Asked in Car Accidents and Personal Injury for Alabama

Q: Does my lawyer need to send me a copy of his personal Injury limits demand letter ?

I called my lawyer, 7 months after my wreck, and eight weeks since my medical discharge, to get an update on my case. He told me that he has proof read the policy limits demand letter and will be sending it to the other parties insurance company that day. Well, that was weeks ago. Since I did not have insurance, my lawyer sent me to multiple doctors of their choice , and have not disclosed how much those medical bills are. I feel like I have the right to know, since those bills will come out of my settlement. My question is, legally, does the lawyer need to send me a copy of the demand letter that he sent to the other parties insurance company ? I would like to know more details but he doesn't give me much to go on.

1 Lawyer Answer
Jeffrey G. Blackwell
Jeffrey G. Blackwell
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: Hopefully, I can answer some of your concerns. Your primary issue seems to revolve around a complete lack of communication with your lawyer. I totally understand your concern on that issue. A lack of communication is one of the biggest complaints about lawyers in general. The lawyer and client need to communicate regularly so the best decisions can be made about your case. With some of the larger advertising firms, lawyers seem to have abdicated their communication responsibilities to staff. Because of that, clients suffer. Anyone with a personal injury needs a lawyer who will take the time to discuss key issues in order to prepare the best possible case.

You asked if the lawyer is required to send a copy of the actual demand letter to you. I know of no such requirement. Among different lawyers, the format of demand letters can vary widely. Some lawyers (especially the big volume advertising firms) simply send the medical records / bills with a short demand. To me, that's a really bad practice. I don't think that's the best way to make a demand. Instead, we organize everything, include our own medical research, and write a lengthy letter. Our letters tell the client's story and explain the injuries in detail. We want to provide the information that maximizes the offer to you.

Your inquiry raises another concern. You mention that your lawyer sent you to multiple doctors because you have no health insurance. I certainly understand the need for care and the issue of no health coverage. This issue highlights the need for communication. Let's look at a couple scenarios. What if the at-fault driver only had minimum liability coverage in Alabama (currently 25,000)? If your lawyer sent you to a bunch of doctors, those medical bills might consume all the available coverage. What if your lawyer has business relationships with these doctors? If so, then your lawyer may not have any desire to negotiate down the medical costs to save you money. We constantly hear these complaints from people who hire one of the large advertising settlement mill firms on billboards or television in Alabama. Too often, those lawyers don't communicate with their clients. Then, at the end of the case, the client is shocked at how little of their settlement they get to keep. It's the wrong way to treat people who need help.

Communication is key. The ability to participate and help make decisions about your case is also key. The goal should always be to help the client through a difficult legal situation while working to maximize the client's net recovery.

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