If the Car Accident Demand Letter Fails, What Happens?

A look at your options if the insurance adjuster doesn't respond to your car accident injury demand letter, or if the counter-offer is unreasonable.

Two problems often arise after you send a demand letter to the insurance adjuster, asking for fair compensation for your car accident injuries and other losses:

  • you are having difficulties getting the adjuster to make a settlement offer, and
  • settlement negotiations between you and the adjuster have completely bogged down.

If one of these common problems occur, what can you do to get your car accident claim back on track?

Difficulties Getting the Adjuster to Make an Offer

Insurance adjusters want to settle car accident claims. They're highly motivated to close the file and get it off their desk. Insurers grade their adjusters in part on how quickly they can resolve their cases. So, if the adjuster is not making a settlement offer, there is usually a pretty good reason for that.

The most common reasons for an adjuster not making a settlement offer after you send a demand letter are:

  • the adjuster still doesn’t have all of the documents necessary in order to value your car accident claim, or
  • the adjuster believes that your demand is far too high.
Let's look at these reasons in a little more depth.

If the Adjuster Doesn’t Have Your Entire File

Insurance companies are very conservative and careful. They don’t want to make decisions that will cost them money until they have all the facts. For this reason, adjusters simply refuse to make a car accident settlement offer until they have every single document relevant to your claim. If they are missing even one page of a doctor’s notes, they will probably not be prepared to talk settlement -- other than a complete lowball settlement figure.

It is your job to provide the insurance adjuster with the necessary documents -- it is not their job to go hunt records down. So make sure the adjuster has all records relating to your medical treatment for all your car accident injuries. That includes office notes, physical therapy records, prescriptions, and every piece of paper generated by the hospital if you were admitted.

You also need to make sure the adjuster has every bill for your treatment. Simply sending them a health insurance claim form is not good enough. The adjuster wants a copy of the itemized bill from the health care provider. You also need to provide adequate proof of your lost earnings. This can range from a couple of paystubs or a letter from your employer, to copies of your income tax returns, depending on the magnitude and complexity of your lost earnings claim.

Learn more about the insurance adjuster's request for medical records and exams in a car accident claim.

Your Demand Might Be Too High

Another reason your demand letter might be met by radio silence is that the adjuster thinks your initial settlement demand is far too high. In that situation, the insurer often may not respond at all; they certainly won’t make any counteroffer. Let’s look at a parallel example from daily life to see why this could be so.

Let’s say you go to buy a car and you find one with a price tag of $19,995. If you offered the dealer $18,000, she'll probably think you're serious and will likely respond with a counteroffer. But if you offer $8,000, the saleswoman probably won't bother pursuing the sale any further and will probably turn her attention to other customers, since it's clear that you're wasting her time. That’s how it is with car accident claim negotiations. If your initial demand is too high, you are wasting the adjuster’s time, and they won’t respond until your demand is more reasonable.

If an adjuster doesn’t make an offer in response to your demand, they may tell you why. If it’s because documents are still missing from your file, get them to the adjuster, and the ball will likely start rolling again. If it’s because your demand is too high, you have a choice. You can lower your demand or hire a lawyer. In this situation, it’s usually a good idea to at least discuss your situation with an experienced car accident lawyer who can give you a reality check by taking a professional -- not to mention objective -- look at the value of your claim.

If Settlement Negotiations Have Bogged Down

If the adjuster makes an offer, but you can’t get them to budge off of that initial offer, this could mean:

  • the adjuster (reasonably) thinks your demand is still too high, or
  • the adjuster is (unreasonably) trying to lowball you.
It can be hard to tell what the adjuster's motivations are. If the adjuster made an offer, that usually means your initial demand wasn’t unreasonably high. The adjuster may be balking in an attempt to take advantage of an unrepresented claimant. This is just common business sense. From the adjuster’s perspective, why not try to push around an unrepresented person who could spook easily and accept a lowball settlement? In this situation, it could be time for you to sit down with a lawyer.

Get more tips on settling a car accident claim and how an attorney can help.

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