The simple answer is that a demand letter is created by your Atlanta car accident lawyer to send to the defendant (the party at fault) or their insurance company. The information included in this demand letter is:
- The facts, in general, about the background of your legal accident claim.
- The reasons you are considering legal action.
- The amount of money you are demanding that will be acceptable to settle the case.
While these are the basics of a demand letter for the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit, there are many other details surrounding the rules and laws of this course of action that is critical for you to know.
More Details that Should Be Included in a Demand Letter
A demand letter, as the name implies, is a document sent by an injured victim and their Atlanta car accident attorney to the at-fault party or their insurance company demanding a certain amount of compensation to pay for the accident victim’s losses. The letter needs to constitute how this compensation is a fair solution to settle the lawsuit and also justify why the demand should exist in the first place.
While it varies depending on each unique situation, an impactful demand letter should include this more detailed information:
- The date, time, and location of the car accident
- A timeline and description of the events leading up to the car accident and how it happened
- An itemized list of the injuries sustained by you, how severe they are, and how it has affected your family
- A timeline of medical treatments
- A list of the damages or expenses you have had to endure from the accident, including dollar amounts and how these losses will affect your future
- The reason you believe the defendant was at fault, including the legal arguments on how you deserve compensation
The demand letter will, of course, conclude with a specific demand by you, the plaintiff. It can be lengthy, but an experienced attorney will craft it in just the right style and tone to address the main issues and to get the defendant’s attention on the seriousness of their legal responsibilities to repay you for your losses.
What Is the Timeline for Sending a Demand Letter?
A personal injury lawsuit of any kind, including claims for car accidents, starts with sending a demand letter to the defendant. Sometimes, the letter is sent even before the legal process has begun because, with a well-crafted one, attorneys can negotiate a settlement through the demand letter even before entering the courtroom. If this strategy is not used, victims may have to endure the time-consuming, stressful process of discovery and going to trial.
The statute of limitations in Georgia to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for personal injury cases is two years from the date of your injuries. If this deadline is not followed, your case may be dismissed. Legally, however, while the demand letter is required in Georgia, there is no for it.
It is critical to have an attorney create and send the demand letter properly to be taken seriously. The following steps in the timeline of this legal process after sending a demand letter are:
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If a fair settlement cannot be reached with the defendant and their insurance company, you can file a lawsuit to seek compensation for the damages that were not covered in court. The document filed in this step of the process is known as a complaint or petition.
Issuance and Service of Summons
A summons, a document that formally gives notice that a case has been filed, is served to the defendant in the personal injury lawsuit. Once served, the defendant has a limited time to answer the summons, or they may receive a default judgment against them.
The Discovery Process
During the discovery process, both parties (defendant and plaintiff) will exchange and argue their evidence connected to the personal injury case. The exchange of sworn statements, or dispositions, is an important step of the legal timeline and can come in the form of witnesses to the accident, law enforcement at the crash scene, accident reconstruction experts, doctors or medical experts, and more.
Negotiations and Settlement
Each side will then consider all the evidence presented during the discovery process of the case to determine if it is possible to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.
If an out-of-court settlement cannot be reached, the case may need to be resolved in court. An Atlanta car accident attorney can help you weigh the benefits of seeking compensation in court.
Factors that Could Delay a Response to a Demand Letter
When you send a demand letter to the defendant and are awaiting their reply (or their insurer) to your specific compensation requests but do not hear back, there are a few common reasons you have not received a response.
The Legal Liability of the Case Is Uncertain
Insurance adjusters want to deny as many claims as possible, but they can only dismiss cases for a good cause. This is why it may take especially long when it comes to those cases in which the legal liability is uncertain because it takes more time to review documents and evidence, speak to witnesses, and determine how it all aligns with the insurance policy.
There Is a Case Overload
Insurance adjusters want to deny as many claims as possible because they receive thousands of them each day, so if you have a good car accident case, the review process may be delayed because there may be a backlog.
Insurer Bad Faith
There is a legal duty that insurance companies have to review and process all claims in a fair manner. Regardless, carriers still deny them without justification, which is known as insurer bad faith and has serious repercussions under the law.
How an Attorney Can Help You with a Demand Letter
After your car crash, it is critical to contact an Atlanta car accident lawyer to craft a successful demand letter to ensure you will receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.