Having been in practice since before the onset of Colossus, I remember the day when personal injury cases went a lot smoother. Once the insurance industry realized they could make more money by cashing checks then by writing them, things changed.
The one-page demand letter is a thing of the past mainly because Colossus demands more! There was a time (sadly many attorneys still follow this format) when a demand letter was more of a cover letter that stated, “My client was injured by your client, can you send a check?”
Back then it would work because an adjuster would actually read it, decide what the case was worth and then authorize a payment. That is no longer the case and this is why I started doing demand letters for attorneys.
Insurance adjusters today spend more time doing data entry and the data they are entering is what you have in your demand letter. Flowery prose has been replaced by numbers and if those numbers are not in the demand letter the computer does not make much of an offer.
DROP THE PROSE
Your demand letter is not a cover letter, it is not social correspondence. It is a demand! That gift of eloquence you may have been born with along with the tools of the trade you have learned along the way may work well on the phone but not so well on paper.
Adjusters today may not even take the time to read through the ream of paper you have stacked up behind your demand letter. As such all the doctors’ findings may be overlooked unless you have them up front, in the proper format. If you don’t have the data in a format that can be easily entered, then you had best be prepared for a lower settlement offer every time.
SO WHAT NEEDS TO BE INCLUDED?
With the introduction of computer rating systems, emotions were removed from the equation. The only thing that can have value is facts. Today, a proper demand letter will be at least 20 pages long and will be chock full of information a computer can process.
We could easily get bogged down in decision points, validity points, maximizers, prolonged modifiers and severity points. With about 30,000 of these variables it would be a challenge for any individual to keep up with it all. To complicate matters on those items, the insurance companies regularly adjust the values given to each so that we will never know which ones are most valuable.
The important thing is that these are items that the doctors need to document. The more the doctors give you, the more you can include in your demand letter.
PHOENIX MEDICAL LEGAL SERVICES
Phoenix Medical Legal Services can take all the relevant information from every treating or examining doctors’ notes and organize it in a format that any insurance adjuster can enter. Since they have an incentive to close cases, this format provides them the means to do so quickly and efficiently.
These demand letters itemize injuries, symptoms and treatments, length of care and progression of the recovery. While most doctors omit duties under duress and loss of enjoyment from their notes we encourage you to take the extra step to follow up with patients to get that information too. These are two areas the insurance company will pay for but if not included in the demand letter they will not be included in the settlement.
There are two other areas you should include that will add the greatest value to your cases. The first is a whole person impairment rating. Many whiplash victims suffer only minor injuries and do, for the most part, recover quickly. We also know through volumes of research that most victims do suffer permanent damage.
Colossus assumes a 2 percent whole person impairment rating, but will not consider it unless you ask for it. A mild ankle sprain alone will earn a 2 percent whole person impairment. When you consider all the spinal nerves involved in a cervical sprain it becomes a lot easier to understand why so many cases are rated at 20 to 30 percent.
Despite the fact that studies show the average chiropractor is far better equipped to treat musculo-skeletal problems than the average medical doctor, Colossus will offer a better settlement when an M.D. agrees with the findings. This simple addition to your demand makes a big difference in the offer.
For more information on writing a demand letter, feel free to reach out to us.