter should contain the following:

  • Your name; the names of other parties involved
  • The date the accident occurred
  • The insurance claim number or the relevant insurance policy
  • Summary of what happened
  • Injuries you sustained
  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Property damage
  • Other financial losses sustained
  • The amount you are requesting in compensation, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering

While there are some things that should be included in every demand letter, an effective demand letter is specific to your case. It can be hard to know what information to offer and what you should strategically omit. Our lawyers can tailor your demand letter to your unique situation.

Tips for writing an effective demand letter

An effective demand letter is both technically sound and legally strategic. It must be specific without tipping your legal hand. It must be clear and state the facts. Here are some tips for writing an effective demand letter:

  • A demand letter should be typed. It should not be written by hand.
  • Begin with the facts, then state your losses and what you are seeking in compensation.
  • Don’t include emotion. Talk about your pain, suffering and mental anguish, but don’t be argumentative. Avoid using exclamation marks or all capital letters.
  • Clearly state what you want. State a specific amount rather than a range or simply stating “compensation.”
  • Don’t ask for too little or too much. Ask for the amount that you are owed under the law without underestimating or exaggerating.
  • Include a deadline. One or two weeks is typical. The deadline should be longer in cases that are especially complex.
  • Say that you will pursue legal remedies if necessary.
  • Carefully proofread your letter.
  • Sign the letter; include the date and your mailing address.

When your letter is ready, print it, sign it, and make copies. Send the letter certified mail with tracking and a required signature.

Settling Your Case Through a Demand Letter

When will a claim settle after sending a demand letter? When will a settlement be delayed after sending a demand letter?

Sending a demand letter may or may not result in an acceptable settlement offer.

When the claim is relatively straightforward in terms of liability and compensation due, a claim will often settle after sending a demand letter. The demand letter helps the insurance company arrive at an appropriate settlement by concisely detailing the case.

Sometimes, the case may be very strong, and the demand letter exceptional – but a fair settlement offer may still not arrive.

There may be many reasons: The insurance company may still be investigating. They may be acting in bad faith. If the case is for a high amount, or if fault is contested, the insurance company may be evaluating the likely outcome if the case heads to court. They may hope you’ll just give up. Remember, it is the goal of the insurance company to pay as little as possible.

Our lawyers can help you understand what factors may influence whether your claim will settle after sending a demand letter.

What can you do if you don’t like the response from a demand letter?

If you don’t like the response from a demand letter, there are multiple ways to respond. You may reply directly, or you may file a legal claim. Remember that the statute of limitations still applies even when you have sent a demand letter.

Always continue to preserve evidence and build the legal claim as you consider your next steps.

Demand Letters vs. Offer of Judgment

It’s important to note that a demand letter is not the same thing as an offer of judgment during a formal legal proceeding. While similar, there are some key differences.

South Carolina Court Rules authorize use of an offer of judgment as a formal settlement mechanism in a civil legal proceeding. An offer of judgment is a formal settlement offer. There are time frames for when a person may make an offer of judgment and how long the opposing party has to respond. If accepted, the court enters the judgment.

If the offer is rejected, and the person who made the offer gets a better verdict, the other party must pay a penalty:

  • Court costs from the offer date to entry of judgment
  • 8% interest from the offer date to entry of judgment, if the plaintiff made the offer
  • 8% reduction of the judgment calculated from the date of the offer to entry of judgment, if the defendant made the offer

While a plaintiff typically sends a demand letter, either the plaintiff or defendant may make an offer of judgment. Demand letters do not carry the same potential penalties as formal offers of judgment made pursuant to court rule.

Charleston Car Accident Lawyer for Writing Demand Letters

Our lawyers do everything we can to win your case, maximize your settlement and resolve your case as quickly as possible. That means knowing how to use the demand letter effectively.

When you choose Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney, you can feel confident your case is in good hands. Call us today for your free consultation.

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