Have you suffered a personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence? Maybe you were involved in a rear-end collision with a distracted driver. Or, perhaps the negligence of a store owner resulted in unsafe conditions that led you to slip and fall. As a result, you may be struggling with pain, mounting medical bills, lost wages, or property damage. When your injury is someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation.
Of course, to obtain the money you deserve, you need to go about the process in the correct manner. Simple mistakes in the early stages of the settlement process can easily cost you thousands of dollars. This is much-needed money to pay the bills, put food on the table, and ensure your family’s security.
One way to show the insurance company that you are serious about your claim is by writing a demand letter. A well-written demand letter may be all the persuasion that you need to settle your claim with the insurance company without resorting to litigation.
Ready to learn how you can draft the perfect demand letter? Referring to this guide may mean extra money in your pocket come settlement time.
What is a Demand Letter?
A demand letter is the starting point to negotiations for your personal injury settlement. This crucial document lets the other party or insurance company know that you are serious about recovering losses. In addition, a demand letter shows that you have all the facts in place if litigation ever becomes necessary. Instead of going back and forth with a claims adjuster, you clearly state what money you expect to recover and why.
On the surface, the idea of a demand letter seems simple. As the name would suggest, you tell the insurance company to pay up, or else. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Simply “demanding” cash and making threats won’t work. In fact, a letter like that would probably be filed in the insurance company’s paper shredder.
A demand letter needs certain facts and information to be effective. It has a clear format and a compelling argument as to why you are asking for compensation. So, before writing your letter, it is essential to get all your facts straight. The information you present should be supported by other documents. For example, if you are proving a car accident wasn’t your fault, you will want to attach a copy of the police report to the demand letter.
As you prepare to write your letter, consider some key points:
- Why was the other party at fault?
- What was the extent of your injuries?
- How have these injuries interrupted your life? For example, consider legal categories of compensation and buzzwords, such as lost wages, pain and suffering, or permanent disability.
- What were your medical expenses?
- If your accident involved property damage, what were the repair bills?
As you turn these key points into facts, make sure that you have documentation (medical records, bills, property damage assessments, etc) to support your injury claim.
Writing Your Demand Letter
Once you have all your information gathered and organized, you can create your demand letter.
Start the letter by including basic information. Begin with your name, address, phone number, and date. This gives the other party an easy way to contact you. In addition, include any insurance information like the company name, address, claim number, date of the accident, and point of contact—such as the claims adjuster. Finally, state your intent. By indicating “FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY” on the letter, you can communicate the exact reason why you are submitting these documents.
Next comes the body of your demand letter. Start with an introduction. Briefly describe the incident including the date, who was at fault, and what happened. In addition, explain your current medical conditions and other hardships. Finish the introduction with your intention to settle the claim.
After this brief introduction, the real work begins—creating a factual account of your accident. Write about what you were doing just before the accident and how the collision/injury occurred. Only include facts that are relevant and verifiable.
For example, “I was driving to see my mother because she has a hard time cleaning her house due to bad arthritis. I do this every other Saturday because she plays bingo twice a month. As I was stopped at an intersection…” gives too much unnecessary information.
Instead, try: “On Saturday, [date], I was driving to my mother’s house. I was stopped at an intersection when…”
Remember: Clear, simple, and relevant.
Next, you want to include these important sections:
This section explains how and why the other party was at fault for your accident. In addition, it describes how the other party’s negligence resulted in personal injury, property damage, and other hardships. Reference any other documents to help support your argument. For example, use accident photos, witness statements, and police reports.
In this section, clearly describe the injuries you sustained because of the accident. Be as detailed as possible. Talk about the medical treatments you needed after the accident. In addition, describe your symptoms and struggles in detail. While you don’t want to be overly dramatic, you want to make sure you talk about any soreness, pain, scars, bruises, and emotional suffering you endured after the accident. Use medical terminology as much as possible. Refer to any relevant doctor’s reports or medical records.
Writing this section also requires great detail. After all, this is where you are going to justify why you are asking for a specific amount of compensation. Damages are generally broken down into two categories:
- Special damages: Costs such as emergency room treatment, medications, and ongoing therapy. This section also includes property damages and loss of wages. Make sure you have medical records, repair costs, and wage verification from your employer as well as time missed from work to support your argument. Calculate the grand total of these damages.
- General damages: This refers to any pain and suffering and other hardships that resulted from your accident. Discuss any emotional distress or impact on your family life. Calculating these costs can be a little more difficult. In some cases, you may wish to request legal advice for determining an appropriate amount.
After you’ve clearly stated the other party’s liability, your injuries, and damages, you want to end strong. Here is where you reveal the desired compensation for the injury claim. It’s always a good idea to ask for a little more money than you are willing to settle. This gives some leverage if the insurance company wants to negotiate. Finally, end the letter on a civil note. While you may be emotionally charged as a result of your situation, now is not the time for a dramatic outpouring. After you close a letter, make sure you list every piece of documentation you attached to support the facts.
Once you’ve written your letter, read it over several times. Make sure all the facts are correct and don’t contradict each other. Don’t give the insurance company any reason to easily reject your demands for compensation.
When you’ve thoroughly looked over your letter, send it to the necessary parties via certified mail. Then comes the waiting game. Some insurance companies may want to settle immediately. Others, however, will drag out the process. Generally, there are four responses you will get after sending your demand letter:
- The demand is accepted and the claim gets settled.
- The insurance company offers a counter-offer.
- Your claim is denied.
- You get no response. Unfortunately, insurance companies have no legal obligation to respond to your letter.
Requesting the Help of a Personal Injury Lawyer
Feel a little overwhelmed with the process of writing a demand letter? You’re not alone. It’s not easy to create an effective demand letter. Luckily, an experienced personal injury lawyer can be an invaluable resource.
The Ward Law Group knows that great people just like you suffer every day because of personal injuries. This is why we fight hard to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve. We understand that the legal language, supporting facts, and timing of a demand letter is crucial. A couple of unintentional mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars. We don’t want that to happen to you.
Is English your second language? If you’re a Spanish-speaking individual, then we will listen to your story, review your documentation, and create a demand letter that the insurance companies won’t ignore.
You’ve been hurt. You ‘re going through a lot… Why not let the Ward Law Group take care of all the details, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries instead? Call us today at 855-DOLOR-55 (855-365-6755) to schedule a free consultation!