Sample Reply Letter to Too-Low Injury Settlement Offer

Tips on crafting the right strategy (and an effective written response) when the insurance company makes you an unreasonably low personal injury settlement offer.

Updated by , J.D. University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated 7/18/2024

It might come as some surprise, but most personal injury cases settle—eventually. But it's important to keep the right perspective on the injury settlement process, and understand that the other side's insurance adjuster probably isn't going to come right to the negotiating table with a fair settlement offer. But what if the insurance company's offer is unreasonably low? Let's look at a few tactics to try in this situation.

Ask the Adjuster to Justify Their Low Injury Settlement Offer

The first thing to know here is that insurance adjusters have the insurance company's interests in mind. They're not looking out for your best interests. So a first (often unreasonably low) offer may simply be a negotiating tactic to gauge:

Rather than accepting a too-low offer, take this opportunity to ask the adjuster to share their reasoning behind the offer. If you already sent a demand letter, it's time to request a detailed response to each of the arguments or assertions you made in that letter, including:

  • your characterization of the incident that led to your injury, and why the other side (the adjuster's insured person/business) is at fault
  • the nature and extent of your injuries, and the necessity of the medical care you've received, and
  • your explanation of how your injuries have impacted you, including the details of your physical and mental "pain and suffering."

Responding In Writing to a Low Injury Settlement Offer

Once the adjuster provides the basis for their low offer (sometimes over the phone, but preferably in writing, at least in an email), you might feel any number of things—anger, anxiety, outrage—but try to keep things in perspective. Remember:

  • the adjuster is protecting the company's bottom line, and
  • this offer/response/counter-offer routine is part of the injury settlement negotiation process, and is best viewed as an unpleasant means to a desired end: fair resolution of your injury claim.

Your next move is to write a brief letter responding to each of the reasons the adjuster mentioned as justification for their low offer. Below is an example of what this kind of letter might look like.

(This letter is excerpted from How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim by Attorney Joseph Matthews (Nolo), an all-in-one guide to handling an insurance claim after any kind of accident or injury, including strategies for dealing with an insurance company that refuses to make a fair offer.)

Angel Ruiz
123 Peach Street
Denver, CO 80019

June 15, 20xx

Victor Rubinion
Claims Adjuster
Rocky Mountain Insurance Company
1000 Throughway Boulevard
Denver, CO 80205

Re: Your Insured, Richard Leonard
Claimant: Angel Ruiz
Claim No.: 93-HQ1234
Date of Accident: January 13, 20xx

Dear Mr. Rubinion:

In our telephone conversation today, you relayed the basis for Rocky Mountain Insurance Company's offer to settle my claim for $1,000. However, none of the reasons you gave for such a low offer is supported by the facts.

You claimed that I was as much at fault in the accident as your insured. You assert that I had a duty to avoid hitting him because he was already in the intersection when our cars collided. This assertion is not supported by the facts. Indeed, the police report indicates that your insured had a yield sign, and I had the right of way. Thus, I did not have a duty to avoid hitting your insured and am not at fault for the accident.

In addition, you claimed that I suffered "only a soft tissue" injury, which did not justify either the physical therapy I underwent or my settlement demand. If you look at the record of my X-rays, you will see a narrowing of cervical vertebrae. Therefore, your characterization of my injury as "minor" and as "soft tissue" is completely unjustified.

Because of the slight possibility of some minor comparative negligence in the accident, however, I am willing to reduce by five percent my settlement demand of $15,000. Therefore, I demand the sum of $14,250 as settlement of the claim.

Please provide me with Rocky Mountain's response within 14 days after you receive this letter.

Yours truly,

Angel Ruiz

Should You Adjust Your Injury Settlement Demand After a Lowball Settlement Offer?

Whatever the reason for the adjuster's low-ball offer, it's not a good idea to significantly lower the amount you originally asked for (if you sent a demand letter early on, for example). Instead, a more sound negotiating tactic is to make a small downward adjustment to your previous offer, just as our hypothetical claimant Angel Ruiz does in the above example (reducing the original demand by five percent).

Learn more about settlement discussions with an insurance adjuster and get tips on negotiating a fair personal injury settlement.

What If the Adjuster Doesn't Respond, Or Settlement Talks Are Going Nowhere?

The best way to get an insurance adjuster to take you and your claim seriously is to escalate things by filing a personal injury lawsuit, or at least raise the prospect of taking the matter to court.

The last thing the insurance adjuster wants is to have to defend a lawsuit filed against their insured. So a credible threat of going to court might result in a more reasonable settlement offer from the adjuster. (Learn more about what to do when personal injury settlement talks fail.)

But you might not be in the best position to know whether proceeding to the lawsuit stage will be worth the time and hassle. In either of these scenarios (no response from the adjuster, or stalled settlement talks) if you haven't already done so, it might be time to discuss your situation (and your options) with an experienced legal professional.

Getting Help With Your Personal Injury Claim

A personal injury attorney will take an objective look at your claim, examine the insurance adjuster's settlement offer(s) and related correspondence, and formulate the most effective strategy for your case going forward. If a lawsuit seems like a sound move, a lawyer will handle the big and small details of the court process, while putting your best case together.

Learn more about when you need a lawyer's help with a personal injury claim, and how to find the right lawyer for you and your case.

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