A demand letter often is the first step in the negotiation process for a personal injury claim. Your personal injury lawyer prepares the demand letter to send to the insurance company. A typical demand letter contains:
- Summary of the facts of the case
- A description of your injuries, including whether you sustained permanent impairments because of the injuries
- The legal analysis of why the at-fault party is liable for your damages
- An explanation of your damages and a dollar amount you will accept to settle the injury claim
The insurance demand letter response time depends on several factors. Unfortunately, there is no law governing the demand letter timeline for a personal injury case in California.
How Long Does an Insurance Adjuster Have to Respond to a Claim?
Responding to a claim is different from responding to a settlement demand letter. Under California law, an insurance company has 15 days to acknowledge receipt of a claim. Then, it has 40 days to investigate the claim and decide to reject or accept the claim.
The insurance company can request an extension to continue investigating the claim. Generally, with an extension, the insurance company has 30 days to respond. However, you might not be ready to settle a claim in that amount of time.
Therefore, the company may wait for you to make a settlement demand. If so, the claim is held open until your personal injury lawyer sends a demand letter to the insurance company.
Factors That Could Impact Your Settlement Timeline
However, it could take months for your doctor to determine if you have reached maximum medical improvement. After that, you might need to see a specialist or medical expert to obtain medical evidence proving your level of impairment or disability. Therefore, it could take close to a year for you to be ready to make a settlement demand.
Another factor could be the investigation of your claim. Your lawyer investigates the cause of your injuries to gather evidence proving fault. You cannot recover compensation for damages unless you have evidence proving your claim.
Depending on the type of case and the circumstances, it could take months to complete the investigation. Your attorney may need to work with an accident reconstructionist or other expert witnesses to prove that the other party caused your injury.
On the other side of the case, factors could impact the insurance company’s timeline to respond to a demand letter.
Factors Impacting the Insurance Company’s Response Time
After your injury lawyer sends the demand letter to the insurance company, how quickly the company responds depends on various factors. Some of those factors include:
- The difficulty of the case and whether the insurance company has completed its investigation
- The severity of your injuries and the complexity of your medical records
- The size of the insurance company and its resources to respond to claims
- Whether the insurance company has assigned the case to a defense law firm
- The amount you claim your damages are worth
- Whether you sustained prior injuries or had previous accidents
- Allegations of contributory fault
- Internal administrative circumstances and issues
- The insurance adjuster’s caseload
If the insurance company fails to respond to your demand letter, your attorney might advise you it is time to file a lawsuit.
What Are the Potential Responses to a Demand Letter?
The insurance company could ignore your demand letter. However, most insurance companies review your demand for settlement and respond in one of three ways:
- Acceptance – The insurance company accepts your settlement offer. If so, it has 30 days after accepting your offer to issue you a settlement check.
- Counteroffer – The insurance company may issue a counteroffer. The counteroffer could be significantly less than your original offer. You could either accept the offer, make a counteroffer, or proceed with a lawsuit.
- Rejection – If the insurance company rejects your settlement offer, you would need to file a lawsuit against the party who caused your injury.
Generally, personal injury attorneys make an initial demand for an amount higher than the amount you would agree to accept to settle the claim. By doing so, the attorney allows room to negotiate with the insurance company to agree upon a fair and just figure.
Most personal injury claims settle through negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help make the process less stressful. It can also increase your chances of receiving the money you deserve for your injuries and damages.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.