98% of cases settle out of court. In my 37 years of practicing personal injury law, I have never met any one who wanted to testify in a trial. My job is to get my client as much money as possible. Attempting to reach a favorable out of court settlement is often in his or her best interest.
After a thorough investigation and compilation of medical records, lost wages, and other documents, with the consent of my client, I often forward a complete demand package to the at-fault driver’s insurance company adjuster and attempt to negotiate a favorable out of court settlement.
The key to success is a well written demand letter. It’s a powerful tool that maximizes my client’s damages and has these distinct advantages:
- It can resolve the claim in months — not up to the two or more years in can take to actually get to trial;
- It saves thousands of dollars in additional legal fees, filing fees, court expenses, deposition fees, expert’s bills, and a host of other expenses; and
- It avoids the anxiety of testifying and leaving the decision in the hands of 12 strangers who may rule against our side or even be biased against lawsuits or injury cases in general.
Of course I plan as if I’m going to be in trial, knowing that any case may not be successfully resolved. And some cases must be filed in court immediately and others will never settle for as much money as I want my client to receive and suit is filed.
Stating the facts in the light most favorable to you
The facts are the facts, right? Not always. Two drivers who are in a car accident may interpret events completely differently. The right of ways and which driver had the green light is constantly in dispute. A crash happens in a blink of an eye and each driver can perceive the event in a way that is most favorable or may not have even seen everything. The injury attorney will describe what happened in the crash in a clear, convincing way from your perspective and back this up with convincing evidence including the police report, officer’s notes, photographs, drawings, and eyewitness statements.
Outlining the law
The attorney understands how the law applies to your particular fact scenario and can demonstrate which laws support your position.
Texas insurance laws and appellate courts overwhelmingly favor insurance companies. Demonstrating how the law works in your favor can be a compelling reason for the insurer to settle the claim for top dollar.
Your letter should clearly identify the damages you incurred and a dollar amount for each. Furthermore, you must be prepared to present evidence of each damages you demand. Just yesterday, a major insurance company demanded the tax identification number for a doctor’s office my client had seen, even though we had submitted medical reports and bills.
Some damages might seem simple, like your right to compensation for medical bills. But in the last 10 years, the “paid versus incurred” provision of the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code has made the plaintiff quantify which bills were paid by health insurance or other sources, which were written off, and which remain unpaid and obtaining the required affidavits and proof can sometimes be difficult.
Other damages can also be difficult to value, such as the amount of money you have lost from your employment and your diminution in you earning capacity and your disability, disfigurement, and pain you have experienced. An experienced attorney who has written hundreds of these letters knows how to evaluate and present your damages.
Just as important, he is skilled at using the demand letter in his strategy for recovering the maximum possible compensation. He will have a strategy in place and know where to start, how to counter, and what a reasonable offer is.
How to get the company to settle
Just as your lawyer is looking out for you, the insurance defense representative and attorney is looking out for the company’s best interests.
So why should it settle your claim? Consider how a settlement benefits the insurance company.
Cost is a primary factor. Trial is expensive for the company too. Your attorney can show that the company comes out ahead financially if it pays you more now rather than takes your case to trial.
Trial is unpredictable and insurance companies are highly risk-adverse. Even when the facts appear to lean in their favor, insurance companies are often wiling to settle instead of risking that a jury will return a higher verdict.
Value of an experienced auto accident lawyer
If you have been injured in a car or truck wreck, you should hire a good personal injury attorney to either settle your case our of court or take it to trial. Please contact us by calling or emailing us if you need assistance with your claim. The first visit or phone call is free and is no obligation and we only get paid if you get paid so there’s no risk to you.