Thoroughness is the key when preparing a settlement brochure or demand package to attempt settlement of an injury case.
Here are 32 tips gleaned from over 20 years experience that comprise a checklist or template to make sure your booklet is as complete as possible.
(Note: in this checklist the “settlement brochure” is sometimes called the “demand.”)
1. Order PIP/MedPay payments ledger from your insurance company (the company of the car you were in at the time of the accident.)
2. Receive the PIP/MedPay payments ledger.
3. Check the ledger for any other doctors, clinics, prescriptions etc. that you had overlooked.
4. Make a complete list of all of your doctors, hospitals etc.
5. Request impairment rating or final narrative report letter from one of your treating doctors.
6. Obtain all Medical Bills.
7. Obtain all Medical Reports and records.
8. Mail or fax to your employer a LOST WAGES REQUEST LETTER. This asks your employer’s human resources department for:
1) your hourly wage at time of accident, and
2) how many hours were missed because of the accident.
9. Once you have received lost wages information from employer, calculate lost wages.
10. Check dates of service on ALL medical bills, prescriptions, reports, records, etc. Make sure bills are current and include all services to date.
11. Arrange medical bills in chronological order, keeping all of one doctor’s/clinic’s bills together, then list each doctor/clinic, and total expenses from that clinic, on MEDICAL SPECIALS SUMMARY in same order. Note: in injury cases, medical bills are known as “medical specials.”
12. Check for prescriptions. Add to MEDICAL SPECIALS SUMMARY.
13. Have any of the doctors predicted a specific need for future treatment? If so, add amounts to bottom of MEDICAL SPECIALS SUMMARY. (Place a copy of future medicals documentation in future medicals section of demand.)
14. Read medical records and reports to identify any problem areas. (In reading, if another doctor/clinic is mentioned check on it to see if there are more medical bills.
15. Organize medical records and reports in reverse chronological order.
16. If this is an uninsured/underinsured motorist case, gather information that is evidence of existence of an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
17. Obtain liability or jury verdict research. Note: if there is an issue as to liability it is helpful to enclose legal research that supports your position. This may be obtained from a law library.
18. Draft DEMAND LETTER. This is the cover letter for your brochure that summarizes all of the information.
19. Type DEMAND LETTER, MEDICAL SPECIALS SUMMARY, FUTURE MEDICALS SUMMARY, and LOST WAGES SUMMARIES.
20. Proofread DEMAND LETTER, MEDICAL SPECIALS SUMMARY, FUTURE MEDICALS SUMMARY, and LOST WAGES SUMMARY. Check date of accident on accident report against the date in letter.
21. Check verdict amounts in comparable verdicts with what is typed in demand letter.
22. Check spelling on medical terms, and on doctors’, clients’ and adjusters’ names.
23. Check to see that all dollar amounts and numbers are correct numbers.
24. Check all dollar totals with an adding machine. This may seem trivial but your accuracy will reflect on your credibility.
25. Check names and amounts on MEDICAL SPECIALS SUMMARY and compare them for accuracy with the amounts on the actual bills.
26. Place divider sheets in appropriate places so as to divide the demand package into sections.
27. Finalize DEMAND LETTER, MEDICAL SPECIALS SUMMARY, FUTURE MEDICALS SUMMARY, and LOST WAGES SUMMARY.
28. Make sure letter is signed before copying. Copy entire demand package; make an EXACT copy of what you send to the insurance company.
29. Make sure divider tabs are “in” for each section and are labeled in both demand and your copy.
30. After copying the demand package, go through it page by page to make sure that every page got copied, and that pages are facing up. Be sure highlighted items get highlighted on copy.
31. Mail or hand deliver the demand package/settlement booklet to insurance company.
32. Calendar for follow up in five days with adjuster. You want to make sure the package arrived. You also want to ask the claims adjuster how long it will take her to review it and get back to you with a response.
The care and thoroughness of your settlement booklet will be reflected in the size of the offer. Build credibility and trust by being complete and accurate. Good luck!
This article does not constitute legal advice but is merely a summary of the experience of one attorney in one jurisdiction. Seek legal advice from a competent attorney in your state or perform your own legal research as to any relevant legal issues.