If you have been injured as a result of another person's negligence, and have sought the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, you may already know that personal injury cases may be thought of in terms of steps in a process. Once you have met with your attorney and started the ball rolling, your attorney will likely give you an overview of what to expect in the coming weeks or months, and you may have heard him mention the term "settlement."
A fair settlement is the desired outcome in most personal injury cases. Being offered a settlement means that you will likely receive your compensation a lot quicker than if your case has to go to trial, since litigation usually means a long drawn-out process of delays and postponements. Your attorney will begin the settlement process by sending the opposing party, and their insurance company, a demand letter. For more information on the demand letter and the settlement process, read on.
The demand letter.
This letter is a vital step in the settlement process, since it informs the other party about your injuries, your damages and, of course, your demands. A demand letter will include the following:
- Detailed information about the nature of your injuries.
- A complete listing of all medical care up to this point, and a prediction of any future medical treatments.
- A summary of the ways that the accident and injury has affected you and your family's lives.
- Reasons that the other party is at fault for the accident.
- The settlement amount you are requesting, which should be higher than the bottom line amount that you will actually accept. This will leave you some wiggle room for negotiating.
How the settlement demand is determined.
- Medical expenses, including an estimate of future expenses.
- Lost wages, which includes money you have already lost due to the accident and potential earnings for the future if you need time off for medical treatment. Note that you are entitled to be reimbursed for lost wages even if you were able to use sick leave or vacation pay for your days off.
- If your injuries are severe enough and you are left with a permanent disability, your lifetime future earnings should be included, based on your age, education level and current salary.
- Pain and suffering.
A well-crafted demand letter could result in an immediate settlement offer, but more often it is just the opening salvo for the negotiation process. A counter offer may follow your demand letter with an offer of less than your requested amount, and you and your attorney will decide how to best proceed. Keep in mind that taking a case to trial is time-consuming, expensive and physically demanding, especially for someone like you who may still be recovering from their injuries, so take that into consideration when evaluating an offer to settle.
A personal injury attorney's negotiation skills and experience will be vital to insure that you get a fair offer, and if necessary,a successful trial outcome. Contact a legal professional like Palmetto Injury Lawyers as soon as possible for a better chance at getting the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries.