It is true that the majority of personal injury cases are settled outside of the courtroom. The process of settling a case with the at-fault party and his or her insurance company involves negotiation. However, the process begins with a settlement demand. The Settlement Demand Letter falls under Colorado Rule of Evidence 408.
What Is a Settlement Demand?
In civil cases where one party has been wrongfully injured by another, a settlement demand letter is prepared by your attorneys to effectuate a reasonable settlement of the claim outside of court and the filing of a civil lawsuit. The Settlement Demand is often times, depending on the complexity of the issues, a 20-30 page document outlining everything in the case. Settlement Demand letters cover the accident, photos of the vehicles, photos of the injuries, chronologies of the medical records and medical bills associated with past treatment from the accident, Colorado Law on personal injury damages, Colorado Jury Instructions in support of the claim, future outlined medical expenses, expert reports, witness affidavits, insurance coverage analysis, Colorado Case Law on evidence, Colorado legal authority for a variety of issues that are involved in the potential claim – including, where appropriate, standards for punitive damages and spoliation of evidence. Every demand letter includes a dollar amount necessary to settle the claim – in many situations, this may rise to a policy limits demand. It is important to provide supporting evidence to back up your claims, as the evidence gives you an advantage in the settlement process.
Settlement Demands in Your Injury Case
When it comes to making a settlement demand in your injury case, how do you know how much to ask for? Your lawyer will determine the dollar amount needed to fairly compensate you for your injuries by taking many factors into consideration. Some of the factors include:
- Special damages, also known as economic damages, such as past and future medical care and related expenses as well as time away from work due to the injury and other missed income or reductions in future earning capacity depending on the severity of injuries and facts of the case.
- General damages, also known as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, emotional distress, personal fulfillment, grieving, loss of family, social, educational experiences, and other emotional losses and damages.
- Permanent Impairment, functional limitations and disability, psychological trauma and permanent disfigurement.
- Punitive Damages are a distinct potential category of damages that can be assessed against the defendant based on egregious and reckless conduct that led to the incident where injury resulted.
All of these things significantly impact the value of your injury case. The value that your lawyer assigns to your case is important, it’s the product of serious analysis an understanding of the applicable law and years of experience in personal injury representation.
Possible Outcomes After the Demand Has Been Made
Once the at-fault party and/or his or her insurance company has received the demand, then they have options for how to respond, including:
- Accepting the details and terms presented in the demand letter and agreeing to settle for the requested amount.
- Providing a counter-offer, which is generally a settlement of a lesser amount of money, which triggers a negotiation process that ultimately winds up with an agreement on the amount between what you initially demanded and what the insurance company's initial counter-offer was in the response.
- Denying the claim and refusing to pay any money, which typically means that a lawsuit must be filed in order to recover damages in your case.
Past Case Results
Statistics show that those who rely on the expertise of a qualified personal injury lawyers during the settlement process generally see a higher settlement amount than those who attempt to settle their case on their own. A Settlement Demand Letter lays out the case and creates a living document outlining how the lawyers will present your case, in the event that the matter cannot be resolved, at trial in the future.
At Whalen Injury Lawyers, we have a proven record of strong results in securing substantial settlements through prepared settlement demand letters. We’re happy to offer you a free consultation with one of our lawyers to discuss your legal options. Our Denver office is located at 955 East Arapahoe Court, Suite 2375 in Centennial, CO 80112. Call us in Denver at (720) 307- 2666. Our office in Colorado Springs is located at 102 South Tejon Street, Suite 1100, Colorado Springs, CO 80903. Contact us in Colorado Springs at (719) 644-7000. Give us a call today. We look forward to helping you get the fair compensation you deserve.