You suffered an injury and believe someone else is at fault. You may have a valid personal injury claim. However, the other party does not believe that they bear liability, and they’re not sure that they could win a personal injury lawsuit against you. If you ask for compensation, the at-fault party is not likely to pay the amount you demand. If you have significant evidence, however, they might be willing to discuss the issue. Those discussions are called negotiations.

The Demand Package

The Demand Package

You kick off negotiations (probably with an insurance company) by sending the opposing party a demand package. A demand package consists of a demand package plus supporting documentation. 

Your demand letter should include:

  • A heading and an introduction: It should include your contact information, the date of the letter, etc.
  • The factual background of your claim (the date and location of the accident, a description of the accident, etc.)
  • Details of your medical treatment, including your current medical status;
  • An itemized list of all of your medical bills and related expenses;
  • A description of your loss of earnings and any lost earning capacity.
  • A description of any property damage;
  • A description of physical and emotional distress you experienced and its impact on your daily life;
  • An explanation of why the defendant is at fault;
  • A settlement demand, in dollars and cents, plus a breakdown ( medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.);
  • Supporting documentation such as medical records, bills, proof of lost wages, photographs of your injuries and the scene of the accident; and
  • A conclusion that includes a deadline for a response, and contact information for follow-up (preferably your lawyer’s contact details, not your own). 

Be polite, and be as brief as possible in light of the circumstances of your injuries. You might choose not to include a specific dollar amount at this stage. Your best bet is to ask your lawyer to put all this together for you.

Don’t Forget to Demand Non-Economic Damages

Don’t underestimate your non-economic damages (pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.). In many cases, this component of damages adds up to three to five times the amount of medical bills. Let your lawyer figure out how much to ask for. 

Comparative Fault

Comparative fault is a legal doctrine that applies when more than one party is at fault for the accident. If the accident was partly your fault, a court will assign both parties a percentage of fault. If you were mostly at fault, you will recover nothing. If your percentage of fault adds up to anywhere from 1% to 50%, a court will deduct that exact percentage from your compensation. 

How Comparative Fault Applies to Negotiations

It is often said that ”All bargaining takes place in the shadow of the law.” Your demand for compensation should reflect a realistic estimate of how much a court would deduct for any part you might have played in the accident, plus some padding to give you some room to bargain. The final settlement will likely reflect a compromise between how much you think a court would deduct and how much the opposing party thinks a court would deduct.

Offer and Counteroffer

The opposing party’s initial offer (or counteroffer) is likely to be ridiculously low, especially if it comes from an insurance company. This is especially likely if you haven’t hired a lawyer. From that point on, negotiations will likely resemble a ping-pong game of offer and counteroffer.

Filing a Lawsuit

You might need to file a lawsuit even if you’re committed to a settlement. That’s because a lawsuit will get both sides access to the pretrial discovery process. “Discovery” is probably the best way to gather evidence that will tilt the balance of bargaining power far enough in your favor to convince the opposing party to agree to a reasonable settlement amount.


You can also try mediation, where a trained third-party mediator seeks to facilitate a voluntary settlement. Sometimes, judges insist that the parties at least try mediation before they will schedule a trial.

The Settlement Agreement

In a settlement agreement, you forever abandon your claim in exchange for a set amount of money. Once both parties sign it, a settlement agreement is a binding legal contract.

A San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help with the Negotiation Process

San Antonio personal injury lawyers almost work on a contingency fee system. A contingency fee is a pre-agreed percentage of whatever amount your lawyer manages to win for you. It doesn’t matter whether you win the money in court or at the settlement table. 

Contact a San Antonio personal injury attorney to learn how they can help you navigate the negotiation process and recover fair compensation. Contact the experts at George Salinas Injury Lawyers or give us a call at (210) 225-0909 to schedule a free consultation with a San Antonio personal injury lawyer. We will listen to your story and discuss your legal options for recovering the compensation you deserve.