Every claim is different and we can submit what we want in our settlement demand. The facts of the case and the damages involved will dictate when a settlement demand should be submitted. Sometimes, timing is everything. Our goal is to reach a resolution of the claim for the most money possible when it makes sense to do so. Your job is to get better and follow the doctor’s advice.
What we do not want to do is to compromise the claim by an early settlement that does not represent a fair value for the claim. I often tell clients that their claim should not be settled until the injured party is stable, meaning that either the injured party feels as good as they did before the accident or we have a medical doctor willing to state in writing that there is no further curative treatment and that his or her patient has a permanent injury.
The elements of the settlement demand include a narrative that we write and share with you for your review and input before submitting it to the insurance company. The narrative is a summary of the case. We will typically include information about your background, employment, prior medical history, the facts of the accident, the medical treatment thereafter, and the damages. The demand usually takes the form of a binder that is indexed with the collision and liability information, the medical charts and reports, and all of the bills and wage loss documentation. If we do not settle the case, we may use the narrative in what is called a Prehearing Statement if we elect to litigate the case in mandatory arbitration.
One way to improve the demand binder is through the use of pictures. We always like to include pictures of the property damage to the vehicle following the collision. We also like to include “action shots” of activities the injured party engaged in prior to the accident. The pictures should be within the recent past rather from years ago. Examples might include pictures of the injured party golfing, jumping off a diving board, fishing, taking a golf swing, displaying crafts or other projects, you get the idea. Three to five really good pictures are more valuable for our purposes than lots and lots of poor quality photographs. Also, if the accident caused any bruising or visible damage to the person, especially any scarring, the demand, if possible, should include those pictures.