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If you suffered serious personal injuries because of someone else’s negligence, you have the power to file a civil claim against the party or parties that caused your damages in California. One of the first steps toward obtaining a settlement is submitting your personal injury demand letter. A personal injury lawyer in Orange County can help you create a demand letter that includes all pertinent information, and submit it to the correct place at the correct time on your behalf.
A demand letter is a document you will send to the other side in your personal injury case, or the defendant. The defendant is the individual or party you believe is most responsible for causing your accident and injuries. The demand letter lists the recovery you seek from the defendant. It will include a dollar amount you will accept to resolve your claim, based on your damages. The defendant will have a set amount of time to review your demand letter and issue a response.
If the defendant accepts the claim, you and the defendant (or your attorneys) will enter into settlement negotiations. The goal of these negotiations is to come to a satisfactory agreement between you and the defendant on what it will take to resolve the claim. Your case may end here if the defendant offers a satisfactory amount. If the defendant denies your demand letter or settlement negotiations do not work, your case may go to trial for resolution.
The demand letter is arguably the most important part of the negotiation process. In it, you will give the defendant (or his or her insurance company) your strongest arguments for why the defendant is legally responsible for your damages, what injuries you suffered, and how much your case is worth. The centerpiece of your demand letter is the lump sum it would take to settle your claim. The letter will include other information as well.
The conclusion of your demand letter will be the actual demand – the amount of money you desire from the defendant’s insurance company. Coming up with a dollar amount may take help from an attorney. You will need to review all past and foreseeable future expenses relating to your accident and personal injuries. Then, you will need documentation or evidence to support the amount you arrive at.
California uses a damage formula to come up with the financial award a personal injury victim should receive for his or her damages. This formula can yield an accurate number with which to start your settlement negotiations. It may or may not be what you actually receive for your claim. You will need to add up the costs of your lost wages, past and future medical care, permanent disabilities, emotional damages, and physical pain and suffering.
A lawyer will typically start by adding up your special damages, or those with specific dollar amounts. Then, the lawyer will multiply the number of special damages by a number from one to five depending on the severity of your injuries and the impact they had on your life. Most claims multiply special damages by a number between one-and-a-half to three. The lawyer will then add this amount to the number of special damages for the full demand.
Your lawyer will typically start the negotiation process with a higher figure than you would actually be okay with accepting. This gives room for you and the other party to go back and forth with negotiations until you can both agree on an acceptable amount. Using a lawyer for negotiations can improve your odds of securing maximum compensation for your damages.