The number that you ask the liability insurance company to pay in your claim will depend on a variety of factors that your personal injury lawyer will help you determine, but one thing is clear: ask for the maximum amount, because you typically cannot collect a higher settlement than what was initially claimed in the lawsuit. Don’t worry if this initial number gets rejected, that’s what your personal injury lawyer in St. Louis is for! We can help negotiate a number that you will be happy with in the end. Contact us now.
Before we delve into HOW MUCH that amount might be, let’s first take a look at WHERE and WHEN you ask for this amount.
The Demand Letter
After you and your attorney have gathered all of your evidence surrounding the accident, you will formally ask for an amount in the demand letter. The personal injury claim process officially begins with this step in which you, the plaintiff, request compensation for damages from the defendant for injuries, medical bills, pain, suffering, inconvenience, etc.
One way to think of it is sort of like an invoice or bill. It is a summarized package that outlines all of your medical treatment as well as any other issues that need to be addressed that may impact the value of your claim, including:
- Why the defendant is legally liable
- A summary of the injuries sustained
- The medical treatments that are/were required
- All medical bills associated with the injury
- How much lost wages has been or will be accrued
- Any other non-economic damages suffered, like pain and suffering
At the end of your letter, you and your attorney will demand a specific sum of money as total compensation. Before this, you can briefly repeat the strongest parts of your argument and any special facts that boost the value of your case, such as dangerous behavior by the insured, extreme pain, extensive treatment, long recovery periods, permanent injury, etc.
At this stage, your attorney’s job is to essentially argue your case to the insurance company for why they should pay for the damages.
Factors That Affect How Much to Sue For
Coming up with the number to ask your insurance company to pay in the demand letter will require the help of a personal injury lawyer who will help you look at all the factors including:
- The nature and extent of your injuries
- Indisputable proof of the other side’s liability
- Any contributory negligence on your part
- The existence of witnesses
- The potential of jury sympathy for you
- Your willingness to be patient through the personal injury settlement process
After looking at all of these, your attorney will determine a total sum that will then be clearly stated in a well-organized demand letter. They will then send it to the appropropriate parties on your behalf!
Ask For the Maximum, But Be Realistic
Because the letter is only the beginning of the negotiation process, you might ask for a number that is considerably higher than the amount you would ultimately be satisfied with; however, you do not want to make it outrageously high or else the adjustor will see right through the bargaining tactic and you will be at square one. A general rule is to make it 75% to 100% higher than what you would be satisfied with accepting in the end. For example, if you think your claim is worth between $5,000 to $7,000 based on the factors of your case, you might make your first demand at about $10,000 or $14,000.
Making an appropriate—but again, not too high—first demand announces that you know your claim cannot and should not be settled for a small sum. The insurance company will most likely counteroffer with an offer that comes in too low, but at least there is room to maneuver within the range to keep the figure fair.
Contact The Hayden Law Firm
After this demand letter is sent to the appropriate parties, they must respond in a timely manner by either 1) rejecting the demand entirely 2) accepting the demand amount or 3) making a counteroffer.
If the insurance company won’t pay—or won’t pay nearly enough—then you may move on to the next step in the process which is filing a lawsuit. In most cases, though, claims will be negotiated effectively and will not move to trial. For help with any step in the personal injury process, contact our knowledgeable car accident lawyer in St. Louis at The Hayden Law Firm