All personal injury claims have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is a demand letter. Even if you decide to get help from an experienced injury attorney, you’ll need a demand letter.
A demand letter is a document that initiates legal proceedings. It is the pathway to an out-of-court settlement, which is how most personal injury claims are settled. A court trial might bring in more compensation, but it is a lot slower when compared to an out-of-court settlement. Plus, there’s always the added risk of the case taking a different direction.
Drafting a strong demand letter is important due to the following reasons:
- It sends the message that you’re leaning more towards an out-of-court settlement. This signifies that you’re not ready to spend extra time and money filing a lawsuit while showing that you’re persistent enough to seek compensation at the same time.
- A demand letter is also useful during a court trial. If negotiations fail, you’ll have evidence that you made an attempt to settle the case without court intervention but failed.
Demand Letter – Structure
A demand letter aims to inform an insurance company of the facts and findings of the accident and make a convincing request to offer sufficient compensation. All demand letters follow a similar structure, which is mentioned below.
- Purpose of the demand letter
- Information about the accident
- Information about the parties responsible for the accident
- Information about all the injuries you’ve suffered
- Information about all the treatment you’ve received
- Evidence proving medical expenses, lost wages, and other relevant expenses
- The expected compensation
Now that you know what a demand letter is and the structure used, it’s time to learn about some additional pointers to keep in mind when drafting one.
Demand Letter – Helpful Points
Just listing all the facts and findings of the case won’t suffice. You’ll have to sound convincing enough to force the insurance company to, at the bare minimum, consider the demand letter. The pointers below might help you draft a strong demand letter.
Mention all the Facts
Make sure to include every injury or loss you’ve suffered due to the accident, no matter how small or trivial you think they are. Doing so helps prove the extent of your losses and the severity of the accident.
Prepare a Fair Amount
Victims often undersell themselves and then complain about receiving insufficient compensation. Take all your damages into consideration before arriving at a final sum. Then, add a couple of hundred or thousand dollars to that final amount. This makes sure that you get the right compensation even after a few rounds of negotiation.
Also, don’t forget to justify why you’re requesting the said amount.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Take Over
Victims being angry at the at-fault parties is common (and perfectly valid). But don’t let your emotions run wild when drafting a demand letter. Be calm and maintain a formal tone when writing one. Besides, expressing your anger through a demand letter achieves nothing.
Mention a Deadline
Don’t forget to include a deadline for the at-fault party to reply. One or two weeks work best. Anything more than that, and the at-fault party may either forget or not take the letter too seriously. Also, make sure to let them know that you’re ready for legal action if they don’t respond to the demand letter in time.
Use a Certified Mail Provider
Use a certified mail provider to send the demand letter to the at-fault party. Also, request return receipts. These return receipts will come in handy if the at-fault party refuses to acknowledge that you sent a demand letter.
Additionally, you can also send the demand letter via email, as most individuals and businesses prefer them over traditional emails.
Make a Copy
Make multiple copies of the demand letter and return receipts, and keep them safe. If you sent the demand letter through email, make sure to move the mail to a separate folder so that you don’t delete it by mistake.
A demand letter is an important part of a personal injury claim. The information in it will be used until you receive compensation. This is why it is recommended to hire a lawyer, who’ll draft an impressive demand letter. Additionally, the lawyer will also assist in calculating compensation and during negotiations.