How to Write a Settlement Demand Letter in Texas
If you’ve been injured in an accident and are struggling financially, you may be wondering how to proceed. If your injuries resulted from someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you can take legal action to recover compensation for your damages.
A personal injury claim is typically initiated by sending a demand letter to the at-fault party or their insurance company. This begins the negotiation process, which could lead to settlement or litigation.
Below, we discuss how to write a settlement demand letter in Texas and things to avoid.
Tips For Writing an Effective Demand Letter
The goal of a legal demand letter is to settle your claim against the opposing party. The letter should make it clear that you are preparing to take legal action against them if your demands aren’t met or at least reasonably considered.
A successful Texas settlement demand letter will:
- Establish the facts of your case: A simple explanation of what happened, how you were harmed, and the recipient’s connection to the incident is a strong start. The person reading your demand letter will usually have no idea who you are or why you are writing. Let them know, in detail, what happened and what you expect to happen next.
- Be persuasive: In addition to the facts, a settlement demand letter will explain that you know how your claim can translate into a legal verdict in your favor. Showing the recipient that you know where you stand legally and what you are entitled to will motivate them to consider your demands and respond with a settlement offer.
- Itemize damages: These can include actual expenses and costs – such as medical bills and property damage – and other damages, such as pain and suffering.
- Highlight what is different about your case: Some groups – especially insurance companies – receive hundreds of settlement demand letters every day. These letters often get the same attention – little to none – because they are vague, badly worded, and don’t explain what sets their case apart. Your settlement demand letter should stand out from the rest and explain clearly why they must respond to you as soon as possible.
- Set a deadline and expectations for payment: Including a fair deadline and range of expectations for payment will give the other side something to consider. You will also make it clear what your next steps are, legally, if they do not respond.
In addition to outlining the dispute, your legal argument, and your losses, a demand letter creates a paper trail that could be helpful in the future (e.g., for a bad faith insurance claim).
What To Avoid When Drafting a Settlement Demand Letter
An ineffective settlement demand letter can hurt your personal injury case.
Below is a list of things to avoid; you should not:
- Be rude or threatening: A demand letter that is aggressive and abusive toward the recipient will not generate a kind response – or any response at all. A demand letter is adversarial by nature but should also be polite and respectful.
- Exaggerate claims or inflate demands: Demanding $2 million as a starting figure after a minor fender bender will not encourage the recipient to take you or your claim seriously. More likely, it will lead them to disregard your claims as dishonest or frivolous – the opposite of what you want at the outset.
- Set a specific settlement demand: Setting a precise number for what you expect as payment can put you into a corner you can’t get out of. If, as your case moves ahead, your actual damages increase, the opposing attorney or insurance company will always refer back to your too-low demand at the beginning.
- Say more than what is needed: A 10-page settlement demand letter about your claim will not only bore your reader – it can end up including information and admissions that harm your case later on. Keep your demand letter simple and to the point. There will be plenty of opportunities to show in full detail why your case will win.
Are you required to hire an attorney to send a demand letter? No – you can send it yourself to the party you believe owes you money. Is an attorney more likely to get you better results? Most likely – based on their years of experience in achieving positive outcomes for people like you.
A Texas Personal Injury Lawyer Can Draft Your Settlement Demand Letter and Advocate For You
Demand letters are an essential part of the personal injury claims process. They outline the facts of your case and kick off negotiations. For help, contact an experienced Texas personal injury attorney who can provide guidance and representation throughout this process.